NATO in the Arctic: Cowboys and Indians redux?

Published on Intrepid Report, by Ritt Goldstein, April 8, 2013.

… It was March 2011 when The Economist headlined, Now it’s their turn, subheading ‘The Inuit prepare to defend their rights’ — it was an article addressing perceived sources of potential Arctic conflict. As for state conflict, the article noted, “countries surrounding the Arctic do not have much to argue over. The resources on land lie within clearly delineated borders and those under the sea … are largely in shallow waters within the uncontested jurisdiction of coastal states.” However, while observing that a big-power threat of frozen confrontations seems to be minimal, the piece did indeed seem to emphasize that “potential for conflict with native groups is in rich supply.”  

In this day and age, is it really possible that governments might try to run roughshod over Indigenous Peoples’ rights? Is it conceivable that the use of military force could be contemplated in securing national visions of ‘Arctic Development’?

By itself, the 3 March 2011 Economist headline means little, but curiously, almost exactly a year later, came an exercise called ‘Cold Response 2012.’ Its preparation phase began March 5, its operational and withdrawal phases running from March 12–23, according to the Norwegian Military’s (NM) website. The NM website further described the exercise as one “to rehearse high intensity operations in winter conditions within NATO with a UN mandate,” adding that “everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats and mass demonstrations” would be “handled” by participants. And, according to a NM press release, “approximately 16,000 participants from 15 nations (both NATO and PfP {Partnership for Peace})” were involved, with the “main international forces” (those other than Norwegian) coming from “Canada, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, UK and USA.”

Okay, on the surface of this it just seems one more NATO/PfP war game was played, but, perhaps it’s worthwhile to look just a little bit deeper. And, my gosh, articles relating to the exercise did appear in Swedish and Finnish media (Finland was reported as having a 215-man contingent participating).

Gardaland: … //

… Cowboys and Indians redux?

To return to the title of this work, ‘NATO in the Arctic: Cowboys and Indians Redux?,’ there yet remain questions, including those of recent precedents. As regards precedents for military action against the North’s Indigenous People, the SEI’s Nilsson recalled, “if you look at the location of the Thule Airbase in Greenland . . . it was certainly military interests forcing the relocation of a whole indigenous community. The Arctic has always been heavily militarized, it has been a high politics, security zone during the whole Cold War . . . it’s more coercion than military force.” And, Wikipedia describes a Norwegian example, that of the Alta Dam.

“In the fall of 1979, as construction was ready to start, protesters performed two acts of civil disobedience: at the construction site itself at Stilla, activists sat down on the ground and blocked the machines, and at the same time, Sami activists began a hunger strike outside the Norwegian parliament.

Documents that have since been declassified, show that the government planned to use military forces as logistical support for police authorities in their efforts to stop the protests. [1]”

Given the above, it seemed the last piece of information needed was the inclusion of a political analysis upon Cold Response 2012, its potential significance, leading me to contact noted political scientist, lecturer, and author Michael Parenti. As to Dr. Parenti’s opinion of events: “As they’re doing in Central America and other places, that [Cold Response 2012] might be a scenario to do the same thing up there in the Northern region, which is to wipe out the Indigenous Peoples, remove them as was done here in the lower 48 states.” Parenti’s opinion was that there are those that view indigenous people as “just a nuisance,” these same folks feeling that “they [the indigenous] can be brushed aside, like gnats.”

He observed that the war games “are a rehearsal for a certain kind of reality.”
(full long text inclusive hyperlinks).

Links:

the Arctic Council:

  • on en.wikipedia … is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. It has eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
  • on it’s website;

Wikipedia outraged: French intelligence orders to remove ‘classified’ content, on Russia Today RT, April 7, 2013;

Wiki pot smoking page blacklisted in Russia, on Russia Today RT, April 05, 2013.

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