Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where Politeness Counts for Little

Canada and Russia are both looking north and a northern cold war could one day result. Canada's good international reputation may be a liability in a contest with the Russians.

I wondered if NATO would need to rotate 90 degrees to have an impact on this new frontline. I even asked how roles would change when Canada becomes the frontline NATO state and the rest of European NATO is the rear area, in a reversal of the situation during the Cold War.

Canada is beefing up their military capacity to operate in and lay claim to the north, but oddly the Canadians don't want NATO help:

Canada even rebuffed NATO's offer to help it defend its Arctic interests against Russia. According to a US diplomatic cable published in June by WikiLeaks, Canada is not only concerned that having NATO in the Arctic would exacerbate simmering tensions with Russia but Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper fretted it might give non-Arctic states influence in a part of the world where "they don't belong."

Well, we'll see how Canada can cope with Russia on its own or with their own coalition of the willing among states with existing interests in the Arctic Circle. There is some logic in wanting only American, Danish, and Norwegian help without mucking things up trying to negotiate for French or Greek help by going through NATO. But NATO is the alliance that has been the focus of all these European states for many decades now, and how well can they operate outside of NATO?

And even our help is problematic for Canada since Canada makes claims about controlling waters in their north that we consider international waters.

If the Russians can really make a big push to stake out claims, Canada will have little choice but to ask for NATO help.