US Imperialism And The New Race To The Arctic

The Arctic has in recent weeks become a focal point of geopolitical tensions between Russia and the United States. Given the present rate of global warming, scientists anticipate that the region will be ice-free by the summer of 2030. It is believed to contain a large portion of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. It is also an important maritime route, one that is increasingly accessible due to the thawing of its ice cover.

The Arctic is one of the most resource-rich regions of the world. According to a study commissioned by the US government, some 30 percent of unexplored natural gas reserves and 13 percent of undiscovered oil and gas condensate are located there. Only Russia has a greater supply of raw materials.

The Northeast Passage, which extends beyond the Arctic, is regarded as an alternate sea route from Europe to Asia to the southern route, which runs via the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and on to India. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, traffic using the Northeast Passage collapsed, but in recent years it has significantly increased again with the progressive melting of the region’s ice.

What is a disaster from an environmental standpoint could allow for the exploitation of raw material reserves and the region’s increased use as a maritime route. Conditions for the extraction of raw materials, however, will be extremely difficult.

According to one estimate, the cost of oil production in the part of the Arctic apportioned to Alaska would be between 50 and 100 percent higher than in Texas.

Environmentalists and scientists criticize attempts to extract Arctic oil and gas. In January, in a letter to the scientific journal Nature, Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins warned that the extraction of oil and gas in the Arctic was “incompatible” with attempts to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

Nevertheless, the bordering states––Russia, Norway, Canada, the US and Denmark (which owns Greenland)––are aggressively penetrating the Arctic and establishing military presences there.

The US, in particular, is increasingly vehement in its efforts to secure its claims in the region. Earlier this week, Barack Obama became the first sitting American president to make an official visit to the Arctic. After a long debate, the Obama administration this year issued permits for the energy group Royal Dutch Shell to undertake oil production in parts of the Arctic apportioned to the United States.

In the course of his visit, Obama announced the deployment of more icebreakers and marine vessels to the region, ostensibly to ensure “safety at sea” and to document the effects of climate change.

For weeks, the US military, assorted think tanks and numerous media outlets have been agitating for the US to act more aggressively in the Arctic.

In mid-August, the Harvard International Review called the “opening of a new sea route in the Arctic” the most significant change on the planet “since the last Ice Age.” The publication urged the US government to raise territorial claims in the Arctic and increase its military presence. It argued that energy extraction in the region was worthwhile financially because the global demand for energy resources would rise and the existing supply decline. It also noted that production sites in the Arctic would be closer to Asian markets than the gas and oil extracted in the Gulf region.

The front page lead item in Sunday’s New York Times was a long article lamenting the lack of US involvement in the Arctic and warning that Russia and China might benefit as a result of American inaction. Both China and Singapore have in recent years invested heavily in energy projects in the region. The Times spoke of a renewed Cold War with Russia in connection with a “new race to the Arctic.”

It cited a certain Admiral Zukunft, who said at a conference in Washington this year: “The United States is actually not even in this game there … When Russia sent the Sputnik into space, we sat there with our hands in our pockets, marveled, and said, ‘Good for Mother Russia.’”

In May-June, NATO held one of its largest military exercises of the year in the Arctic. It lasted for 14 days and was clearly directed against Russia. (See:NATO begins anti-Russian air drill in Arctic). More than 4,000 soldiers and over 100 planes participated in the “Arctic Challenge” exercise. In response, the Kremlin mobilized its forces in the region for unannounced military exercises.

In July, Moscow published a revised military doctrine for the navy. The most important change was a higher weighting of the Arctic in Russia’s naval strategy.

In August, Russia held military exercises on the Arctic’s Taimyr Peninsula, in the far north of Siberia. More than 1,000 soldiers and 50 special vehicles participated in the manoeuvres. A representative of the navy insisted that the exercises had a purely defensive character.

In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, the Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin explained Russia’s increased focus on the Arctic as follows:

“The shortest route for ICBMs is via the North Pole. Russia is concentrating its naval forces here in order to take out American sea-based anti-missile systems in case of conflict. Also to protect natural resources on its northern coast, and the sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, which is opened up by the warming of the seas.”

In early August, the Russian government submitted a petition to the United Nations that Russia be granted sovereign rights over an area of 1.2 million square kilometres around the North Pole. A similar petition had already been rejected by a UN commission in 2002. In February or March 2016, the UN will begin the examination of the current application.

Russia hopes to gain control over the energy resources of the region. The Russian economy has been highly dependent on income from the sale of energy on the world market since the restoration of capitalism in 1991. Nearly 50 percent of revenues in the Russian state budget are derived from energy exports. But the easily extracted oil and gas reserves in Russia are being depleted. According to the Kremlin, the parts of the Arctic to which Russia has made territorial claims would provide access to approximately 4.9 billion tons of fossil fuels.

But it is widely questioned whether Russia, whose energy businesses utilize poorly developed technology, can extract the reserves in the Arctic. The sea in the region is 500 to 2,000 metres deep. At such depths, Russian companies cannot even undertake test drilling.

In addition, US and European Union sanctions mean that Russian corporations are largely cut off from foreign companies and their technology. Recently, the American energy giant ExxonMobil had to withdraw from a joint venture with the Russian state company Rosneft to develop oil production in the Russian Arctic.

Even companies such as Shell and ENI are having technical problems with exploratory drilling in the Arctic and are not yet able to go deeper than 60 meters.

An important calculation on the part of Russia, as well as its rivals, is not only increasing its own energy holdings, but also depriving others from exploiting the Arctic’s reserves. The extraction of shale oil and natural gas in the US has already changed the structure of the world energy market to Russia’s detriment.

According to the Berliner Zeitung, the Kremlin wants to expand the Russian fleet in the Arctic. The Russian navy has been a presence in the region since Soviet times, but Moscow wants to deploy it commercially to accompany foreign freighters in the Northeast Passage.

Besides these economic and geo-strategic considerations, Russia is preparing for a possible military conflict with the US. NATO has advanced further into Eastern Europe since the Ukraine crisis and it is provoking Russia once again with its latest military exercises in the Arctic.

While the American media agitates against Russian military exercises in order to justify Washington’s own military buildup, most of the Russian Navy vessels are in a miserable condition. The Berliner Zeitung writes that most military experts believe a large part of the Russian navy operating on the oceans of the world, is “ripe for the scrap heap.” Taken together, the rival countries bordering the Arctic, all of which belong to NATO, possess a much more powerful and technically superior military presence in the region.

By Clara Weiss

Originally published at: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/02/arct-s02.html

 
RELATED POSTS
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
Imagine – the European Union were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe. Take the TTIP – under pressure from their masters in Washington, behind closed doors under utmost secrecy – and most likely against their own personal good – a small group of European Commission (EC) delegates without scruples, without any respect for their co-citizens, without consideration for their children, grand-children and their ...
READ MORE
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
We all know how the story goes. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then controversially annexed in 1981, despite the UN calling the efforts “null”, “void” and “without international legal effect”. Today it is still internationally and legally recognised as Syrian land, but Israel persists with its possession. Of course, such persistence can prove to be quite lucrative when the land is abundant in resources – especially land as fertile as the Syrian Golan – a generous source of gushing waters and game changing oil reserves. In fact, the Golan Heights contributes a quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer. But the Golan Heights does ...
READ MORE
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
This article was first published on August 1, 2010 “It isn’t just conspiracy theorists who are concerned about HAARP. The European Union called the project a global concern and passed a resolution calling for more information on its health and environmental risks. Despite those concerns, officials at HAARP insist the project is nothing more sinister than a radio science research facility.” – Quote from a TV documentary on HAARP by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a little-known, yet critically important U.S. military defense program which has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years in certain circles. Though denied by HAARP officials, some respected researchers allege that secret electromagnetic warfare capabilities of HAARP are designed to forward the US military’s stated goal of achieving full-spectrum dominance by the year 2020. Others go so far as to claim that HAARP can and has been used ...
READ MORE
“Putinism” In American History: Lincoln, Roosevelt, And The Fight Against ISIS
Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this. The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its implementation.” Putin has continued to play a specific role in the history of his country and the world. It is in his role as a leader of Russia that we can really define “Putinism.” However, when examining his achievements, Putin’s role and methods are not so different from those utilized by ...
READ MORE
Russia And The Ukraine – The Other Side Of The Story
We ”know” how evil the Russians and Putin are, yet most Americans know little about this area of the world: a recent poll found only 1 in 6 Americans could locate the Ukraine on a map. Beyond geography, the US, a historical “newcomer”, has often underappreciated the importance of history and related cultural differences. Russians and Ukrainians, comprising the “Eastern Slavs”, are ethnically related. Were it not for some tragic history, they would have had closer ties today than those afforded by the US/UK “special relationship”. Their history stretches back at least 700 years before the first settlers landed in America when Kiev was the center of power of a nascent Russian state. In the early 15th century, as the center of power shifted north-eastward, Moscow assumed the mantle of power. After Mongol domination ended in the early 15th century, Russia has had to fend of numerous  threats – then powerful Poland/Lithuania union in ...
READ MORE
The Fall Of The Unipower
Dear Readers and Friends: The distinguished and knowledgeable international commentator William Engdahl, in a superb statement, has expressed the view I gave you that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on September 28 at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations changed the balance of power in the world. Until Putin’s speech the world was intimidated by the Washington Bully. Resistance to Washington brought swift retribution. In the Middle East and Africa it brought economic sanctions and military invasions that destroyed entire countries. In France and other US vassal states it brought multi-billion dollar confiscations of bank net worth as the price of not following Washington’s policies toward other countries. Other countries felt powerless in the face of the arrogant hegemonic Unipower, which from time to time replied to noncompliance with threats, such as US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage delivered to Pakistan, to bomb noncompliant countries “back to the stone age.” ...
READ MORE
Palestinian Suffering?
Let’s imagine for just a moment that a people was forcibly dispossessed of its homeland. Let’s imagine that a portion of this people had rotted in refugee camps for some seven decades while others had lived under a brutal military occupation for almost five decades. Let’s imagine that the people living under this military occupation were systematically tortured, abused, stolen from, and prevented from exercising their most basic and universally ratified human and political rights. Let’s imagine that for nearly a decade, a part of this people was placed under an inhuman and illegal siege that brought about the complete collapse of their already desperate economy, and rendered their environment borderline unfit for human inhabitation. Let’s imagine that, on top of the expulsion, military occupation, and inhuman and illegal siege, these people suffered periodic massacres, the most recent of which killed more than 2,200 people, including 550 children, and destroyed or rendered uninhabitable fully 18,000 homes. Let’s imagine ...
READ MORE
The Atlantic Alliance’s “Holy War” Against The Islamic State (ISIS): NATO’s Role In The Recruitment Of Islamic Terrorists (According To Israeli Intelligence News Source)
This article was first published in September 2014. Can we believe Hollande and Cameron? Evidence confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist terrorists  While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria,  NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters. Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters in Brussels in liaison with the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, was involved in the enlisting of thousands of terrorists: “Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish ...
READ MORE
Why The West Can Never Defeat Or “Forgive” Russia
Historically and intuitively, Russia has fought for the survival of humanity. Of course, things are not always pronounced or defined in such terms. However, already on several occasions, this enormous country has stood up against the most mighty and evil forces that have threatened the very survival of our Planet. During the Second World War, the Soviet people, mainly Russians, sacrificed at least 25 million men, women and children, in the end defeating Nazism. No other country in modern history has undergone more. Right after that victory, Russia, alongside China and later Cuba, embarked on the most awesome and noble project of all times: the systematic dismantling of Western colonialism. All over the world oppressed masses stood up against European and North American imperialist barbarity, and it was the Soviet Union that was ready to give them a beacon of hope, as well as substantial financial, ideological and military support. As one oppressed ...
READ MORE
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States. CIA:  The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg.  The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved.  CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project);  multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war). The ...
READ MORE
Phantom Tanks and the Desperation of Kiev
How many times have we seen this before? The President of the United States is on TV telling us horror stories. Some innocent people in some corner of the world are being crushed, he tells us. They face some monstrously evil oppressor, he says. While the United States doesn’t like war, what choice is there? Sacrifices must be made, cruise missiles must be unleashed, to protect the poor and innocent. The world is the set of an action movie, and the US is the tragic hero, forced to rescue the innocent. This is the script we heard in former Yugoslavia. Bill Clinton claimed to be stoping “mass rapes” and “concentration camps.” After the smoke had cleared, and thousands had been killed, the truth came out. The United Nations admitted that no “genocide” had taken place. The talk of mass rapes and concentration camps had been hype. While the alleged crimes used to justify ...
READ MORE
A Hybrid War To Break The Balkans?
In the spirit of the New Cold War and following on its success in snuffing out South Stream, the US has prioritized its efforts in obstructing Russia’s Balkan Stream pipeline, and for the most part, they’ve regretfully succeeded for the time being. The first challenge came from the May 2015 Color Revolution attempt in Macedonia, which thankfully was repulsed by the country’s patriotic citizenry. Next up on the destabilization agenda was the political turmoil that threatened to take hold of Greece in the run-up and aftermath of the austerity referendum, the idea being that if Tsipras were deposed, then Balkan Stream would be replaced with the US-friendly Eastring project. Once more, the Balkans proved resilient and the American plot was defeated, but it was the third and most directly antagonist maneuver that snipped the project in the bud and placed it on indefinite standby. ‘Lucky’ Number Three: The climactic action happened on ...
READ MORE
Appeal from U.S. to World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force. Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging. In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances ...
READ MORE
David Cameron, The British Empire And The Issue Of Slavery
There are few more intrinsically brutal facts than slavery’s role in the building of European, and then subsequently, its various settler empires.  As a system, it became the peculiar institution, as it was euphemistically termed, in the American south. It signified a demographic theft that the African continent has struggled to overcome, a shock of exponential proportion. Slavery was always lucrative, not merely because it filled the pockets of owners and investors, but because it was literally a state-building enterprise.  The development of the southern US states, be it in terms of infrastructure, would have been inconceivable without slave labour.   In 1776, it was estimated that 40 members of the British parliament were deriving earnings from enslaved entities of the Caribbean. This historical burden has been handled in an assortment of ways. Caribbean voices were particularly angered at the end of September when Prime Minister David Cameron ducked and weaved around the ...
READ MORE
Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?
The objectives of the US military presence in Africa are well documented: counter Chinese influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than 8 years ago by the US State Department: In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012) At the beginning of February,  AFRICOM’s “head General David Rodriguez called for a large-scale US-led ‘counterinsurgency’ campaign against groups in West Africa during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC: In ...
READ MORE
WWIII Aimed To Redraw Map Of Russia?
The end goal of the US and NATO is to divide (balkanize) and pacify (finlandize) the world’s biggest country, the Russian Federation, and to even establish a blanket of perpetual disorder (somalization) over its vast territory or, at a minimum, over a portion of Russia and the post-Soviet space, similarly to what is being done to the Middle East and North Africa. The future Russia or the many future Russias, a plurality of weakened and divided states, that Washington and its NATO allies see is/are demographically in decline, de-industrialized, poor, without any defensive capabilities, and hinterlands that will exploited for their resources.  The Plans of the Empire of Chaos for Russia Breaking the Soviet Union has not been enough for Washington and NATO. The ultimate goal of the US is to prevent any alternatives from emerging in Europe and Eurasia to Euro-Atlantic integration. This is why the destruction of Russia is one ...
READ MORE
False Flag Terror. A Historical Overview
First published on September 12, 2015 Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos: (1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasionsadmitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the ‘Incident’ was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” And see this. (2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the ...
READ MORE
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by West Germany and for the Cold War to end, was that NATO would not expand «one inch to the east». This was the agreement that was approved by the Russian President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, a great man and a subsequent hero to democrats around the world. He agreed then to end the Soviet Union and abandon communism and thus to end the entire Cold War; he agreed to this because he had been promised that NATO would expand not «one inch to the east,» or «one inch eastward,» depending upon how the promise was translated and understood — but it has the same meaning, no matter how it was translated. He trusted American President George Herbert Walker Bush, whose friend and Secretary of State James Baker made this promise to Gorbachev. With this ...
READ MORE
A Serb View Of Partnership Action Plan With NATO
From Brussels we hear here in Serbia, the signing of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) is a "new phase in relations with NATO." While Ivica Dacic and Bratislav Gasic issue PR proclamations applauding themselves though, many Serbians are dissenting. Here's the other side of the coin. The dictatorial government that rules Serbia is leading our people into ruin. Slowly but surely we leave military neutrality and become just another puppet state, a pawn in the greater game of western hegemony. We’re a  puppet country with  a puppet government. Unfortunately for us, the government can defend its argument that NATO membership was chosen by  the vast majority of our people, but here with us, many are now ashamed to be Serbs. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Defense Minister Bratislav Gašić signed the so-called IPAP, or the Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO. It should be carved in stone here that ...
READ MORE
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
“Putinism” In American History: Lincoln, Roosevelt, And The Fight Against ISIS
Russia And The Ukraine – The Other Side Of The Story
The Fall Of The Unipower
Palestinian Suffering?
The Atlantic Alliance’s “Holy War” Against The Islamic State (ISIS): NATO’s Role In The Recruitment Of Islamic Terrorists (According To Israeli Intelligence News Source)
Why The West Can Never Defeat Or “Forgive” Russia
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
Phantom Tanks and the Desperation of Kiev
A Hybrid War To Break The Balkans?
Appeal from U.S. to World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes
David Cameron, The British Empire And The Issue Of Slavery
Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?
WWIII Aimed To Redraw Map Of Russia?
False Flag Terror. A Historical Overview
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
A Serb View Of Partnership Action Plan With NATO

Share

One thought on “US Imperialism And The New Race To The Arctic

Leave a Reply