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By Heather Jones


A blockade is usually defined as a form of economic warfare whereby the enemy's supplies, and in particular their trading routes, are targeted in order to bring about capitulation. The use of the economic blockade in war is a modern variation of the older practice of the siege, whereby ancient, medieval, and early modern cities, fortresses, or similar strongholds were forced into surrender by an opposing force which surrounded them with the purpose of cutting off their access to supplies. While sieges were relatively small-scale operations, however, usuallylimited to one geographical site, the modern economic blockade marked an escalation of the practice of targeting supply routes to the state or national level. Although blockades historically have been carried out on both land and sea, maritime blockade has been the more prevalent phenomenon of the two and is thus the main focus here. The modern maritime economic blockade is defined by one recent commentator as “essentially a method of naval economic interdiction; its purpose is to prevent the ingress and egress of state vessels moving to and from the coastal areas of the enemy, resulting in the economic and operational strangulation of the enemy's war effort” (Jones 1983: 762)

Topics: D History (General), U Military Science (General)
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow071
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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