Blockade
Overview
 
A blockade is an effort
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

 or sanctions
International sanctions
International sanctions are actions taken by countries against others for political reasons, either unilaterally or multilaterally.There are several types of sanctions....

, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. Most blockades historically took place at sea, with the blockading power seeking to cut off all maritime transport from and to the blockaded country; although stopping all land transport to and from an area may also be considered a blockade.
Encyclopedia
A blockade is an effort
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

 or sanctions
International sanctions
International sanctions are actions taken by countries against others for political reasons, either unilaterally or multilaterally.There are several types of sanctions....

, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. Most blockades historically took place at sea, with the blockading power seeking to cut off all maritime transport from and to the blockaded country; although stopping all land transport to and from an area may also be considered a blockade. In the 20th century air power has also been used to enhance the effectiveness of the blockade by halting all air traffic within the blockaded air space.

Close patrol of the hostile ports, in order to prevent naval forces from putting to sea, is also referred to as a blockade. When a coastal cities or fortresses were besieged from the landward side, the besiegers would often blockade the seaward side as well. Most recently, blockades have sometimes included cutting off electronic communications by jamming radio
Radio jamming
Radio jamming is the transmission of radio signals that disrupt communications by decreasing the signal to noise ratio. Unintentional jamming occurs when an operator transmits on a busy frequency without first checking whether it is in use, or without being able to hear stations using the frequency...

 signals and severing undersea cables. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and its blockade of the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 since 2001 has received the most attention as a continuing crisis.

Types of blockade

Close, distant and loose blockades

A close blockade entails placing warships within sight of the blockaded coast or port, to ensure the immediate interception of any ship entering or leaving. It is both the most effective and the most difficult form of blockade to implement. Difficulties arise because the blockading ships must remain continuously at sea, exposed to storms and hardship, usually far from any support, and vulnerable to sudden attack from the blockaded side, whose ships may stay safe in harbor till they choose to come out.

In a distant blockade, the blockaders stay well away from the blockaded coast, and try to intercept any ships going in or out. This may require more ships on station, but they can usually operate closer to their bases, and are at much less risk from enemy raids. This was almost impossible in the ancient World due to the nature of the ships used, and remained so until the 16th century.

A loose blockade is a close blockade where the blockading ships are withdrawn out of sight from the coast (behind the horizon), but no farther. The object of loose blockade is to lure the enemy into venturing out, while staying close enough to strike.

British admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Horatio Nelson applied a loose blockade at Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 in 1805. The Franco-Spanish fleet under Villeneuve
Pierre-Charles Villeneuve
Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve was a French naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars. He was in command of the French and Spanish fleets defeated by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar....

 then came out, resulting in the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

.

Pacific blockade

Until 1827, blockades were always a part of a war. This changed when France, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Britain came to the aid of the Greek rebels against Turkey
First Hellenic Republic
The First Hellenic Republic is a name used to refer to the provisional Greek state during the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire...

. They blockaded the Turkish-occupied coast, which led to the battle of Navarino
Battle of Navarino
The naval Battle of Navarino was fought on 20 October 1827, during the Greek War of Independence in Navarino Bay , on the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, in the Ionian Sea. A combined Ottoman and Egyptian armada was destroyed by a combined British, French and Russian naval force...

. War was never declared, however, so it is considered the first pacific — i.e. peaceful — blockade. The first truly pacific blockade, involving no shooting at all, was the British blockade of the Republic of New Granada
Republic of New Granada
The Republic of New Granada was a centralist republic consisting primarily of present-day Colombia and Panama with smaller portions of today's Ecuador, and Venezuela. It was created after the dissolution in 1830 of Gran Colombia. It was later abolished in 1858 when the Granadine Confederation was...

 in 1837, established to compel New Granada to release an imprisoned British consul.

Legal status

Act of war

A blockade is defined by the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

as "an act of war by which a belligerent prevents access to or departure from a defined part of the enemy’s coasts."

Governing laws

Whether or not a blockade was seen as lawful depended on the national laws of the nations whose trade was influenced by the blockade. The Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian blockade of Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 in 1826, for instance, was considered lawful according to British law, but unlawful according to French and American law. The latter two countries announced they would actively defend their ships against Brazilian blockaders, while Britain was forced to steer for a peaceful solution between Brazil and Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

.

Blockades were first defined in international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 at the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law in 1856. One of the agreed rules was that a blockade had to be effective in order to be lawful. This banned so-called "paper" blockades — blockades that were declared to the blockaded nation, but were not actively enforced, allowing the blockading party to seize the cargo of neutral states trading with blockaded harbors. At the Declaration of London
Declaration of London
The London Declaration concerning the Laws of Naval War is an international code of maritime law, especially as it relates to wartime activities, proposed in 1909 at the London Naval Conference by the leading European naval powers, as well as the United States and Japan, after a multinational...

 in 1909 another attempt was made to further protect the rights of neutral traders. The treaty was ratified by only a few nations, preventing any application of the agreements. Parts of it were, however, applied during blockades in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Since 1945, the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 determines the legal status of blockades and by article 42
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter sets out the UN Security Council's powers to maintain peace. It allows the Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take military and nonmilitary action to "restore international peace...

 of the UN Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, the Council can also apply blockades.
According to the not ratified document San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, a blockade is a legal method of warfare at sea, but is governed by rules. The blockading nation must publish a list of contraband, and the manual describes what can never be contraband. Outside this list, the blockading nation is free to select anything as contraband. The blockading nation typically establish a blockaded area of water, but any ship can be inspected as soon as it is established that it is attempting to break the blockade. This inspection can occur inside the blockaded area or in international waters, but never inside the territorial waters of a neutral nation. A neutral ship must obey a request to stop for inspection from the blockading nation. If the situation so demands, the blockading nation can request that the ship divert to a known place or harbour for inspection. If the ship does not stop, then the ship is subject to capture. If people aboard the ship resist capture, they can be lawfully attacked.

Blockade planning

Blockades depend on four general factors:
  • The value of the thing to be blockaded
  • The blockading strength versus that of the opposing force
  • The suitability of the terrain for the blockade
  • The willpower to maintain the blockade


First: the value of the item being blockaded must warrant the need to blockade. For example, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the items to be blockaded (or "quarantine
Quarantine
Quarantine is compulsory isolation, typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous, often but not always disease. The word comes from the Italian quarantena, meaning forty-day period....

d", to use the more legally- and politically-neutral term selected by President
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

) were medium-range missiles, capable of delivering nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

ry, bound for Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. The need for the blockade was high because of the value of the missiles as a military threat against the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Second: the strength of the blockading force must be equal to or greater in strength than the opposition. The blockade is only successful if the 'thing' in question is prevented from reaching its receiver. Again, the Cuban blockade illustration shows that the United States put to sea a number of warships to inspect and blockade the waters around Cuba. This show of strength showed the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 forces were much larger and stronger in the area than their Soviet Navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

 counterparts.

Third: in the case of land blockades, choosing suitable terrain. Knowing where the force will be travelling will help the blockader choose where to blockade: for example, forcing a garrison between a high mountain pass in order to bottleneck the opposing force.

Fourth: the willpower to maintain a blockade. The success of a blockade is based almost entirely on the will of those who maintain it. The Cuban blockade is an example of maintaining willpower to block the missiles from reaching Cuba despite the risk of starting a worldwide nuclear war
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

.

Blockade running

Blockade running is the practice of delivering cargo (food, for example) to a blockaded area. It has mainly been done by ships (called blockade runner
Blockade runner
A blockade runner is usually a lighter weight ship used for evading a naval blockade of a port or strait, as opposed to confronting the blockaders to break the blockade. Very often blockade running is done in order to transport cargo, for example to bring food or arms to a blockaded city...

s) across ports under naval blockade. Blockade runners were typically the fastest ships available and often lightly armed and armored. However, in the modern age, it has also been done by aircraft, forming airbridges
Airbridge (logistics)
An airbridge is the route and means of delivering material from one place to another by an airlift.An airbridge is the means by which an airhead is kept supplied by overflying enemy held territory...

, such as over the Berlin blockade
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

 after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

See also

  • List of historical blockades
  • Battleplan
    Battleplan
    Battleplan is a military television documentary series examing various military strategies used in modern warfare since World War I. It is shown on the Military Channel in the U.S. and UKTV History...

    (documentary TV series)
  • Economic warfare
    Economic warfare
    Economic warfare is the term for economic policies followed as a part of military operations during wartime.The purpose of economic warfare is to capture critical economic resources so that the military can operate at full efficiency and/or deprive the enemy forces of those resources so that they...

  • 2007–present blockade of the Gaza Strip
  • Legal assessments of the Gaza flotilla raid
    Legal assessments of the Gaza flotilla raid
    Many legal assessments of the Gaza flotilla raid were published subsequent to the event. International law experts differed over the legality of the action by Israel...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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