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The United States and the making of an Arctic nation

  • Annika E. Nilsson (a1)

The United States has sometimes been called a reluctant Arctic actor, but during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2015–2017) the US engaged as an active proponent of Arctic cooperation, using the region as a showcase for strong global climate policy. This paper places US Arctic policy development during the Obama presidency within a longer time perspective, with a focus on how US interests towards the region have been formulated in policies and policy statements. The paper uses frame analysis to identify overarching discourses and discusses the extent to which certain themes and political logics recur or shift over time. It highlights economic development and national competitiveness as a prominent recurring frame, but also that the policy discourse has moved from nation-building and military security towards a broader security perspective, with attention to energy supply for the US, and more recently also to the implications of climate change. Over time, there is a clear shift from reluctance towards Arctic regional cooperation to embracing it. Moreover, it highlights how different stands in relation to climate change have affected Arctic cooperation in the past and may do so again in the future.

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