Land, ho?

Earlier, Kim posted about Russia deciding to annex a portion of the North Pole. The article she cited was both fascinating and ominous, as numerous commenters also noted, but I have to say that I am not in the least concerned about Russia and land-grabbing at the North Pole.

Why not, you might ask?


Unlike the South Pole, there is no dry land under the arctic ice. It’s one giant, humongous, ice cube floating around the top of the globe. Under the ice is ocean, and below that is sea bed. Yeah, technically it’s still “land,” but it isn’t dry land.

So if Al Gore’s worst nightmares come true and the polar ice caps melt, there will be no new continent ready for colonizing, no natural resources exposed to exploit.

I’m trying to figure out just what was behind Putin’s move to annex the North Pole. Back during the Cold War, it might have made a certain strategic sense, as the United States sent its nuclear missile submarines up there to keep them on their toes. Also, it was the prime route for our bombers in case we ever did have reason to attack them. If they could establish their borders that much farther north, our ability to train and threaten would have been diminished.

But those days are largely over. We simply don’t have the ready assets to make such moves. A large of our nuclear arsenal has been dismantled, and the rest is nowhere near as ready to use as in the bad old days.

The only thing that makes sense is that it’s an ego play. Putin did it for domestic consumption, to remind people of the halcyon days of the Soviet empire, when the world trembled at their every move.

Regardless, it should not be passively accepted. As noted in Kim’s article, there are long-established treaties that all nations keep their grubby hands off the polar regions (and, for that matter, the Moon). They are held in trust for all nations and all peoples, and the last thing we need is another colonial rush era.

Although the cynic in me does find a certain appeal in the notion of a fictional-land rush, and hope that the US puts in pre-emptive claims on Shangri-La, Neverland, and Qo’noS.

Update: I really need to read more carefully first thing in the morning. There are, as both the original article and Kim’s piece clearly stated, sound strategic reasons for Russia to make this move. I got too wrapped up in the “surreal estate” angle and had way, way too much fun with it. Also, it led to Robert The Original’s brilliant channeling of Jay Ward.

Oh, and Lee? Thanks, but no thanks. I tried e-mailing with you, and it went nowhere. I got sick of dealing with Civilized Lee in e-mail and Typical Lee in public. These days, I wouldn’t piss on you if your head was on fire.

Law & Order
Russia's Land Grab