Iraq Daily Roundup: Three Killed - Original

US Army Identifies Arctic as Battleground With Russia and China

Last week the U.S. Army released a
new strategic policy document entitled Regaining Arctic Dominance
an exhaustive 48-page work with valuable background information and striking
graphics. Because of its length an attempt to summarize it with the accuracy
and comprehensiveness would be a work of several pages itself.

Instead, some of the more significant background data and other key components
of the document will be listed.

Regarding what the Pentagon refers to as the Far North, NATO
as the High North
and journalists as the top of the world, the following
facts are relevant and excerpted from the Army study.

“The Arctic has the potential to become a contested space where United
States’ great power rivals, Russia and China, seek to use military and economic
power to gain and maintain access to the region at the expense of US interests.
US National Security Strategy highlights the Arctic as a corridor for expanded
strategic great power competition between two regions – the Indo-Pacific and

The Arctic is where three of the US’s regional, geographic military commands
– Northern Command, European Command (which is to say NATO as well) and
Indo-Pacific Command – converge.

There are five Arctic littoral states: NATO members the US, Canada, Denmark
and Norway, and Russia. The new strategy states rather bluntly that “The
Army needs to generate forces able to compete effectively by, with, and through
allies and partners, to pose dilemmas to adversaries as they seek to gain access
to and compete in the region.” That means Russia and China, who are described
not as partners, not even as rivals, but as adversaries.

The new Army policy identifies four arenas of rivalry and potential conflict
between the US and its NATO allies and Russia and China: military developments,
energy and minerals, transportation and food security.

The above division of allies and adversaries, the second repeatedly described
by NATO as authoritarian enemies of the rules-based international order,

is further delineated in the Army paper as follows:

“While most Arctic nations are US allies, America’s great power competitors
– Russia and China – have developed Arctic strategies with geopolitical goals
contrary to US interests. Russia seeks to consolidate sovereign claims and control
access to the region. China aims to gain access to Arctic resources and sea
routes to secure and bolster its military, economic, and scientific rise.”

In the military category, “The Arctic is essential to Russia’s military
power.” Indeed it is, as even the US Army is compelled to concede that
“As the country with the largest amount of land above the Arctic Circle,
Russia’s first priority is defending its historic right to rule over the Far
North, securing its territorial interests against those of NATO-aligned states.”

In 1949 no one in Washington or Brussels foresaw, at at any rate foretold that
the newly-founded North Atlantic Treaty Organization would evolve into a North
Arctic Treaty Organization. But sixty
years later NATO acknowledged just that.

Regarding the American military’s concern with energy competition in
the Arctic, the document states:

“75% of Russia’s oil and 95% of its natural gas reserves are located
in the North. The Arctic accounts for nearly 20% of Russia’s DP, 22% of its
exports, and more than 10% of all investment in Russia.”

And in general:

“According to most estimates, the Arctic is home to 13% of the world’s
oil, or 90 billion barrels, as well as 30% of the world’s natural gas, an estimated
47 trillion cubic meters. Additionally, the Arctic has vast deposits of base
metals (aluminum, copper, iron, nickel and tin), precious metals (gold, platinum,
and silver), precious stones (diamonds), other minerals (apatite, graphite,
and gypsum) as well as uranium. Perhaps most importantly to digital societies
around the world, the Arctic is also a source of rare earth metals (dysprosium,
neodymium, and praseodymium). These metals allow the miniaturization of components
for aircraft engines and advanced weapons as well as televisions, smart phones,
laptops, cars, and cancer treatment drugs.”

That should clearly establish the rationale for the Scramble for the Arctic.

In a remarkable concession to the truth which will certainly never get into
press reviews and academic discussions of it, the document concedes that “Russia’s
efforts to reconstitute its military posture in the Arctic are primarily for
territorial defense purposes and protection of Russia’s second-strike capabilities.”

That is, in both cases for purposes of defense. Second-strike options are primarily
– one hopes entirely – for deterrent purposes.

For decades the US and Britain have conducted submarine exercises under the
polar ice cap, arguably the last redoubt for Russian nuclear submarines, themselves
the last line of second-strike deterrent protection. The Pentagon’s and
NATO’s expansion into the Arctic is in part an effort to deprive Russia
of any potential of deterring or responding to a joint U.S.-NATO first strike,
conventional or nuclear.

To the overall purpose of regaining and maintaining military dominance in the
Arctic, “The Army will generate Arctic-capable forces ready to compete
and win in extended operations in extreme cold weather and high-altitude environments.”

In a section titled Project Power Across the Arctic, the document
states, “The Army will improve the materiel readiness of Arctic-capable
units to conduct extended operations in the region,” in part with ongoing
war games like Arctic Warrior and Arctic Edge conducted with NATO allies.

The Arctic may become the decisive battleground of the 21st century. The stakes
couldn’t be higher.

Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work
in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is
the manager of Stop NATO. This
originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.

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