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Title: International law at sea, economic warfare, and Britain's response to the German U-boat campaign during the First World War
Author: Russell, Bruce
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines, in three parts, the British naval blockade of Germany during the First World War. In the first part, it analyses the development of international law in the years leading up to the war and uncovers British planning for a campaign of economic warfare against Germany. In the second part, there is an investigation into Germany's use of unrestricted U-boat warfare as a response to the British blockade of Germany. There is also a review of the effect of the wartime blockades on both Britain and Germany. The final part of the thesis studies issues of international law by separating the rules and regulations from the humanitarian aspects; it concludes by reviewing the changing role of the United States throughout the war and the state of law in the immediate post-war era. Challenging existing literature, the conclusions of the research have been enhanced through the employment of both case studies and counterfactual history. The conclusions challenge Bobbitt's ideas on an epochal war and show that Britain adapted well to the rigours of the German U-boat campaign, although the changing role of the United States made a vital contribution to the war. This method of warfare both revolutionised the method of employment for submarines, but also doomed Germany to failure. The First World War at sea demonstrated that international law was unable to cope with the use of the U-boat. This thesis makes an original contribution to the body of academic literature on the First World War by investigating new areas of research and improving academic understanding of the emergent role played by international law.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral