Over the past months, an unexpected world of economic activity has opened up across Russia’s Arctic frontier with the unveiling of the Polar Silk Road. While many western business and political interests have seen this incredible opening up of the last unexplored frontier on the earth as a chance for dialogue and peace, too many neo conservative warmongers and neo-liberal technocrats have chosen instead to view this development as a threat to be destroyed at all costs.
American Neocons Respond
Representing the regressive neocon viewpoint, Mike Pompeo described his geopolitical view of the Arctic seaway as “the 21st century Panama and Suez Canals” – then hypocritically attacked China as a threat to America saying: “China’s pattern of aggressive behavior elsewhere should inform what we do, and how it might treat the Arctic… Do we want crucial Arctic infrastructure to end up like Chinese-constructed roads in Ethiopia? Crumbling and dangerous after only a few years. Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea? Fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims.”
Before the end of June, American lawmakers will vote on a bill to increase military capabilities in the long-neglected arctic under National Defense Authorization Act 2020 which proposes to upgrade America’s dismal ice breaker fleet from its current roster of one (compared to Russia’s 40) and develop one or more military ports in Alaska. The NDAA 2020 both recognizes the Russia-China economic leadership in the zone and calls for creating infrastructure needed to tap into the “abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources” which would make America a competitor.
The Case of Canada
While the militarist/monetarist neocons on the “right” push confrontation and war, militarily impotent Canadian technocrats under the control of the Privy Council Office (currently managed by Rhodes Scholar Chrystia Freeland) have taken a slightly different anti-Polar Silk Road policy. This policy is essentially a religious commitment to doing nothing and demand that others join in this absence of all activity.
In the wake of the successful St Petersburg Arctic Forum on April 9-10, a non-partisan parliamentary Canadian study group published an incredibly positive white paper calling for Canada to respond to the polar silk road by reforming the entire 70 year Arctic doctrine from its Cold War mindset to becoming a zone of mass infrastructure development and growth in harmony with the Eurasian philosophy. The governing elite of the Anglo-Canadian establishment took one whole month to assess this remarkably sane proposal before deciding to go in the opposite direction.
In May 23, the chosen course of action began to take form with the submission of a 1200 page report to the United Nations claiming that the North Pole is the sole property of Canada. The Canadian “scientific” study supposedly found that since the continental shelf connected to Ellesmere Island extends to the North Pole’s Lomonosov Ridge (disputed with Russia since 2007), Canada’s property in the Arctic can be grown to 1.2 million squared kilometers. This zone, which extends far beyond the 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” has been a point of conflict for years and was used to provoke a diplomatic crisis in 2007 when a Russian scientific submarine planted a Russian flag on the sea bed, and again in 2014 when then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, humored Canada’s joining NATO’s ABM shield in the Arctic stated that Santa Claus is Canadian.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gleefully said of this Arctic claim: “Canada is committed to furthering its leadership in the Arctic. Defining our continental shelf is vital to ensuring our sovereignty and to serving the interests of all people, including indigenous peoples in the Arctic. Today’s submission is a major step toward securing legal and international recognition of the outer limits of Canada’s continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.”
Technocrats Dig their Heals into the Permafrost: Demand Stasis for All
The next phase of Canada’s anti-Polar Silk Road policy has now been unveiled in the form of Bills C-48, C-69, C-88 and a fourth Bill passed on June 17 declaring that Canada is officially in a “Climate Emergency”.
All three major omnibus bills passed just days of each other might cause one to think of a toddler having a temper tantrum in a super market, screaming while letting their bodies go limp and forcing their annoyed parents to drag them out of the store.
Under the hysteria fomented by Canada’s new “climate emergency”, Bill C-48 legally enforces a moratorium on all oil tankers in Northern British Columbia banning their existence from Vancouver Island all the way to Alaska.
Bill C-88 amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act banning all offshore Arctic drilling thus taking a policy begun by Trudeau and Obama in December 2016 when the duo declared the Arctic “off limits” to all development, and now establishing it in the form of law for the first time. Once given “Royal Assent” (all laws must be approved by the Monarchy), all existing licenses will be frozen and financial compensation will be given to all companies who have purchased exploratory licenses in Canadian waters.
Bill C-49 overhauls the already over-bloated environmental review process for all energy infrastructure making it even more impossible than it previously was to start any new infrastructure across the vast Arctic.
These three bills combined threaten to devastate the Canadian economy which heavily relies on resource development (especially since its manufacturing sector has been so viciously hollowed out over the course of 25 years of NAFTA outsourcing). Already, Alberta which is a hub of the Canadian Yellow vest movement, is on fire with thousands protesting the shutdown of employment and economic potential under the ideologically driven craze to “stop global warming” (which has a lot more to do with stopping Russia and China than many would care to admit). The beleaguered Trudeau/Freeland government which faces collapse in the upcoming October elections has now found itself in a paradoxical situation of 1) needing to resist the growth policy driven by the Russia-China alliance on the one side while 2) needing to appease the flames of mass revolt within the country on the other side.
For this reason, Trudeau also approved the Trans Mountain pipeline project which has been on the rocks for several years. The project will increase oil and natural gas output from Alberta to 890 000 barrels/day by connecting a pipeline from Edmonton Alberta to Burnaby, BC.
The Trudeau/Freeland green regime have justified this paradoxical decision by claiming that all profits from the pipeline will now be used to fund Canada’s transition to a zero-growth green energy infrastructure grid which will ironically prohibit all such major projects from ever being built again. If it sounds absurd, that is because all empires committed to a policy of Malthusian depopulation must somehow balance an agenda of killing human cattle on the one side while keeping those cattle happy enough to vote into power those political operatives assigned to cull the herd.
China and Russia Understand Real Economics
In opposition to monetarists and Malthusians dominant across the Anglo-sphere, the leadership of Russia and China have demonstrated a clear understanding of the core principles of real economics and the moral/intellectual/financial bankruptcy of the derivatives-laden western banking system. Describing the collapse of the “each against all paradigm”, President Putin said on June 6th that the world was suffering under a “fragmentation of the global economic space by a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown. But this is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.”
He went on to describe the need for “a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. However, I am convinced that talk about an economic world order like this will remain wishful thinking unless we return to the centre of the discussion, that is, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of every country to its own development road and, let me add, responsibility for universal sustainable development, not just for one’s own development.”
This positive approach is at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative, and its Arctic extensions which are founded upon the respect of each participating nation, as well as the group of nations working on projects which satisfy common aims and interests of all people. Under this system, which uplifts the conditions of life of every individual as well as the productive powers of labour of each nation, private interests, and public good do not find themselves in contradiction since everyone aspires to make life better for their children.
Great projects rooted in scientific and technological progress satisfy that need brilliantly. Both China and Russia know that if the world is to embark upon great infrastructure projects as the foundation for the new order of constant progress and “win-win cooperation” then the Arctic’s vast resources will be vital in that recipe for success. If the west is intelligent then it will reject the zero-growth agenda which has designated Canada’s Arctic as untouchable as fast as they reject the zero-sum neocon agenda of militarism and unilateralism.