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


More bathers have heard of the jelly fish, even seen it, than could depict its shifting outlines, translucent as the sea in which they merge and blur, or grasp the slipperiness of its floating substance. Gunboat diplomacy is equally familiar and no less amorphous. Its scope and nature are not easily discerned: they resist the simplicity of a single, a priori definition. Instead, the subject must be enveloped and, step by step, isolated from its fluid and shadowy environment. This process of definition by elimination is necessarily arbitrary. In the absence of any consensus of received opinion, doubt and disagreement are not merely permissible, but justified. It is the need to fix a starting-point, not its self-evident validity, that demands precision, even pedantry, at the outset of an inevitably speculative venture across the horizons of the future. The more categorical the statements that follow, the more they will need (but, to avoid tedious repetition, will not receive) the perpetual qualification: ‘for the purposes of this inquiry’.


Foreign Government Chinese Water International Dispute Territorial Jurisdiction French Territory 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass (London: Nonesuch Press, 1963).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On 25 October 1917, when the threat of bombardment and the use of her sailors ashore led to the capitulation of the Kerensky government to the Bolsheviks. Historians cannot agree as to whether the cruiser fired live rounds or not.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. Symons, The General Strike (London: Cresset Press, 1957) p. 53.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Vice-Admiral Muselier has written his own first-hand account: chapters 22–24 of De Gaulle Contre le Gaullisme (Paris: Editions du Chêne, 1946). See also the Bibliography.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    C. von Clausewitz, On War, trans. J.J. Graham (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968) p. 101.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. Buchan, War in Modern Society (London: Watts, 1966).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See J. Barlow Martin, Overtaken by Events (New York: Doubleday, 1966) passim.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James Cable 1994

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  • James Cable

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