The Russians placing a flag on the bottom at the north pole is not the big deal; the real battle for the resources of the north may well be between the United States and Canada. Mackenzie Funk writes a long and thoughtful article about oil in the Arctic in the September issue of Harpers Magazine.
Most think there is not going to be much of a fight; Canadians are a practical people that roll over pretty consistently in the face of American interests. (not joining the "coalition of the willing" was a rare exception.) Because of NAFTA Canadians can't decide to keep our oil for ourselves, but are obligated to sell as much as America wants. Canada is the biggest supplier of oil and pipes in 85% of natural gas burned in the States. Yet Americans just don't think that much about Canada and Canadians don't give it much reason to; Funk quotes a contest to find Canada's version of the expression "As American as apple pie"- the winner was "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances".But there is concern. While some support greater integration with the States, thinking Canada will become the next California, others say America would never give Canadians the vote- "they don't want thirty million more Democrats."
Funk travels with the Canadian Forces to temporary bases on the Northwest Passage and learns about Canadian attitudes and concerns, and American worries about the rights of free passage through international waters. The Canadians are sanguine about what they could do; one soldier says "the Americans, jeez, I can't count how many ships they have. They have 60,000 people working in Norfolk alone. That's as many as we have in our entire armed forces."
So what will happen? Who knows. But there is estimated to be 175 billion barrels of oil and gas up there under that melting ice, and something will. Not online at ::Harpers