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01/09/2009

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It will be interesting to see exactly what this directive entails and Canada's reaction to it...

To answer Chris’s question,

I stumbled on this New York Times blog today which might answer what these directives actually are, according to the State Department the 7 directives are broadly put as: 1) National security and homeland security, 2) International governance, 3) Extended continental shelf and boundary issues, 4) Promotion of international scientific cooperation, 5) Maritime transportation, 6) Economic issues, including energy resources, and 7) Environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.

What I particularly found especially interesting is that "The new directive also takes into account changes in homeland security and defense policy that have occurred since the 1994 policy was issued. The United States has fundamental homeland security interests in preventing terrorist attacks and criminal or hostile acts in or via the Arctic region." Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone else? I have always wondered why terrorists would attack the 3rd smallest state by population or if used as an avenue to the rest of the USA would forget that mere 4,000km expanse of land known as Canada before they reach their "targets". I guess it is a trend in the State Department to use terrorism as justification for their foreign policy.

(http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/in-parting-move-bush-sets-arctic-priorities)

First, correct me if I'm wrong, but this policy update did not originate from the US department of State. This is a NSC/HS presidential directive.


"I guess it is a trend in the State Department to use terrorism as justification for their foreign policy. "

I don't see this to be as nefarious as the Canadian media has made it out to be. If we look at the text, nothing seems fundamentally new here: merely a re-affirmation of U.S. regional policy and a reiteration of the importance of the arctic. Basically someone on the National Security Council sounding off to the Obama Team(s).

Additionally, I don't think the State Department (or any Department in the National Security apparatus) needs rely heavily on the terrorist threat to justify their policies there. In fact, Canada and other multilateral institutions make references to terrorists in the north, but that doesn't mean their arctic policy is based on this nebulous threat.

I think the reason the U.S. is so keen to highlight this particular aspect is that first, as I already said, they want to make sure the Obama team is quite cognizant of the importance of the arctic. Secondly, they want to make sure that all department, national security agencies, military branches, intelligence agencies, and have an opportunity to get some of the new funding and attention earmarked for the arctic. Hence, it is no surprise that this document was a presidential directive sent to all interested departments and agencies, rather than another NSC document, forwarded only to State, Defence, National Security, CIA, and so on.

The Canadian government would be wise not to make a fuss over this.

Just to clarify the source, the original directive came as a National/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2009/01/20090112-3.html) and the terrorism quote I quoted above is from a State Department statement on the matter(http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/01/113934.htm).

Here is the link to the directive itself incase anyone is interested

http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/nspd-66.htm

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