Arctic geopolitics explored in a U.S. News articleOctober 10th, 2008 by cdunagan
There is nothing like a weekly news magazine to explore the breadth and depth of an issue, as U.S. News and World Report has done in a story titled “Global Warming Triggers an International Race for the Arctic.”
The magazine piece, written by Thomas Omestad, discusses a treasure of oil and minerals, scientific discoveries, commercial potential and possible geopolitical clashes. I recommend it to anyone interested in the confluence of global warming and international intrigue.
A map of this remote area shows how the legendary Northwest Passage could become an important route between the East and West coasts.
After describing some strategic flurries in the Arctic by Russia and Canada, Omestad offers this observation:
The United States, for its part, has not acted with the same urgency. “We are behind when it comes to what is happening with our other Arctic neighbors,” says Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The lagging begins with the Law of the Sea convention. Despite Bush administration support, Senate ratification of the 1982 treaty remains blocked by conservative Republicans fearful that the treaty will give away American sovereignty. The other four Arctic coastal states have adopted the convention and are eligible to file their claims for economic control.
The Pentagon has also appeared slow to focus on the region. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains just two working icebreakers, with another docked until repairs are authorized. The question of expanding the icebreaker force has been left unanswered, while a broader, interagency review of Arctic policy has continued for nearly two years….
I recently cited some sketchy stories about this subject on Watching Our Water Ways. Now this U.S. News article has placed the issue into the appropriate context. If the prescribed dominoes begin to fall, international tensions will no doubt rise in this remote part of the Earth.