“All I know is, there is water where it didn’t used to be”

by twit

Which is apparently why the United States is losing a very Cold War…

From the International Herald Tribune on August 18, 2008:

Admiral Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard, who toured Alaska’s Arctic shores two weeks ago with the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, said that whatever mix of natural and human factors is causing the ice retreats, the Arctic is clearly opening to commerce – and potential conflict and hazards – like never before.

“All I know is, there is water where it didn’t used to be, and I’m responsible for dealing with that,” Allen said. Given the 8 or 10 years it would take to build even one icebreaker, he added, “I think we’re at a crisis point on making a decision.”

Really? A crisis point in the Arctic? However could this have happened?

As early as 2001, the navy issued reports saying that it had limited ability to operate ships and planes reliably in the Arctic. But with two costly wars under way, the region has remained an icy backwater and a low priority, with navy budgets for polar analysis declining.

oh. So what does this mean?

A growing array of American military leaders, Arctic experts and lawmakers say the United States is losing its ability to patrol and safeguard Arctic waters […]

In the meantime, a resurgent Russia has been busy expanding its fleet of large oceangoing icebreakers to about 14. It launched a large conventional icebreaker in May and, last year, the world’s largest icebreaker, named 50 Years of Victory, the newest of its seven nuclear-powered, pole-hardy ships.

wow. That’s impressive. But we must have at least twice the size of an Arctic fleet, right?

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Coast Guard and others have warned over the last several years that the United States’ two 30-year-old heavy icebreakers, the Polar Sea and Polar Star, and one smaller ice-breaking ship devoted mainly to science, the Healy, are grossly inadequate. Also, the Polar Star is out of service.

One working ice-breaker? and one smaller ice-breaker ‘devoted mainly to science’?

And this spring, the leaders of the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, Northern Command and Transportation Command strongly recommended in a letter that the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorse a fresh push by the Coast Guard to increase the United States’ ability to gain access to and control its Arctic waters.

But surely we shouldn’t so be worried about Russia becoming dominant in the polar regions of the globe. Such an unambitious country, so unlikely to push the territorial integrity of the United States…

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday ruled out accelerating Georgia’s admission to NATO in response to the Russian invasion.

But she warned Moscow that it is playing “a very dangerous game” by resuming Cold War-era strategic bomber patrols close to the Alaskan coast.

via McClatchy on August 18, 2008.


3 Responses to “All I know is, there is water where it didn’t used to be”

  1. lestro says:

    Ok, let them patrol their borders with their “turboprop-powered Cold War relics,” that’s fine, but this shit just doesn’t fly with me:

    Russian bombers also have made forays into neutral airspace near Norway and over U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

    uh-uh. shoot the fuckers down.
    first, i have a stealth bomber or two make an appearance over moscow. then i warn russia about us airspace. then i shoot down any fucking mig jet flying over an american air craft carrier.

    you know, just to gently remind russia that this time they are not dealing with Georgia or some other pissant little country they can bully.

  2. k@th says:

    damn straight, les.

  3. I think this quote does a nice job summarizing the diplomatic side of things, especially about how war and threats of war tend to be ineffective tools for de-escalating conflicts between nations:

    The big concern with a McCain presidency – a concern which I am surprised has not been vocalized more fully – is that the U.S. will lurch from crisis to crisis, confrontation to confrontation, whether it be with Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.

    The danger is that McCain’s pundit-like rhetoric will entrap the U.S. in descending spiral of foreign policy brinksmanship.

    Just think about the very likely scenario of McCain giving Iran/Russia a rhetorical ultimatum and Iran/Russia ignoring it. Now we are stuck – either we lose face by not following through on our threats or we follow through and go to war.

    We can’t afford such a reckless approach after the last eight years. For the next eight we need a president not a pundit.


    McCain likes war and wants to play battleships for a couple of years. His kind of rhetoric is an effective way to get there.


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