Secretary Clinton is touring the Arctic Circle, signalling how important this region is becoming to the United States as ice melts, and sea lanes open up. Commenting on her visit, she stated: “many of the predictions about warming in the Arctic are being surpassed by the actual data.” “That was not necessarily surprising but sobering…”
She also dwelled on the geostrategic implications of a warming arctic, and highlighted the importance of cooperating with Arctic nations through established institutions:
From a strategic standpoint, the Arctic has an increasing geopolitical importance as countries vie to protect their rights and extend their influence… We want to work with Norway and the Arctic Council to help manage these changes and to agree on what would be, in effect, the rules of the road in the Arctic, so new developments are economically sustainable and environmentally responsible…
The significant changes in the Arctic are essentially uncharted territory for international security. They are ushering in a new paradigm of increased attention to the Arctic not just from Arctic nations (U.S., Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark), but from other growing powers like India and China, who are seeking a seat the Arctic Council table.
Hopefully the international institutions already in place are up to this new challenge.