Blockades - Conclusion

And so the meaning of "blockade" has shifted over the years—perhaps it is more correct to say that it has been "jostled." Everything has depended upon the nation with available power, whether that nation wished to employ it for its own benefit or that of the international community. At the time when international law was a novelty, the time of Grotius, there was no such thing as an international community. In the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, blockade was a point of argument governed by power and, for the United States, by hope—trust that trading nations could make their ways without interference. After World War I the word "blockade" tended to go out of style. The international organizations created after the world wars anticipated the prevention of conflicts through the cordoning off of "aggressor" nations by multilateral action and not by the traditional bilateral maneuvers involving blockade. Then, too, other words—"quarantine," "interdiction," "interception"—have seemed less provocative than "blockade" and also would not automatically involve inconvenient rules and practices of the not-too-distant past.

As to the future of blockade, it may not have one. New words from the late twentieth century give indication that it is a concept of the past.

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