Saturday, November 10, 2007

Seward's Folly

William Seward was Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. Seward proposed and led the U.S. effort to buy Alaska from Russia who sought to keep it out of the hands of Great Britain. These negotiations actually began during the administration of James Buchanan but were delayed due to the American Civil War.

There were questions about the purchase, especially the resources and the ability to populate the territory. The ratification vote was close and decided by only one vote. The value of the land was not really understood until the late 1890s when gold was found in the Klondike.

Consider the value of Alaska today. Oil has followed gold as an important resource, and the state is priceless in terms of value. What might be priceless in 2030 are underground seabed claims and unclaimed islands.

Claiming Arctic (and Antarctic lands) now may seem a far-off dream but these lands will grow in value over time. Like Seward’s Folly U.S. diplomatic effort should have a substantial focus on claiming Arctic areas as part of U.S. territorial integrity.

There are plenty of issues of concern to U.S. national interest. How many of them concern the territorial integrity of the county? There are five issues of concern to the United States.

a. Navigation rights: Are the Northwest and Northeast Passages (through Canada and Russia) international waters.

b. Offshore claims: What are the limits fo Alaska’s sea bed?

c. Island claims: Which bodies of territory are unclaimed?

d. Migration and Trans-migration: Many people will enter the U.S. in order to migrate even further north. This could be problematic for issues if crime and terrorism.

1 comment:

nicola said...

This year the Telders Moot Court case was related to the object of this post, if you deem it relevant (http://www.grotiuscentre.org/com/doc.asp?DocID=346)