Diplomacy at Sea by James Cable (auth.)

By James Cable (auth.)

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It would be idle to pretend that any of these questions can be answered with a precision capable of commanding general agreement. Yet some attempt must be made to devise a rough and ready yardstick. Governments, after all, frequently resort to coercive diplomacy. If even they can not measure the results, the expedient will forfeit all claim to rationality and decision-makers will continue to be guided by 22 Diplomacy At Sea motives of an emotional character rather than by any plausible prediction of the consequences of their actions.

Its impact was far greater than that of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe signed at Helsinki in 1975. The dramatisation of Entebbe provided rich rewards for the producers of competing paper-backs, films and television programmes: Helsinki was the stuff of text-books. Where faction has led, fiction has not been far behind. Frederick Forsyth's able and successful thriller, The Devil's Alternative, 17 takes coercive diplomacy for its subject and depicts its employment by and against many governments, in various ways and for different purposes.

Sometimes success or failure, when measured within the arbitrary time-scale suggested and on the basis of the apparent objectives of the initiating government, seem clear enough. If there is a worse mistake than believing coercive diplomacy to be a reliable expedient, it is to assume that it never works. In 1968, for instance, the purposeful use of limited force ensured the resumption by Czechoslovakia of her obedient role as a Soviet satellite. A clear success, even if it had lasted only five years instead of over fifteen.

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