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31 Va. J. Int'l L. 567 (1990-1991)
Gunboat Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf--An Alternative Evaluation of a Contemporary Nava Conflict

handle is hein.journals/vajint31 and id is 579 raw text is: Gunboat Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf?
An Alternative Evaluation of a
Contemporary Naval Conflict
[I]t would be too much to suppose that so radical a change
... will for a length of time to come be effected, as to admit
of the total withdrawal of that influence and political con-
trol which have... rendered this Gulf,... as safe and open
to the trade and navigation of vessels of all nations, as the
seas of any other portion of the world.'
This nineteenth century quote by British Lieutenant A.B. Kemball
was made in justification of British use of gunboat diplomacy in the
Persian Gulf, a concept some modem commentators have viewed as
being as obsolescent as the vessels that used to sustain it. Both are
vaguely supposed to have vanished with the passing of Victorian
imperialism,. . . under the pressure of altered political attitudes .... ,2
James Cable, however, has successfully challenged this fallacy in his
book, Gunboat Diplomacy: Political Applications of Limited Naval
Force, demonstrating that the practice is alive and well in the 20th
century. Gunboat diplomacy, Cable says,
is the use of threat of limited naval force, otherwise than as
an act of war, in order to secure advantage, or to avert loss,
t Senior Associate, Center for National Security Law, and Maury Fellow, Center for
Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia School of Law. Chair, ABA Law of the Sea
Committee's Subcommittee on Naval Warfare, Maritime Terrorism, and Piracy.
1. A. Kemball, Observations on the Past Policy of the British Government Towards the
Arab Tribes of the Persian Gulf (18 Oct. 1844), in R. Thomas & R. Bidwell, Arabian Gulf
Intelligence: Selections From the Records of the Bombay Government 61 at 74 (1985).
2. J. Cable, Gunboat Diplomacy: Political Application of Limited Naval Force 9 (1971).

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