Arctic Rhetoric

By Erica Dingman

The World Policy Institute

Despite ongoing cooperation between Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the United States– mainstream rhetoric often implies Arctic stakeholders are teetering on the brink of conflict. To a great extent, this sentiment is reflected in mass media and political banter, inflaming the passions of audiences. This is true, not only in the U.S. but also elsewhere, evidenced in the mass media reporting of other Arctic nations and beyond.

Consider, for instance, the impact of headlines pronouncing a “New Cold War” or a “Rush for Riches,” headlines not uncommon in U.S. media. Some reactions may be visceral– insidiously implanting notions of fear, lust, or chaos into the very core of society. Similarly, political banter suggesting belligerent rivalries reminiscent of bygone years may well influence public opinion to the detriment of strengthened Arctic relations.

A case in point occurred in December 2013 when Canada submitted its claim to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS), verbally asserting Canada’s bond to the North Pole. However, the Canadian government submitted only preliminary information on its Arctic, excluding the crucial scientific evidence that would substantiate such a pronouncement.

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