An Arctic War is Getting Closer
Thanks to global warming, the Arctic icecap is rapidly melting, opening up access to massive natural resources and creating shipping shortcuts that could save billions of dollars a year.
But there are currently no clear rules governing this economically and strategically vital region. Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict, says Scott G. Borgerson who is International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard in Foreign Affairs - a magazine published by The Council on Foreign Relations.
Scott G. Borgerson continues: "Global warming has given birth to a new scramble for territory and resources among the five Arctic powers. Russia was the first to stake its claim in this great Arctic gold rush, in 2001.
Moscow submitted a claim to the United Nations for 460,000 square miles of resource-rich Arctic waters, an area roughly the size of the states of California, Indiana, and Texas combined.
The UN rejected this ambitious annexation, but last August the Kremlin nevertheless dispatched a nuclear-powered icebreaker and two submarines to plant its flag on the North Pole's sea floor.
Days later, the Russians provocatively ordered strategic bomber flights over the Arctic Ocean for the first time since the Cold War.
Not to be outdone, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced funding for new Arctic naval patrol vessels, a new deep-water port, and a cold-weather training center along the Northwest Passage.
Denmark and Norway, which control Greenland and the Svalbard Islands, respectively, are also anxious to establish their claims.
Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the...