In the waning days of the Bush presidency while the
domestic press corps was preoccupied with the
impending inauguration of his successor, the White
House effectively sneaked through a major,
groundbreaking directive on the Arctic.
What little was reported on the matter at the time and
since - and it has been little, readers can attempt a
Bush + Arctic hunt on any major search engine - was
perfunctory and provided an innocuous gloss to a
deadly serious initiative.
The subject is the National Security Presidential
Directive 66 of January 12, 2009, the contents of
which will be detailed shortly and will be
demonstrated to contrast starkly with what scant
coverage was accorded it, such as items bearing titles
like "White House Directive Guides Policy on Arctic"
from the Washington Post and "Bush issues U.S. policy
on Arctic energy supplies" from Reuters.
National Security Presidential Directive 66 can be
read in its entirety at:
It contains as its first two points:
1. The United States has broad and fundamental
national security interests in the Arctic region and
is prepared to operate either independently or in
conjunction with other states to safeguard these
interests. These interests include such matters as
missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea
and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic
deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security
operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and
2. The United States also has fundamental homeland
And also includes the intent to "Preserve the global
mobility of United States military and civilian
vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic region" and
mandates in its fourth point that "The Senate should
act favorably on U.S. accession to the U.N. Convention
on the Law of the Sea promptly, to protect and advance
U.S. interests, including with respect to the Arctic.
Joining will serve the national security interests of
the United States, including the maritime mobility of
our Armed Forces worldwide. It will secure U.S.
sovereign rights over extensive marine areas,
including the valuable natural resources they
The Reuters dispatch alluded to above adds that "The
presidential directive represents U.S. policy on the
Arctic and carries over to the incoming Barack Obama
administration. The policy, which updates a 1994
presidential directive on the Arctic, remains in
effect until it is changed by a future president."
If next to no one Stateside paid any attention to this
development, writers on the other side of the world
understood its import precisely.
Four days later Voice of Russia ran a feature which
said, inter alia:
"In his final days in power, President George W. Bush
asserted U.S. military 'sea power' over the oil-rich
Arctic in a fresh effort to ensure permanent American
presence in the region and the deployment of missile
defense facilities there.
"According to the text of a sweeping new directive on
the Arctic released just eight days before Barack
Obama is to be sworn in, the United States declares
the territories within the Arctic Circle a zone of its
strategic interests and the new Administration is
advised to expand the US foothold in the Arctic."
On January 28-29 the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization held a meeting in the capital of Iceland
on....the Arctic, and endowed it with the
quasi-academic sounding name of Seminar on Security
Prospects in the High North.
The gathering did not include experts on climate
change, geology or energy transportation but instead
the Secretary General of NATO, its two top military
commanders and the Chairman of the Military Committee
"as well as many other
decision-makers and experts from Allied countries."
(NATO International, January 29, 2009)
The main address was by NATO's Secretary General Jaap
de Hoop Scheffer, whose observations and
recommendations include, in addition to NATO humor in
the form of a sophomoric play on words in the first
paragraph, an incontestable claim to the Alliance's
self-designated role as global military policeman in
the service of Western "energy security":
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