New legislation introduced in the United States Senate would expand America’s attention to the strategically important Arctic region to our north.
The proposed law would establish a new Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs, “it’s high time that we have such representation,” according to Sherri Goodman, a former United States Deputy Undersecretary for Defense.
“We absolutely need to up our game,” she added, “for American leadership in the region.” The proposed new assistant secretary would expand Washington’s ties to other nations with Arctic Ocean shorelines. Alaska is now the only US state bordering the strategically vital waterway.
A new Arctic assistant secretary would:
—Recommend ways to create a new and vital United States diplomatic presence in a region where other major powers such as Russia and China have a growing presence.
—Allow Arctic policies and issues to be more front and center for United States policymakers and help advance these.
As Dr. Kelly McFarland, director of programs
and research at Georgetown University put it: the new assistant secretary would also “build out a bureau to allow Arctic policies and issues to be more prominent for policymakers to think about, and I think that’s a good thing.”
“Creating this new position,” Dr. McFarland added, “would also signal other prominent recent moves to support the bureau. Among them:
—President Biden’s recently-revived Arctic Executive Committee.
—The President’s appointment this year of several new commissioners to that committee.
A legendary past
In the 19th century A.D., according to a brief history of Iceland’s International Literary Festival held each September, there are quotes of travelers “captivated by a romanticism and poetry that returned in full force to the elf-swept lands.”
“The tradition in this period developed from translations of old Icelandic poems before it. These used alliteration, steadfast rhythm, and a coherent length of line and stanza:
‘We have traveled far across the land: marshes, deserts, lava, sand, glaciers, rivers, mountains steep, cliffs and chasms deep, a comfortable journey from start to end.’
Eloquent testimony, indeed, testing the curiosity of warmly clothed 21st-century travelers to the northernmost reaches on Planet Earth.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More