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Stormy Seas: Anglo-American Negotiations on Ocean Surveillance

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The Surveillance Imperative
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Abstract

On April 14, 1986, 18 US F-111 fighter-bombers passed unhindered over the Strait of Gibraltar on a mission intended to assassinate Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. The mission failed, and Gaddafi would not be ousted from power until the Arab Spring and subsequent uprising of 2011. Yet the episode was important for another reason: This was the first time that the US administration invoked the UN International Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) to assert free passage through sea straits for ships and aircraft in order to launch an air attack without violating the airspace of neighboring European countries. This was a decisive move, especially because the Strait of Gibraltar has long been the site of various tensions, even between “special” allies. Gibraltar has been a British bastion for centuries, but the Spanish government has always contested the right of free passage through the Strait, and the United States and France have also vied for control of these strategically vital waters.

The origin of this project […] emanated from the Americans on the basis of a philosophy of the need for world-wide surveillance with which we ourselves do not agree.1

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Notes

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© 2014 Simone Turchetti and Peder Roberts

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Robinson, S. (2014). Stormy Seas: Anglo-American Negotiations on Ocean Surveillance. In: Turchetti, S., Roberts, P. (eds) The Surveillance Imperative. Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137438744_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137438744_6

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-49407-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-43874-4

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)

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