In Support of the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2019

Back in June of 2019, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R.3493, also known as the “United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2019,” or …USALAA? He also introduced the same bill in March of 2017, March of 2015, and April of 2014. The bills themselves have gained little traction beyond getting referred to their appropriate committees, but Congressman Sensenbrenner’s commitment to Arctic security does not go unnoticed. 

The United States is likely the only Arctic country that lacks adequate, cross-agency representation in the High North. As an example, Canada, for the first time in its history, has a “Minister of Northern Affairs,” MP Dan Vandel, who works within PM Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to ensure the needs of the Canadian Arctic are being met. (They also have very helpful Twitter accounts in English and French that articulate Canada’s international Arctic policy.)

The U.S. must take diplomatic action to strengthen our role and maintain stability in the Arcitc

Congressman Sesenbrenner is looking to change that. In his press release announcing H.R.3493, he said: “At a time when Russia and China are expanding their ambitions and influence throughout the Arctic Circle, the U.S. must take diplomatic action to strengthen our role and maintain stability in this strategic region of the world. By assigning a permanent Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs, America can provide a check to these adversarial powers. I applaud Secretary of State Pompeo for acknowledging the importance of the region and urge my colleagues to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

The United States needs a renewed commitment to the security of not only our own territory in the Arctic, but also of broader international security initiatives in tandem with our Northern allies. We believe that H.R.3493 is a step in the right direction, and encourage congressional leadership to take decisive action on this bill. 


The American Abdication of Arctic Policy

The United States is often forgotten as an Arctic nation, due not only to the remoteness of the American Arctic, but also the dereliction of a coherent and consistent foreign policy in the region. The only steady action from administration to administration has been neglect. 

The United States is an Arctic nation, but a small one

America is unlike most other northern powers in many ways, namely that an infinitesimally small portion of the American population (19,000 people, or 0.00006%) lives within the Arctic Circle, and we do not rely on the northernmost parts of our nation for a vast amount of resources like oil the way other countries (mainly Russia) do. 

However, that does not excuse or rationalize the lack of well-planned policy in one of the last uncharted and unexplored regions on Earth. The United States exists, in part, due to its never-ending quest to explore and discover the harshest and most-uncharted places known to man. It is distinctly un-American to abandon that in favor of a sedentary and unimaginative Arctic policy. 

America was built on the idea of exploration and a better future

This is not to blame those who have been working on this policy for years — There are a great number of scientists, researchers, and foreign policy experts that work diligently every day to secure a better future for Arctic-Americans, and all Arctic citizens. It is a much larger indictment of the appointee-class in Washington who refuse to dream big, or to listen to their own experts, to craft an intelligible policy in the High North.

The future of the Arctic rests on imaginative, restorative, and forward-thinking policy; executed in-tandem with dependable relationships alongside our Arctic partners. America, as a country, was founded on idealistic and visionary ideals — We would be remiss not to advocate for the implication of those same principles in the North.