Can Canada Avoid Arctic Militarization?
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In the next few decades, global warming effects and the melting glaciers are expected to make the Arctics natural resources and navigable sea lines of communications more accessible. The Arctic presents outstanding economic development opportunities and thus, there are many countries that hold ambitions to claim those future resources for themselves. Who owns the Arctic is currently a diplomatic, academic and legal debate. Nonetheless, the potential for future disputes is real and palpable. As the ice cover shrinks, the tension and competitive atmosphere could possibly develop into military conflicts. All the Arctic nations including Russia publicly oppose militarization. However, examination of the Arctic nations strategies and recent military actions might suggest otherwise. Concurrently, nations not bordering the Arctic Ocean, particularly China, have demonstrated a keen interest in Arctic geopolitics and economic development. As an Arctic nation, Canada has been loudly reaffirming its sovereign Arctic claims. However, the question for Canadian policymakers is whether to place confidence in diplomacy to avoid militarization or to take actions to counter the perceived steps by other nations to militarize the Arctic. Can Canada avoid militarization of the Arctic Four main arguments have been brought forth to justify why Canada should militarize the Arctic. To demonstrate that Canada can avoid militarizing the Arctic, it was necessary to investigate each of the four arguments to identify specific conditions, capabilities, actions or relationships that could motivate military competition. Both Arctic and non-Arctic actors have diplomatically declared that they want to avoid militarization and conflicts in the Arctic. The sincerity of those statements can be determined by comparing the diplomatic initiatives with the military preparations and actions. Consequently, this paper initially analyzes the Northwest Passage dispute to show that the concerns do not justify
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics