Monday, June 3, 2013
A real quick post this morning, due to the fact that I was across the state for graduation and unable to prepare any sort of lengthy post. The shrinking, and weakening of, the polar ice cap opens up the opportunity for new shipping route along the Arctic sea to the north; as seen by the image from Stratfors website. This could have interesting geopolitical fall out for nations, not only with nearby access to the Arctic sea, but also those nations who are very far away from that part of the world.
The geopolitics implications, in my opinion, are relatively minor for the United States. The opening of the sea will do nothing to change the United States current status as ruler of the wave. Unlike in many other instances of US force projection over the last century, the US will benefit from being able to us their own territory that borders the arctic passage way. The Bering Strait is only 44 miles wide it's most narrow point, easily within range of most land based defensive systems, and could potentially be a point of confrontation in the future.
Canada and Russia will benefit most from the opening of the arctic sea, and the energy resources that lie on the seabed, however, alot of nations will, or could potentially, benefit from the opening of the arctic sea shipping lanes.
It would not be a stretch to say that, baring nations such as Australia or Brazil, the most economically significant nations are all in the north of the equator. It is these nations that stand the most to gain from the opening of new passage ways.
European nations, out of anyone, probably will benefit the most from the arrangement. While they have a similar desire for cheap foreign goods from Asia, like their Yankee cousins across the Atlantic, the also trade a lot of their own goods over developing Asia. Currently, the quickest way is to send their goods either through the red sea, which brings them dangerously close to the horn of Africa and the Somali pirates, or a very long voyage across multiple oceans.
Conversely the Asian nations also stand to benefit greatly in terms of trade. While the United States remains one of the most important destination for their goods, the collective body of Europe remains an important second. The same problem that exists for Europe also exists for Asia. For nations heavily dependent on trade like South Korea, TAPG of 92%, and to a lesser extent China, TAPG of 45%, This could potentially be a big boon.
What really will be interesting to see is how this will affect nations far away from this new trade route. How will Singapore be affected if more materials goods between Europe and Asia are shipped through the Arctic rather than the Indian Ocean? What will happen to Egypt if the Mediterranean nations decide that the Arctic passage is more desirable than going through their canals? Will Russia unclose their side of the strait? Will Nome go from a small fishing town of 9,000 to a major shipping hub? Will the Diomede Islands, situated almost in the middle of the straights,become a major military center like Honolulu? Time will tell.