Principles and Precedents

  • James Cable
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)

Abstract

At twenty minutes to four in the cold darkness of the morning of 14 February 1940, a Norwegian coastguard rang up the curtain on one of the classic dramas of gunboat diplomacy — perhaps the purest instance in recent times of the definitive use of limited naval force in isolation from all other means of pressure.

Keywords

Dust Steam Shipping Amid Syria 

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd edn 1965).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Use of local force to create or remove a fait accompli. See G. Hugo, Britain in Tomorrow’s World (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969) chapter 5.Google Scholar
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    The whole of this section is based on, and the quotations taken from Omang, op. cit., and the Instilling of 1945.Google Scholar
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    Intelligence reports from Bergen, confirmed later by aircraft of Coastal Command RAF, were the first definite reports of her location since the previous December and these reached C-in-C Home Fleet at 1710 on 15 February. See S.W. Roskill, The War at Sea (London: HMSO, 1954) vol. I, pp. 151–3.Google Scholar
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    Norwegian time.Google Scholar
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    He may have been stretching a point here, as he does not appear to have received specific instructions at this stage, but Admiral Forbes was doubtless rightly confident that a generous and informed interpretation would be given to his order: ‘ALTMARK your objective’.Google Scholar
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    It was one of the incidental Anglo-Norwegian controversies arising from this incident as to whether or not Captain Vian had ever uttered the first clause of his instructions. See Correspondence Respecting the German Steamer ALTMARK (London: HMSO, 1950) Command 8012.Google Scholar
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    Governments engaged in disputes may proclaim that their quarrel is only with the leaders, not the people, of the opposing state, but tend in practice to regard ordinary people as more legitimate victims of violence than politicians. The British government, for instance, rejected proposals for the assassination of Hitler, and Saddam Hussein, unlike thousands of his subjects, survived for years after the Gulf War.Google Scholar
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    See Article III (6) of theAgreement in J. Goldblat (ed.), Agreements for Arms Control (London: Taylor & Francis, 1982) p. 196. The 1893 incident, on the other hand, was swiftly and decently resolved, not by any treaty but by the principles of gentlemanly behaviour then customary among naval officers. The French Admiral, on his own initiative, sent his offending captain to apologise (Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Twenty-five Years (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925) p. 14).Google Scholar
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    Though Finnish representatives in London explained to Lord Curzon as late as 7 May 1919 the apprehensions entertained by the Finnish government of a Russian naval attack. See S. Jägerskiüld, Riksföreståndaren Gustaf Mannerkeim 1919 (Helsingfors: Holger Schildts Förlag, 1969) p. 170.Google Scholar
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    This authorised the President ‘to employ the armed forces of the US as he deems necessary to protect the territorial integrity and political independence of any such nation or group of nations requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international Communism’.Google Scholar
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    These unhappy victims thus paid for their zeal in intercepting a consignment of arms on the previous day.Google Scholar
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    Although most Muslims tended to support one side and most Christians the other, this was not a straightforward religious conflict. President Chamoun retained the loyalty of his Muslim Prime Minister and of Kamal Jumblatt’s principal Druze rival, while a number of Christians initially co-operated with the rebels.Google Scholar
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    Though the US Ambassador had told Chamoun on the 14th that he should appeal to the Security Council and seek diplomatic support from other Arab governments. R. McClintock, ‘The American Landing in Lebanon’, United States Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1962.Google Scholar
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    Robert Murphy, President Eisenhower’s special envoy to the Lebanon, says the UN observers operated only in the daytime, leaving the frontier open at night (R. Murphy, Diplomat Among Warriors (New York: Doubleday, 1964) p. 448). 70. Chamoun, op. cit., p. 423: [in total contrast with the rejoicing in Baghdad] ‘a great fear gripped every supporter of a peaceful and independent Lebanon. Their morale, long sorely tried, suddenly plumbed the depths of disaster.’Google Scholar
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    Formally, this request was addressed, as that of 11 May had been, to Britain and France as well, but it was understood that the effective response would be American, with British forces being earmarked for Jordan and the French committed in Algeria. Chamoun himself, however, thought the Sixth Fleet to be so far away that they would need forty-eight hours, and thus asked for interim British and French help within twenty-four hours. See McClintock, op. cit.Google Scholar
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    So have some Americans, notably Miles Copeland in his interesting book The Game of Nations (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969). The US government probably could have imposed a settlement more favourable to US interests, but could they then have withdrawn and avoided further intervention?Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© James Cable 1994

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  • James Cable

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