Adam P. MacDonald
The Arctic is one the world’s most stable regions, but whether this trajectory will continue is a source of growing debate as the region becomes more connected within an international landscape increasingly defined by great power competition, specifically between the United States, China and Russia. Many Realist-based analyses argue stability has largely been a function of the Arctic being a strategically unimportant space, but its opening economic and military potential will increasingly attract great power interest and result in contestation between them over shaping the regional landscape to their advantage: a process the region is poorly equipped to mitigate against. Conversely, many Institutionalist and Constructivist-based analyses argue a thickening institutional network of organizations, practices, and identities, based on and in conjunction with durable common interests, has and will continue to foster cooperation, involvement in and support for the current Arctic regional order by these great powers despite increasing tensions between them elsewhere. Both accounts have strengths and weaknesses, but in general this debate creates the impression that Arctic stability is predicated on whether great power competition is/will become a major influence in regional politics (unstable situation) or not (stable situation). Alternatively, this paper proposes that regional stability can remain even amongst augmenting levels of great power competition. This is so for the Arctic strategic landscape as it is premised on a Latent Balance of Power- defined by the region’s geographic division of authority, strategic alignments, and state coherence – that has ensured stability and the emergence of a decentralized but robust regional order. Great power competition is and will increasingly become part of Arctic politics, but this specific balance of power configuration is well positioned in attenuating it. This does not guarantee the maintenance of the status-quo, however, for beyond the popular portrayals of the region as either on the brink of debilitating contestation or maintaining its ‘exceptionalism’ is a third possibility:sub-regionalization into continentally anchored configurations of power based on exclusionary logics employed by great powers to deny each other position and influence in certain parts of the Arctic. Determination of the region’s continued coherence,however, is not solely the purview of great powers but the ways in which regional states work through and adjust to great power competition manifesting in the Arctic.
Pituffik or Thule in Greenland has always been controversial within foreign and security policy between three parties: Denmark,Greenland and the USA. The Thule-base in Greenland has had an important role during the Cold War as part of the US military sphere in the North. The role of the base has changed over time to become a radar station, but it is still part of the overall US defense system. Recent tensions around the base regarding the contract and subcontractor’s role have intensified discussions about the existence of the base and who actually has power over the base. The Greenlandic government has had awish to be more influential on what is going on in the far north, but things have been held secret from the public and local politicians. This has resulted in some skepticism between Greenland and Denmark on the one hand, but also between Greenland and the USA on the other. This paper will shed light on the development from the bilateral to the trilateral relationship outplayed between the three major actors and how this relates to foreign and security policy within the Kingdom of Denmark and the relationship towards the USA.
Minori Takahashi, Shinji Kawana, Kousuke Saitou, Yu Koizumi, Shino Hateruma & Ayae Shimizu
In this paper, in order to shed light on some of the factors behind the change in the security environment in the Arctic region, we examine the history and the points of dispute concerning military bases, by taking up the US military base in Greenland (Thule Air Base) as the case study. We incorporate as explanatory variables the politics of the host country, i.e., the relationship between the local political actor of Greenland and the Danish central government,and the politics of the base provider (the United States) and Russia, which is intensifying its military activities in the Arctic region. Concretely, we first clarify the scope of the paper by pointing to the bargaining between central governments and local political actors about military bases - to the elements that constitute the vulnerability of central governments (the substitutability, urgency and specificity of bases), the form of bargaining that brings it under control (integration, institutionalization, distribution), and its balance with the effect of hold-up by local political actors wishing to reverse the asymmetrical power relationship. We then examine the validity of that approach through an actual case: the bargaining regarding the inclusion of Thule Air Base into the US missile defense shield.
Mathieu Landriault & Adam MacDonald
This article’s purpose is to analyze media portrayals of Arctic security through an empirical analysis of the media coverage of NATO’s Trident Juncture (TJ) military exercise. News outlets are influential as they promote specific representations of reality and have the potential to alter people’s perceptions. For the purpose of this study, the media coverage of Trident Juncture,spanning 10 media sources and totalizing 31 journalistic articles, was analyzed to assess how NATO’s initiatives in theArctic region were portrayed in the North American and Western European media. Overall, we found that NATO’s presence in the region was presented positively, downplaying the risks of accidents, miscalculations or escalation. Right-wing publications were typically more likely to present Russia as an existential threat while specialized news outlets provided more detailed coverage and in-depth reporting and analysis.
The discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Arctic placed the Arctic region high on the national agenda in Russia. As a result, in official documents and political statements, the Russian Arctic is mainly framed in terms of national, economic and military security as the Arctic is positioned as a strategic source for national development. A connection between security and development remains unproblematised in the main discourse. The Russian economy in general depends on incomes from petroleum revenues. Some of Russian regions prosper due to oil and gas extraction sites located on their territory. At the sametime, the Russian Arctic for decades has been a place with difficult socio-economic situations due to an incoherent state policytowards the region. This brings a lot of insecurities and instabilities in daily life for people living in the Russian Arctic. Nonetheless, these insecurities are not visible in the official narrative of security and development. Therefore, this article will be demonstrate how security and development are interconnected. Another question it will address is whether human security has a place in the Russian security landscape at all? These questions will be answered in several steps. First, I discuss connections articulated in the literature on development and security. With the help of a framing approach, I explore how the Russian state approaches development and security in the Arctic. Third, using the case of the Murmansk region, I expose a regional understanding of development and security. In the end, I will compare and discuss regional and national perspectives.
Sweden, Norway and Finland are the countries with advanced economic development and social security systems that are actively implementing UN Agenda 2030. In this study I investigate Arctic human security in the northern regions of Sweden, Norway and Finland. Human security is constructed as “proclaimed” or stated in the official documents and as “experienced” by people. I study proclaimed human security in the Arctic reflected in national human security agendas and human security coverage in the national Arctic strategies. Experienced human security construct incorporates objective measures of economic, health and personal security. Economic security is measured as disposable income and poverty risk. Health human security is measured as tertiary education attainment and hospital beds available per 1000 people. Personal human security is proxied by crime rates by type of criminal offences (e.g. traffic, sexual). The results of the study indicate that human security is presented strongly in national and foreign policy agendas, but rather weakly in the Arctic strategies. People who live in the Arctic regions have substantially lower levels of disposable income on average and are at higher poverty risk especially compared with the capital regions of the same countries. Tertiary education attainment data demonstrates risk in human security for the male population. Crime statistics indicate higher risks of traffic offences in northern Finland and higher sexual offences risks in the northern Norway regions. The study identifies the risks and discusses disconnectedness between national human security agendas, SDGsand Arctic strategies. Human security lenses can be useful for identifying most imminent risks in human security and tailoring SDGs to the Arctic-specific context.