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Old 01-13-2018, 05:05 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Use of the term blockade as an act of war

Hi
My question is a little convoluted. I'm interested in teasing out the differences, if there are any between a 'blockade' and a 'quarantine'.
1. Does the term blockade, necessarily imply blocking necessities to the country being blockaded?

2. Are the terms blockade and quarantine synonymous. What differences did the US government give, if any? Did Khrushchev think of it as a blockade? The term blockade isn't necessarily an act of war these days. Is that correct?

3.. The Cuban Missile Crisis was termed a 'quarantine' by the Kennedy Administration. My understanding is that the US permitted necessities to be shipped through to Cuba. Was it still a blockade?

4. Under which articles of war are the terms blockade and quarantine explained and laid out.

I look forward to your feedback



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaran...disambiguation)

"An alternative term for a naval blockade, particularly associated with the United States' "quarantine" of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of late 1962"
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Old 01-13-2018, 05:13 AM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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My immediate reaction is that using the term "quarantine" where the motives are political and/or military instead of medical is a disingenuous euphemism.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:30 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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A blockade has traditionally been considered an act of war against the blockaded nations. Abraham Lincoln learned that the hard way: he insisted the Confederates were still part of the US when blockading him. The British ambassador pointed out that you can't blockade your own country.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US wanted to stop more Soviet missiles from being sent to Cuba. A blockade would have exacerbated the diplomatic crisis. They set up a quarantine, which meant they would board ships and only stop them if military equipment for Cuba was aboard. Other trading ships were checked out and then were allowed to pass.

This really hadn't been done before, so the US called it a quarantine.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:41 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
A blockade has traditionally been considered an act of war against the blockaded nations. Abraham Lincoln learned that the hard way: he insisted the Confederates were still part of the US when blockading him. The British ambassador pointed out that you can't blockade your own country.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US wanted to stop more Soviet missiles from being sent to Cuba. A blockade would have exacerbated the diplomatic crisis. They set up a quarantine, which meant they would board ships and only stop them if military equipment for Cuba was aboard. Other trading ships were checked out and then were allowed to pass.

This really hadn't been done before, so the US called it a quarantine.
Thanks RealityChuck.
Would a blockade have allowed anything like medicine or food supplies through? Have the terms 'blockade' and 'quarantine' been differentiated ever since? They seem to be treated synonymously. Are they laid out in any treaties or protocols? Which ones?
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:17 AM
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Back in Nelson's day, the blockading squadron sailed back and forth outside the enemy harbour(s) and attacked anything that tried to get out.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:52 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
A blockade has traditionally been considered an act of war against the blockaded nations. Abraham Lincoln learned that the hard way: he insisted the Confederates were still part of the US when blockading him. The British ambassador pointed out that you can't blockade your own country.
Was that just a quibble about terminology or a legalistic argument? After all, depriving materiel to a revolting section of one's own country is a time-honored tradition. That's part of the point of a siege, for example.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:58 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
They seem to be treated synonymously.
By whom? Given that using quarantine as an euphemism for blockade is something that was started by political reasons, who is using it that way and who is not tells you a lot about their politics.


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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
Would a blockade have allowed anything like medicine or food supplies through?
Sometimes they do. The blockades during the Gulf Wars worked like the Cuban "quarantine", but as bob++ says that's a relatively recent development.



I'm curious about something else. You seem to have started out thinking that the older term, blockade, was relatively new. What gave you that impression, and did you think the original term was the euphemistic quarantine?
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Last edited by Nava; 01-13-2018 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 01-13-2018, 05:54 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
By whom? Given that using quarantine as an euphemism for blockade is something that was started by political reasons, who is using it that way and who is not tells you a lot about their politics.




Sometimes they do. The blockades during the Gulf Wars worked like the Cuban "quarantine", but as bob++ says that's a relatively recent development.



I'm curious about something else. You seem to have started out thinking that the older term, blockade, was relatively new. What gave you that impression, and did you think the original term was the euphemistic quarantine?
Thanks Nava. No I don't think of the term blockade as a relatively new term. Sorry if I gave that impression. I was really trying to find out if there were any differences, and how those differences would have been communicated. Khrushchev treated the quarantine like a blockade. But it's a blockade with a difference in that (As RealityChuck wrote upthread), the US Navy" would board ships and only stop them if military equipment for Cuba was aboard." I had read previously that the difference was only in terminology, but there is more to it as I understand now.
If the US was avoiding a 'blockade', was the US's quarantine then technically an act of war as the Soviet Union saw things?
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:42 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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There's an internationally-recognised right of freedom of navigation on the high seas. A blockade, whether a total blockade or a partial blockade/quarantine, would infringe this.

Assuming there is not already a war going on, with the blockade being a tactic employed in that war, the blockading nation would generally claim that, despite being an infringement of the freedom of navigation, the blockade is justified as a necessary measure of self-defence.

Whether this amounts to an "act of war" will largely depend on that attitudes of the states affected by the blockade. Note that the affected states are not just those whose ports are closed, but those whose ships are intercepted, boarded, searched, diverted, etc. So a blockade will tend to piss off states with whom you don't currently have a row.
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:51 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Was that just a quibble about terminology or a legalistic argument? After all, depriving materiel to a revolting section of one's own country is a time-honored tradition. That's part of the point of a siege, for example.
My recollection is that the British argument was that a blockade interferes with freedom of navigation, which is a right customarily recognized by international law. It's only acceptable when Country A is at war with Country B, and has blockaded Country B. That is an acceptable infringement on the rigfhts of Countries C to Z, because of the state of war between Country A and Country B.

But, the USA never accepted that the CSA was a separate country, even though it imposed a blockade of the CSA, interfering with the British ships' right of navigation.

If it wasn't a war between two separate nations, by the US's own position, was the blockade lawful at international law, or was it an act of war against Britain?

I don't recall if the issue ever went to court in either the US or the UK.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:38 PM
dtilque dtilque is online now
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
My recollection is that the British argument was that a blockade interferes with freedom of navigation, which is a right customarily recognized by international law. It's only acceptable when Country A is at war with Country B, and has blockaded Country B. That is an acceptable infringement on the rigfhts of Countries C to Z, because of the state of war between Country A and Country B.

But, the USA never accepted that the CSA was a separate country, even though it imposed a blockade of the CSA, interfering with the British ships' right of navigation.

If it wasn't a war between two separate nations, by the US's own position, was the blockade lawful at international law, or was it an act of war against Britain?
The answer is that it's prefectly legal for the US to restrict access to its own ports by whatever means it sees fit. The fact that certain severe restrictions are only imposed at some ports is irrelevant. It'd only be an act of war if the blockade were enforced against British ports or in international waters.

There was one instance where a US Navy ship intercepted a British ship and removed Confederate diplomats, but I don't remember if it was in international waters or not. The British did protest strongly and that may have been when the ambassador made his point.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:43 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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If it's in national waters, yes - but a blockade often is in international waters as well. That was acceptable during a state of war, but otherwise was an interference with freedom of navigation.

(Just like the US was upset when British ships stopped US merchant ships on the high seas to search for British seamen, prior to the War of 1812. The US argued that interfered with freedom of the seas, recognized by international law.)
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:10 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
There's an internationally-recognised right of freedom of navigation on the high seas. A blockade, whether a total blockade or a partial blockade/quarantine, would infringe this.

Assuming there is not already a war going on, with the blockade being a tactic employed in that war, the blockading nation would generally claim that, despite being an infringement of the freedom of navigation, the blockade is justified as a necessary measure of self-defence.

Whether this amounts to an "act of war" will largely depend on that attitudes of the states affected by the blockade. Note that the affected states are not just those whose ports are closed, but those whose ships are intercepted, boarded, searched, diverted, etc. So a blockade will tend to piss off states with whom you don't currently have a row.
Thanks UDS. I'm still unclear about exactly where this quarantine line was enforced. Was it within Cuban waters, in in international waters, or in US waters. I've read websites claiming the quarantine was conducted in US waters and others stating it was conducted in international waters. Which was it? Were US planes after the U2 plane was shot down restricted to airspace outside of Cuban airspace?
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:13 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
Thanks UDS. I'm still unclear about exactly where this quarantine line was enforced. Was it within Cuban waters, in in international waters, or in US waters. I've read websites claiming the quarantine was conducted in US waters and others stating it was conducted in international waters. Which was it? Were US planes after the U2 plane was shot down restricted to airspace outside of Cuban airspace?
It appears the quarantine was conducted in international waters.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-h...of-nuclear-war

On October 24, millions waited to see whether Soviet ships bound for Cuba carrying additional missiles would try to break the U.S. naval blockade around the island. At the last minute, the vessels turned around and returned to the Soviet Union. On October 26, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev responded to the quarantine by sending a long and rather disjointed letter to Kennedy offering a deal: Soviet ships bound for Cuba would “not carry any kind of armaments” if the United States vowed never to invade Cuba. He pleaded, “let us show good sense,” and appealed to Kennedy to “weigh well what the aggressive, piratical actions, which you have declared the U.S.A. intends to carry out in international waters, would lead to.” He followed this with another letter the next day offering to remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States would remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey.
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:28 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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US national waters hug the US coastline, so the quarantine wouldn't have been in US waters. It would have been in international or Cuban waters.
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:36 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
But it's a blockade with a difference in that (As RealityChuck wrote upthread), the US Navy" would board ships and only stop them if military equipment for Cuba was aboard." I had read previously that the difference was only in terminology, but there is more to it as I understand now.
Same point here. In the original common definition 'blockade' meant stopping ships to see if they carried certain 'contraband' cargo, 'condemning' them if so, subject to the findings of a prize court. Which might award the naval captain/crew monetary prizes or the ship owner compensation depending on the outcome. Britain as the dominant maritime power generally favored expanding the legal rights of blockaders because it expected to be the blockader in any major war, which balanced against its commercial interests in any given smaller or civil war where its ship owners might lose money because of blockades. It was one of a number of mixed motives the British had in their positions when it came to the American Civil War. Anyway, it was only in the total wars of the 20th century that 'blockade' came to commonly mean preventing any ships whatsoever from entering or leaving the enemy's ports; also the idea of paying naval personnel extra in such operations went out the window. So selective inspection is also not what differentiated 'quarantine' from 'blockade'.

The simple answer is that the US in the Cuban Missile Crisis sought a euphemism which didn't carry along the whole history of maritime and international law jurisprudence of 'blockade', so came up with 'quarantine'.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-14-2018 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:18 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
Same point here. In the original common definition 'blockade' meant stopping ships to see if they carried certain 'contraband' cargo, 'condemning' them if so, subject to the findings of a prize court. Which might award the naval captain/crew monetary prizes or the ship owner compensation depending on the outcome. Britain as the dominant maritime power generally favored expanding the legal rights of blockaders because it expected to be the blockader in any major war, which balanced against its commercial interests in any given smaller or civil war where its ship owners might lose money because of blockades. It was one of a number of mixed motives the British had in their positions when it came to the American Civil War. Anyway, it was only in the total wars of the 20th century that 'blockade' came to commonly mean preventing any ships whatsoever from entering or leaving the enemy's ports; also the idea of paying naval personnel extra in such operations went out the window. So selective inspection is also not what differentiated 'quarantine' from 'blockade'.


The simple answer is that the US in the Cuban Missile Crisis sought a euphemism which didn't carry along the whole history of maritime and international law jurisprudence of 'blockade', so came up with 'quarantine'.
Thanks Corry El

So was Kennedy administration betting that the Soviet Union wouldn't react hostilely because of the use of 'quarantine' as opposed to 'blockade'?
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:40 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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Thanks Corry El

So was Kennedy administration betting that the Soviet Union wouldn't react hostilely because of the use of 'quarantine' as opposed to 'blockade'?
I doubt that. I think the euphemism here was mainly an attempt to influence the views of parties other than the Soviet Union. Or, at least, to give parties who would have wanted to side with the US anyway, or at least not to condemn the US, some colour for doing so.
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:38 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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I doubt that. I think the euphemism here was mainly an attempt to influence the views of parties other than the Soviet Union. Or, at least, to give parties who would have wanted to side with the US anyway, or at least not to condemn the US, some colour for doing so.
Thanks UDS. Thank you all.
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Old 01-16-2018, 02:16 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
...There was one instance where a US Navy ship intercepted a British ship and removed Confederate diplomats, but I don't remember if it was in international waters or not....
It was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_Affair
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