Friday, August 31, 2007

The North West Passage, Arctic Resources, and coming conflict

I'm currently writing my thesis on the topic of land use in Churchill Manitoba. I can actually thank the New York Times - particularly their multipart series regarding the changes in the Arctic - for first informing on the subject. The "Great Game" was, in simplified terms, the Cold War of the 19th century. It was a face off between Britain and the Russian Empire and is rarely taught in any history course. It was omitted from the entirety of my history degree at CWU, even though it explains the British invasion of Afghanistan, the expansion of the Russian Empire in the effort to obtain a warm water port, and many other events). Now to compare it to the current state of Arctic claims may not be fair. Not every contest of independent nations is a "Great Game" or "Cold War" situation. What you seem to need is diametrically opposed ideologies and foreign policies designed to confound a specific designated enemy (proxy wars). That hasn't happened yet, but two factions seem to be gearing up for it - an energetic and increasingly fascist Russia and western nations that, while they bicker over the exact claims, are more likely to have a problem with Russia's far more extensive claims (all of the Arctic and good portions of Mars) and will band together to oppose them. The stakes are high enough to precipitate another "Great Game" scenario in the near future.

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