The strategic implications of steadily melting Arctic ice. It’s one of those perennial stories of the U.S. defense trade, alongside “the end of U.S. air supremacy,” “cyber Pearl Harbor” and “China conquers the world.”
The story always starts and ends the same way. Up top, how global climate change will, by 2015 or so, result in ice-free Arctic summers — allowing shipping and oil and natural-gas extraction. At the bottom, how the U.S. isn’t doing enough to secure its slice of the Arctic pie. I should know: in weaker moments, I’ve written this tale, too.
But the story, my versions included, usually omits two vital points: that Arctic conflict is unlikely to occur at all; and even if it does, the U.S. will have an overwhelming advantage over any rival.
The Washington Post was the latest to repeat the Arctic-war theme, in a story published yesterday. “The Arctic is believed to hold nearly a quarter of the world’s untapped natural resources and a new passage could shave as much as 40 percent of the time it takes for commercial shippers to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” Jacquelyn Ryan wrote.