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THE CULTURE AND CONFLICT REVIEW Click for an RSS Feed for the Latest Articles

Issue: Vol 5, #2 - Earth Day 2011 Special Issue

The Culture & Conflict Review is an online peer-review journal produced by the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies, bringing you analysis of current events, policy, operations, and human terrain in South and Central Asia as well as other regions of the world. Premised on the belief that the United States must understand the culture and human terrain of other nations and peoples, we offer commentary and analysis on issues of current interest to policy makers, military commanders, academics, and the general public. We are particularly interested in issues addressing culture, anthropology, regional and identity politics, and the contemporary role of U.S. forces in areas of conflict. New issues of The Culture & Conflict Review are published on a quarterly basis.

Welcome to The Culture & Conflict Review

Welcome to the our special Earth Day edition of The Culture & Conflict Review, a special joint publication with our newest journal: The Climate & Conflict Review. We are pleased to present you with an engaging selection of new articles on a timely and important topic.

Published for Earth Day 2011, this premier edition of the The Climate & Conflict Review explores the intersection of climate and conflict, and considers the impacts of climate change on international security – with special attention to the defense and security challenges of the polar region, and both national and international responses to these challenges.

We also are pleased to present a selection of new student theses addressing issues related to climate security and Arctic climate change.

I. Feature Articles

The strategic ‘landscape’ of the Arctic region is rapidly changing as a result of the Earth’s changing climate. Global warming is causing the Arctic icecap to retreat at an alarming rate. While the retreating icecap may be a sign of man’s impact on the environment, it also brings with it the promise of new opportunities. The vast, untapped potential of the Arctic is producing keen international competition in the Arctic. This international competition is a cause for major concern, especially considering the lack of preparedness of the United States military for operations in the Arctic. The United States is significantly lagging behind Russia and all of the other Arctic nations in Arctic capabilities, preparedness, and strategy. In order to meet the emerging challenges in the Arctic, the United States must reevaluate its Arctic strategy and defense organization, while seeking to improve its Arctic capabilities. The author examines the current United States defense structure and military capability shortfalls in the Arctic. The paper concludes with recommendations to address the various challenges faced by the United States in the Arctic. [...]
The earth is changing our nation’s security landscape and we need to adapt. Climate change, independent of responsibility and cause, is a large part of this change. When such a large change occurs with such a global impact, the rules change the game. This new game requires that we in the United States re-think how we adapt to this change. How should the United States address the threats to our national security presented to us by this new frontier? The U.S. Combatant Commanders (COCOM) currently responsible for this Area of Operational Responsibility (AOR) include U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). Each of their advantages to assuming full responsibility of the Arctic Region is discussed. This responsibility, however, does not come without costs. A recommendation is made as to which COCOM or COCOMs should assume full responsibility of the region. [...]
An ice-free Northwest Passage in the summer of 2007 signaled the next chapter in North American continental defense and security. Long protected by a formidable, icy environment along the high northern approach, the effects of climate change opening an Arctic maritime domain require U.S. and Canadian leadership to re-evaluate theater command and control to mitigate the growing space- force imbalance. Shared interests, limited resources, and a strong history of bi-lateral security cooperation provide the foundation for establishing a combined Canadian-U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force Arctic (CJIATF-A) to meet new national strategic objectives in the Arctic. This paper argues that a combined Joint Interagency Task Force Arctic (CJIATF- A) under NORAD with alternating leadership, will best enable a COCOM to address the complexities of the changing Arctic region to promote responsible growth, regional stability, and continental security. [...]

II. Book Reviews & Excerpts

A review of Dan Smith’s and Janani Vivekananda’s Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility: Understanding the linkages, shaping effective responses. Dan Smith and Janani Vivekananda examine climate change, risk, and adaptation with an advocate’s passion for change. Their report reveals the consequences of continued inaction but holds out hope for opportunities to enable affected countries to adapt to the consequences of climate driven change. These opportunities can provide for positive spillover between climate adaptation, development initiatives, and conflict management. But, they require an unvarnished assessment of policy options in a complex and dynamic environment. [...]
That so many parties are caught up in a polar land grab attests to the reality and importance of climate-driven changes in the Arctic. Some may still deny that global warming is upon us, but they're certainly not among those who are now maneuvering to cash in on it. The whole situation seems rather unfair, though. Most of the nations that are slated to reap the greatest rewards from this New North are already among the world's wealthiest, and they're also among the carbon-emitters who are most responsible for these changes to begin with. Between a tenth and a third of the world’s untapped oil reserves are thought to lie in the Arctic, particularly on the broad, shallow continental shelves. Reliable open water routes such as the once-fabled Northwest Passage will make those resources more accessible and profitable. They will also increase the risk of oil spills, which could be horrendously difficult to clean up if the black goo slips beyond reach under what remains of the floating ice. The new fossil fuel bonanza could also drive the sum of our greenhouse gas emissions even higher than it already is, but convincing people to shut those wells down in order to stop the climatic changes that bring them so much wealth will be difficult. [...]

III. Arctic Theses

We are also pleased to share with you the following student theses examining Arctic security and climate issues:

Climate change in the Arctic is affecting the ice melt more rapidly than previously anticipated and the Arctic is now forecast to be ice-free by 2013. International borders, fossil fuel reservoirs and new sea routes for navigation are just a few of the issues at stake due to the receding ice cover. Contrary to those who perceive U.S.-Russian conflict arising out of the region and advocate a military response, this thesis argues that the Arctic, precisely because of its rich hydrocarbon resources, may prove to be amenable to a capitalist peace. Russia’s need of foreign assistance in its hydrocarbon sector will make Russia more pacific, thereby offsetting realist fears of a military conflict in the Arctic. [...]
The Labrador Sea is one of the only known locations of deep open ocean convection, a process determined to play a significant role in regulating global thermohaline circulation and climate. Changing ice conditions revealed the Northwest Passage was a possible shipping route in three summers. The main hypothesis of this study is that low salinity water from the Arctic Ocean, particularly outflow through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA), may affect Labrador Sea deep convection. Freshwater flux anomalies entering the Labrador Sea through Davis Strait do not immediately affect deep convection. Instead, eddies and sea ice acting on shorter time scales can move freshwater to locations of active convection and halt the process, which underscores the importance of high-resolution. [...]
Continued climate change and minimum ice conditions over the past several years are allowing for increased maritime activity in the Arctic, which may lead to potential homeland security/defense missions. In January 2009, the U.S. government acknowledged the probability of these missions with an updated Arctic Region Policy, which highlighted the need to develop capabilities to protect U.S. air, land and sea borders, military/civilian vessels and aircraft, maritime commerce, critical infrastructure and key resources. Successfully supporting these missions will depend on a coherent understanding of all the activities taking place in the Arctic region. Achieving this level of “situational awareness” will only be possible when all equity partners and stakeholders are sharing relevant information. [...]
The operational production of skillful long-range forecasts of Arctic sea ice has the potential to be very useful when integrated into the planning of Arctic operations by the U.S. Navy and other organizations. We investigated the potential for predicting October sea ice concentration (SIC) in the Beaufort Sea at lead times of one to five months. Our results indicate a significant potential for improving long range forecasts in support of Arctic operations by the U.S. Navy and other organizations. [...]

On behalf of all of us at the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies (CCS), please enjoy our latest edition of the The Culture and Conflict Review!  If you missed our last issue, just click here and you can visit it in our archive.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, as well as submissions for consideration in future editions of the Review.

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