Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The United States and the making of an Arctic nation

  • Annika E. Nilsson (a1)
Abstract

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.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The United States and the making of an Arctic nation
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The United States and the making of an Arctic nation
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The United States and the making of an Arctic nation
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
Hide All
Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. (2015). Final report of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. Alaska Arctic Policy Commission.
Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. (n.d.). Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.akarctic.com/about-the-commission/
Archer, C., & Scrivener, D. (2000). International co-operation in the Arctic environment. In Nuttall, M. & Callaghan, T.V. (Eds.), The Arctic: environment, people, policy (pp. 601619). Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.
Arctic Council. (2017a). Agreement on enhancing international Arctic scientific cooperation. Retrieved from https://oaarchive.arctic-council.org/handle/11374/1916
Arctic Council. (2017b). Fairbanks Declaration 2017: on the occasion of the tenth ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/e/oes/rls/other/2017/270802.htm
Arnaudo, R. V. (2013). United States policy in the Arctic. In Berkman, P. A. & Vylegzhanin, A. N. (Eds.), Environmental security in the Arctic Ocean (pp. 8191). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4713-5_9
Balton, D. (2017). David Balton speech at Arctic Frontiers, Tromsø Norway 25 January 2017. Arctic Frontiers. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWx2yzWm77Y
Barnett, J. K. (2013). Alaskan history - in brief. Anchorage, AL: Todd Communications.
Bird, K. J., Charpentier, R. R., Gautier, D. L., Houseknecht, D. W., Klett, T. R., Pitman, J. K., . . . Wandrey, C. J. (2008). Circum-Arctic resource appraisal: estimates of undiscovered oil and gas north of the Arctic circle. US Geological Survey fact sheet 2008–3049. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3049/fs2008-3049.pdf
Björnehed, E., & Erikson, J. (2018). Making the most of the frame: developing the analytical potential of frame analysis. Policy Studies, 39 (2), 109126. doi: 10.1080/01442872.2018.1434874
Bloom, E. (1999). Establishment of the Arctic Council. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/arc/ac/establishmentarcticcouncil/index.htm.
Borgerson, S. G. (2008). Arctic meltdown. Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008.
Buurman, T., & Christensen, M. (2017). Governance and the changing Arctic: news framings in U.S. newspapers from 2007 to 2015. Presented at the Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE), Leicester, 28 June–3 July, Leicester, UK.
Buzan, B., Wæver, O., & Wilde, J. D. (1998). Security: A new framework for analysis. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Canada–United States: Agreement on Arctic cooperation and exchange of notes concerning transit of Northwest Passage. (1989). International Legal Materials, 28 (1), 141145.
Christensen, M. (2013). Arctic climate change and the media: The news story that was. In Christensen, M., Nilsson, A. E., & Wormbs, N. (Eds.), Media and the politics of Arctic climate change. When the ice breaks (pp. 2651). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Christensen, M., Nilsson, A. E., & Wormbs, N. (Eds.). (2013). Media and the politics of Arctic climate change. When the ice breaks. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cohen, A. (2010, June 15). From Russian competition to natural resources access: Recasting U.S. Arctic policy. Washington DC: Heritage Foundation. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from /europe/report/russian-competition-natural-resources-access-recasting-us-arctic-policy
Cole, T., & Cravez, P. (2004). Blinded by riches: The permanent funding problem and the Prudhoe Bay effect (No. UA Research Summary No. 3). Anchorage, AL: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage.
Conley, H. (2013). The new foreign policy frontier. U.S. interests and actors in the Arctic. Washington D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Retrieved from https://www.csis.org/analysis/new-foreign-policy-frontier
Cornell, S., Downing, A., & Clark, D. (2016). Multiple Arctics: Resilience in a region of diversity and dynamism. In Carson, M. & Peterson, G. (Eds.), Arctic resilience report (pp. 2761). Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Doel, R. E. (2003). Constituting the postwar earth sciences: The military's influence on the environmental sciences in the USA after 1945. Social Studies of Science, 33 (5), 635666.
Emmerson, C. (2010). The future history of the Arctic. London: Bodley Head.
Ervin, A. M. (1976). The emergence of native Alaskan political capacity, 1959–1971. Musk Ox Journal, 19. Retrieved from http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ancsa/ARTICLES/ervin1976/Ervin_MuskOx.htm
Friedheim, R. L. (1986). The U.S.–Canada Arctic Policy Forum: Impressions from the American Co-Chair. ARCTIC, 39 (4), 360367.
Heymann, M., Knudsen, H., Lolck, M. L., Nielsen, K. H., & Ries, C. J. (2017). Exploring Greenland: science and technology in Cold War settings. Scientia Canadensis: Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, 33 (2), 1142.
Hickok, D. M., Weller, G., Davis, T. N., Alexander, V., & Elsner, R. (1983). United States Arctic Science Policy. Alaska Council of Science and Technology.
Hoag, H. (2017). Nations agree to ban fishing in Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years. Science. https://doi.org/doi:10.1126/science.aar6437
Huebert, R. (2009). United States Arctic policy: The reluctant Arctic power. University of Calgary. School of Public Policy. Retrieved from http://www.policyschool.ca/publications/united-states-arctic-policy-reluctant-arctic-power/
Kankaanpää, P., & Young, O. R. (2012). The effectiveness of the Arctic Council. Polar Research, 31 (0), 17176. doi: 10.3402/polar.v31i0.17176
Keskitalo, E. C. H. (2004). Negotiating the Arctic: The construction of an international region (1st ed.). London: Routledge.
Martinson, E. (2016a, June 10). Now trending in DC: Arctic issues. Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://adn-pb.internal.arc2.nile.works/pb/arctic/2016/06/10/now-trending-in-dc-arctic-issues/
Martinson, E. (2016b, December 20). Obama prohibits drilling in most US Arctic waters. Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved from https://www.adn.com/politics/2016/12/20/obama-prohibits-offshore-drilling-in-most-of-us-arctic-waters/
Martinson, E. (2017, April 28). Trump pushes to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic. Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved from https://www.adn.com/politics/2017/04/28/trump-reversing-obama-pushes-to-expand-drilling-in-arctic-waters/
May, P. J., Jones, B. D., Beem, B. E., Neff-Sharum, E. A., & Poague, M. K. (2005). Policy coherence and component-driven policymaking: Arctic policy in Canada and the United States. Policy Studies Journal, 33 (1), 3763. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.2005.00091.x
Myers, S. L. (2011, May 12). 8 Arctic nations pledge cooperation. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/world/europe/13arctic.html
National Security Presidential Directive-66 on Arctic Region Policy (2009). Retrieved from https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/nspd-66.htm
Nilsson, A. E. (2007). A changing Arctic climate. Science and policy in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Department of Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University, Sweden.
Nilsson, A. E. (2012). The Arctic environment - from low to high politics. In Arctic Yearbook 2012. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum. Retrieved from http://www.arcticyearbook.com/images/Articles_2012/Nilsson.pdf
Nilsson, A. E., & Koivurova, T. (2016). Transformational change and regime shifts in the circumpolar Arctic. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 7 (2), 179195. doi: 10.17585/arctic.v7.532
Nisbet, M. C. (2009). Communicating climate change: Why frames matter for public engagement. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 51 (2), 1223. doi: 10.3200/ENVT.51.2.12-23
Nord, D. C. (2007). Searching for the North in North American foreign policies: Canada and the United States. American Review of Canadian Studies, 37 (2), 207217. doi: 10.1080/02722010709481855
Nussbaum, A. (2017, December 20). Arctic refuge just the start of Trump's move to unlock Alaska oil. Bloomberg.com. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-20/arctic-refuge-just-the-start-as-trump-moves-to-unlock-alaska-oil
Østhagen, A. (2011, December 12). The United States as an Arctic actor. The Arctic Institute. Center for Circumpolar Security Studies. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://www.thearcticinstitute.org/united-states-as-arctic-actor/
Pincus, R., & Ali, S. H. (2016). Have you been to ‘The Arctic’? Frame theory and the role of media coverage in shaping Arctic discourse. Polar Geography, 39 (2), 8397. doi: 10.1080/1088937X.2016.1184722
Rogne, O., Rachold, V., Hacquebord, L., & Corell, R. (Eds.). (2015). IASC 25 years. Retrieved from https://view.joomag.com/iasc-25-years/0102946001421148178
Rosen, Y. (2017, May 30). Trump administration sought last-minute changes to soften Arctic Council climate-change commitment. Arctic Now. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://www.arcticnow.com/pb/politics-policy/2017/05/30/trump-administration-sought-last-minute-changes-to-soften-arctic-council-climate-change-commitment/
Seward, W. H. (1869). Alaska, speech of William H. Seward at Sitka, August 12, 1869 [microform]. Washington: Philip & Solomons. Retrieved from http://archive.org/details/cihm_16134
Shadian, J. M. (2014). The politics of Arctic sovereignty. Oil, ice and Inuit governance. London and New York: Routledge.
Stachowiak, S. (2013). Pathways for change. 6 theories of how policy change happens. Organizational Research Services. Retrieved from https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/316071/Resources/Article/Pathways%20for%20change%206%20theories%20about%20how%20policy%20change%20happens.pdf
Storholm, L. (2017, February 1). Does not think the USA will change its Arctic policy. High North News. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.highnorthnews.com/does-not-think-the-usa-will-change-its-arctic-policy/
Tennberg, M. (1998). Arctic environmental cooperation: A study in governmentality. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Company.
The Ilulissat Declaration. (2008). (Declaration). Ilulissat, Greenland. Retrieved from oceanlaw.org
The White House President Barack Obama. (2015a, January 21). Executive Order — Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/21/executive-order-enhancing-coordination-national-efforts-arctic
The White House President Barack Obama. (2015b, August 13). Ambassador Mark Brzezinski Appointed Executive Director of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2015/08/13/ambassador-mark-brzezinski-appointed-executive-officer-arctic-executive-steering
The White House President Barack Obama. (2016, December 9). Executive Order – Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/09/executive-order-northern-bering-sea-climate-resilience
The White House President Donald Trump. (2017, May 3). Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. Executive Order 13795. Retrieved from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/03/2017-09087/implementing-an-america-first-offshore-energy-strategy
United States. (1983). National Security Decision Directive (1983) U.S. Arctic Policy. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsdd/nsdd-090.htm.
United States. Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (amended 1990), Pub. L. No. PUBLIC LAW 98-373-July 31, 1984; amended as PUBLIC LAW 101-609-November 16, 1990 (1984). Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/arctic/iarpc/arc_res_pol_act.jsp
United States. (1994). United States Policy on the Arctic and Antarctic region. Presidential decision directive NSC-26, June 9, 1994. Retrieved from https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/pdd/pdd-26.pdf
United States and Canada. (2016, March 10). U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climate-energy-and-arctic-leadership
United States Arctic policy group. (1971). National Security Decision Memorandum 144. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsdm-nixon/nsdm-144.pdf
United States Department of Defense. (2013, November). Arctic Strategy.
United States Federal Government. (2013, May 10). The National Strategy for the Arctic Region. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2013/05/10/national-strategy-arctic-region-announced
U.S. Department of State. (2017). Remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State at the Fairbanks Ministerial meeting. Retrieved from https://oaarchive.arctic-council.org/handle/11374/2017
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transport. (2004, March 3). Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2004/3/
van Hulst, M., & Yanow, D. (2016). From policy “frames” to “framing”: Theorizing a more dynamic, political approach. The American Review of Public Administration, 46 (1), 92112. doi: 10.1177/0275074014533142
Wilson Rowe, E. (2013). A dangerous space? Unpacking state and media discourses on the Arctic. Polar Geography, 36 (3), 232244. doi: 10.1080/1088937X.2012.724461
Young, O. R. (1985). The age of the Arctic. Foreign Policy, 61, 160179.
Young, O. R. (1998). Creating regimes: Arctic accords and international governance. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Young, O. R., & Einarsson, N. (2004). Introduction. In Arctic Human Development Report (pp. 1526). Akureyri, Iceland: Stefansson Arctic Institute.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed