Arctic Great Game in Alaska missile deployment?
The Pentagon announced plans March 15 to add 14 missile interceptors to its anti-missile system in response to recent nuclear posturing of North Korea. The new interceptors would augment 26 already deployed at Ft. Greely, Alaska, with four others deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. But the system is plagued with technical failures. The last successful hit against a target was in December 2008; test launches have failed to hit their targets since then. The Pentagon is said to have discovered a flaw in the guidance system of the newest Raytheon-made model. (LAT, March 16; Bloomberg, March 15) The ABM Treaty, which barred anti-ballistic missile systems during the Cold War, was pronounced effectively dead in the Bush years
As with the US "missile shield" planned for Europe, there is a great deal of speculation as to who the real enemy is in the new Alaska deployment. Annie Machon, said to be a former "intelligence officer" for Britain's MI5, told Russia Today TV, ever credulous about anti-US conspiracy theories:
It's almost like North Korea is a patsy, used to put up this new missile defense in Alaska. And the key part is that there’s been this covert war to control the diminishing resources of the world, which is waged across continents — between, certainly, the US and China over the last decade. And what we're looking at now is, I think, a very careful geopolitical strategy to control and put bases in Alaska because anyone, who has Alaska can control the Arctic area. And, as the arctic area melts more quickly, more countries are going to fight for the resource-rich area as the ice recedes. America, by having these defenses in Alaska, will be very well-placed to protect its economic interest in that area.
It isn't exactly clear how missile interceptors in Alaska give the US an advantage in the scramble for Arctic resources. However, news of the deployment does come just as a change of government is reported in Greenland—apparently related to suspicions about Chinese designs on the country's subsoil resources. From The Guardian, March 15:
Voters in Greenland feared that ministers were surrendering their country's interests to China and foreign multinationals and called an end this week to the government of prime minister Kuupik Kleist.
London Mining, which has a former British foreign minister, Sir Nicholas Bonsor, on the board, has been at the centre of a row in the country after speculation it could bring in 2,000 Chinese workers to build one of the world's biggest iron ore mines expressly to serve steel mills in Beijing.
The activities of Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy, which drilled for oil off Greenland's south-west coast in 2011, had also polarised opinion between those who welcomed the potential for a hydrocarbon strike bringing huge economic wealth and those worried about spills.
The Siumut party in Greenland, led by Aleqa Hammond, has just won 42% of the vote, allowing it to form a coalition government in place of the current ruling party led by Kleist.
The election campaign was dominated by a debate over the activities of foreign investors and concerns among the 57,000 population that Greenland's future could be dictated by the demands of potentially polluting new industries such as mining and oil rather than traditional Inuit trades of fishing and hunting.
The Inuit way of life is already threatened by Greenland's recent ice loss, apparently due to climate change. We've noted before that receding sea ice has opened up the long-sought Northwest Passage, thereby allowing exploitation of far-north oil (which will accelerate the greenhouse effect, opening up yet more formerly ice-bound resources, in a particularly perverse manifestation of the genius of capitalism). Russia, another US rival, stands to reap the immediate gains.
The US has also recently sought to install anti-ballistic missiles in Greenland, sparking protests there.
We don't doubt that the Alaska missile deployment is intended in part to send a message to China—but the more immediate concern is probably (sorry) the most obvious one: pressuring Beijing to bring the ongepotchket North Korean leadership to heel.