Tribe, the State, and More: The Foundations of a Stable Arctic; Toward a Convergence of Indigenous, State and Global Interests at the Top of the World
25 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2010 Last revised: 19 Oct 2010
Date Written: September 1, 2010
Over the centuries, interest in the Arctic and the commercial and strategic potential of its sea lanes and natural resources has been persistent, from the fur trading empires of Rupert’s Land and Russian America to our own time – but climatic conditions prevented the region’s full potential from being achieved before now, holding back its development, and limiting its contribution to the world economy, making it neither a rimland or a heartland but something that more closely resembles what geopolitical theorist Mackinder called Lenaland – named for the isolated Lena river valley in Russia and which captured the unique geostrategic insularity of the Far North, which made it possible for the Cold War’s two armed and often hostile superpowers to come face to face along their long ice curtain with very little risk of war, in great contract to the Central Front in the once-divided Germany where a million men stood armed and ready for war for a generation. This long isolation, that dates back before the dawn of man and accounts for the region’s unique fauna like the polar bear and beluga whale, blending into an environment defined by ice and snow for millennia. What defined the region’s biological evolution also shaped its geopolitical stability, and limited mankind’s otherwise heavy footprint. But all this now looks to be changing, or least the prospect of such a change has tipped from the implausible to the possible – as a result of the rapid warming of the Arctic climate and the measurably accelerated summer ice melts, putting the region in play strategically for the first time since the Cold War’s end.
Keywords: Arctic, security, geopolitics
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