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Daily Brief Geostrategic thinking

Arctic in the reconfiguration of global power relations

The Arctic is strategic. The White House has just published a 10-year strategy for the region: Bryant Harris writes about it for Defense News. The analysis is very rich and particularly interesting.

The spirit of exasperated confrontation continues. The US strategy, Harris writes, emphasises deterring increased Russian and Chinese activity in the region. The Pentagon, the author notes, last month established an Arctic Strategy and Global Resilience Office led by Iris Ferguson as deputy assistant secretary of defence for the Arctic – a new position. She will oversee several elements of the White House’s Arctic strategy, such as coordinating with U.S. security partners and force modernisation.

On Washington’s side, the reasons for strategic interest in the Arctic are also related to the environmental crisis (the dynamics of which are inextricably linked to those of defence and security). Harris points out: The Arctic strategy notes that the U.S. will “improve Arctic observing, mapping and charting; weather, water and sea ice forecasting; sub-seasonal and seasonal prediction; emergency preparedness posture; and satellite coverage to enable efficient trade and to ensure maritime and air safety” amid the rapidly changing environment.

The American interest is clear and we look at it with a critical eye. We understand Uncle Sam’s thrust on enhancing his own strategic interests but it is not by continuing in this way that the ‘political sustainability’ of the world will be achieved.

Russia and China’s manoeuvres in the Arctic are equally invasive. But the priority today is to return to a dialogue for ‘complex security’. The world framework is undergoing a profound reconfiguration of power relations.

Finally, still awaited – by the US – is the new National Security Strategy. But, since the 2018 version, Harris writes, that Strategy pivoted away from ongoing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia to great power competition with Russia and China.