Chapter 28: Where East and West converge: the US embrace of collaborative security for the Arctic
Over the centuries, interest in the Arctic and the commercial and strategic potentials of its sea lanes and natural resources has been persistent, from the fur-trading empires of Rupert’s Land and Russian America to our own times. However, climatic conditions have prevented the region’s full potential from being achieved, holding back its development and limiting its contribution to the world economy, making it neither a rimland or a heartland but something more closely resembling what geopolitical theorist Mackinder called ‘Lenaland’ – after the isolated Lena River valley in Russia which captured the unique geostrategic insularity of the Far North, making it possible for the Cold War’s two armed and often hostile superpowers to come face-to-face along their long ice curtain with very little risk of war, in great contrast to the Central Front in the once-divided Germany where a million men stood armed and ready for war for a generation. This long isolation dates back before the dawn of mankind and accounts for the region’s unique fauna, like the polar bear and beluga whale, blending into an environment defined by ice and snow for millennia.
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