Eyeing the arctic riches

 Arctic Pictures, Images and Photos

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is touring the Canadian north up in the Arctic. There are barely any people there and it is certainly not an area that is very important in terms of potential votes to win over. So why is he interested in the ice cold Arctic? For the same reason that Russia, Denmark and the U.S. are- potential riches.

Many experts think that there are large oil and gas reserves in the Arctic which new mining technologies make accessing them a real possibility soon. In addition to the commodities that can be extracted, experts also think that with climate change, we will soon be able to use the Northwest Passage as a useful shipping route. If you look at a map of Canada or the world, you will clearly see that the Northwest Passage and a fair amount of the Arctic are within Canadian territory. However, now that this part of the world is more important and lucrative, you see other countries trying to claim ownership.

Some people might think that the biggest threat to Canadian sovereignty in the North is the United States because of their global dominance and the presence of Alaska in the Region. However, of the four active countries vying for a part of the Arctic (Canada, United States, Denmark and Russia) the U.S.A. will be the easiest for Canada to deal with. Canada and the U.S. have such close ties that they will work out their differences in the North in a way that will make both sides at least partially happy. The U.S. will undoubtedly be respectful and will play by the rules. I’m sure some of you reading that last sentence are raising your eyebrows, but you can guarantee that with Canada the U.S. will always play by the rules.

Denmark is currently in a land dispute with Canada over an Arctic island and that does not seem to be coming to an agreement. However, like Canada, Denmark is an advanced society and democracy in Western Europe so they will more than likely not resort to violence or anything like that over Arctic sovereignty. If they did threaten Canada, this would be a dumb move on their part because the U.S. will defend Canada.

The only real threat here is Russia. Although this is not the USSR from years past, Russia is also not as advanced a society as the other countries mentioned and they are not a democracy. They are a very powerful military power that only the U.S. can compete with in that region and that might enable them to act like a bully to Canada. They are already making some claims to territories which do not seem fair and this is why the Canadian government is showing some pushback on the issue.

Canada is investing in some military systems for the North and although they are under no illusions that it really scares the Russians, it sends the signal that they will not easily back down. The real concern is that the U.S. might decide that going to a potential war with Russia over Arctic territory on behalf of Canada may not be worth it. We are currently no where near this scenario and hopefully we never come close to it, but the prospects of a potential conflict between the U.S. and Russia is always a scary thought. Hopefully, Russia will play fair and let the facts decide who owns what.