Timothy Choi

This paper reconsiders extant discourses on Arctic security within the wider body of militarization literature and suggests that the enduring peacetime roles of Arctic maritime forces has resulted in a limited, but recognizable, militarism. However, this militarism is not to be confused with alarmist interpretations of potential interstate conflict or a predilection towards violence. Rather, in focusing on the blurred responsibilities between regional naval, coast guard, and civilian organizations, I highlight the social-economic and material dependencies between Arctic civil societies and their governments’ security providers. Specifically, this paper compares Norwegian, Danish, and Canadian approaches to their respective regional maritime security interests, emphasizing how the process of militarization has developed in the relationships between their Arctic civil societies and those countries’ Arctic maritime security infrastructures. It argues that Arctic literature would do well to move beyond binary debates over whether the Arctic is or is not militarized, and instead recognize that certain sectors of regional societies have long been dependent on the continued sustainment and modernization of maritime and, occasionally, naval power, which continuously provides support for peacetime civilian ways of life. Only with this understanding can the material developments of Arctic military and paramilitary power be properly contextualized.

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