Evaluation of the Arctic - Will it Become an Area of Cooperation or Conflict?   [open pdf - 523KB]

"Climate change and the vast amount of natural resources in the Arctic region have prompted awareness of the need for new policies among Arctic states, including the U.S., and stimulated throughout the entire international community a critical assessment of the issues regarding the Arctic region. All of this could result in potential conflict in this critical region of the world. The Arctic's ice cover as of spring 2010 was the lowest it has ever been at that time of year, and it is melting faster than once thought, making it possible for the Arctic to have an ice free summer by 2013. Due to the increase of yearly ice melt, the race to extract the natural resources will speed up tremendously in future years. Research shows that the Arctic nations strongly encourage cooperation and are currently abiding by the international laws, treaties, and infrastructures in place that allow them the most potential to benefit from the Arctic resources. However, although the Arctic nations stress cooperation in their official statements and diplomatic overtures, they are actually preparing for conflict. There are many potential flashpoints that could cause the Arctic to end in conflict, such as territorial disputes, Russia's dependency on the Arctic, and the militarization of the Arctic. The Arctic region has long been neglected by the U.S; however, due to the current situation in the Arctic and the potential for new threats to the U.S. homeland, the region is becoming a far more important issue and is gaining the attention of the U.S. government. The major question this thesis will examine concerns the future of the Arctic: is it heading for conflict, or for cooperation? In addition, the state of U.S. security with respect to the Arctic will be evaluated, and recommendations for U.S. national and homeland security policy will be provided."

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