Conflict in Arctic more likely than not as scholars over-estimate impact of interdependence and international cooperation on resolving disputes
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Based on the methodology established for this analysis, it can be reasonably assessed that conflict in the Arctic is likely. To put this another way, with a score of 18 out of 24 possible points, there is a 75 percent chance that maritime disputes involving the United States and Russia will occur in the Arctic necessitating the show or use of force to achieve a political objective. It should be reiterated that this assessment is acknowledged to be an analytically subjective conclusion and that the intervals of measurement are notably coarse. The evidence presented in this analysis, however, supports this conclusion. Policy-makers should take care not to discount the physical indicators and declared policies of other Arctic nations when judging the seriousness of their intent to protect their various claims in the region. Advocates of a “Pax Arctica” involving regional cooperation ignore the more pragmatic factors underlying international relations and the actual limits of international institutions and economic incentives in restraining actors’ behavior in an anarchic system.
Currently, there is no major tension between the Arctic states. They all want peaceful solutions to their border disputes and see the advantages of freedom of navigation through the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. However, at the time when the coastal nations are able to increase their oil production in the Arctic, conflict can more easily occur. A shortage of energy and other resources will make the nations more determined to solve their border issues, which may increase the tension between them.