Between Security and Sovereignty: Denmark’s Arctic Conundrum Amidst Trump’s New Cold War

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109073615
Title: Between Security and Sovereignty: Denmark’s Arctic Conundrum Amidst Trump’s New Cold War
Author: Sigrist, Jonathan
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109073615
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/334047
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Euroopan ja pohjoismaiden tutkimuksen maisteriohjelma (European and Nordic Studies)
Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Magisterprogrammet i Europa- och Nordenstudier
Specialisation: Social Sciences Study Track
Social Sciences Study Track
Social Sciences Study Track
Abstract: This thesis analyses the development of Danish foreign and security policy towards the Arctic ever since the end of the Second World War up until today. It draws primarily on Denmark’s relation to the United States, having been Denmark’s main ally for the last 75 years on all security related matters - but especially since the end of the Cold War. Both Denmark and the US are considered Arctic coastal states, with Denmark accessing the Arctic ocean through its sovereign claim over Greenland, and the US through the state of Alaska. The thesis supports other scholarly studies that argue that a ‘new Cold War’ has been taking place in the years following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016 between the US, China and Russia, with potentially grave ramifications for Arctic regional security, given its growing importance as a region for resource extraction and commercial passage through the Northern Sea Route. For Denmark, this new Cold War threatens its sovereign claim over Greenland – a crucial geostrategic location for a potential Arctic militarization - being challenged as a small nation by the great power competitions accelerating in the Arctic. The thesis divides the last 75 years into three categorized eras: 1) The Cold War (1945-1991); 2) The post-Cold War era (1991-2017); 3) The ‘new Cold War’ as a developing era (2017 - ; denoted in the thesis), and analyses for each era the fundamentals of Denmark – US relations, first providing a more general overview of their political relations as security partners on non-Arctic related matters, in order to then draw parallels to the development of Denmark – US relations in the Arctic and their roles as state actors in shaping the geopolitical climate of the region. As I show, a lot can be learned from the Cold War to understand what is and may happen in the Arctic in the new Cold War. The thesis makes use of foreign policy analysis, as well as two variations of discourse analysis – poststructuralist discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis – as tools to engage with the empirical data available and answer the thesis’s main research questions: what is the perceived effect of the Trump administration's policy to the position of Denmark in the Arctic? The question is answered on the basis of two main theoretical frameworks: Securitization Theory and Region-Building Theory. These frameworks build the necessary foundation which along with the mentioned methodologies can provide a holistic overview and perspective on the matter with scientific validity. The thesis ends by discussing what can be expected in the near future, based on the knowledge acquired and the answers provided to the research question. A new administration led by president elect Joe Biden took over the White House on January 20st, and with it many new questions are yet to be answered, regarding the future of Denmark – US relations, the future of Arctic governance and the course of the new Cold War. I ponder on what options Denmark might have that could guarantee its security while also maintaining its sovereignty over Greenland – one option being a potential turn towards the EU as its new main security partner. Yet doing so would mean breaking a long-lasting relationship with the US while standing up to the world’s biggest economic and military superpower.
Subject: Arctic
Denmark
United States
Cold War
Securitization
Militarization
Region-Building
China
Russia
NATO


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