New Arctic, New President?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The new president will spend the day attending a prayer service at the National Cathedral and later, meeting with his Joint Chiefs and economic advisers. As Barack Obama acclimates to the presidency, we’ll dip into the recent past.

Former President George Bush on Jan. 9 issued a presidential directive that refines U.S. national interests in the Arctic. The eight-page document took two years to finalize and is the first White House statement on national security and the Arctic since Bill Clinton was president, in 1994.

The directive emphasizes U.S. national security and energy interests in the area, particularly given the changing climate and the likelihood of increased human and commercial involvement in the region. The Bush administration also commended progress within the Artic Council — the body of nine nations and indigenous peoples that the outgoing president didn’t always please. Bush gave the Senate a final prod to pass the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The week after the White House released the directive, the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) met in Maryland, to hash out recommendations for the new administration. Climate change and Arctic policy topped the list. How will the National Security directive affect, inform, or influence the new administration’s approach to this rapidly changing area of the world? Only time will tell.


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