GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY can be defined in a general way as any aggressive diplomatic activity carried out with the implicit or explicit use of military (usually naval) power. However, the term is most often associated with the activities of the Great Powers in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. In this period, the construction of steel-hulled vessels of relatively shallow draught (gunboats) that were heavily armed provided new opportunities for the projection of power on the part of rival imperial powers. In the case of the United States, gunboat diplomacy is probably most closely associated with Washington’s diplomatic and military interventions in the Caribbean during the early decades of the twentieth century.
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