Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

What can you protect for two billion bucks?

$2 billion. It’s a familiar figure to anyone who was aware, and critical, of the G8/G20 summit security costs in Toronto.

Now, an equivalent mound of moola is considered more than adequate, and indeed excessive, regarding the entire security bill for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

The Russian authorities haven’t revealed how much they are spending on Olympic security: the figure is a state secret.

Some reports in the Russia media have suggested the total cost will be around $2bn, although Vice Premier Dmitry Kozak says that figure is inflated.

So, the Russians consider $2 billion “inflated” when talking about securing, for two full weeks, the world’s largest multisport cavalcade, right on the Abkhazian border, in the heart of the restive Caucasus. Whilst, last year, Ottawa considered $2 billion a reasonable cost for a three-day summit on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Which is worse: that Canada is more afraid of its university students than Russia is of its Chechen suicide bombers? Or that Team Harper considers itself a sober steward of our precious tax dollars? I’m awash in a swirling double-helix of nausea.

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Twiddling in the Arctic

Norway and Russia have resolved an Arctic maritime border dispute through negotiation, while Canada buys multi-billion dollar stealth fighter jets. Which do you think is the more effective route to asserting Arctic sovereignty?

So, much to Harper’s chagrin, racing around on an ATV in Tuktoyaktuk and getting your photo taken atop a submarine is not enough to assert Arctic sovereignty. Nor are multi-billion dollar stealth jet fighters that are primarily designed to blow up bridges and villages.

Unfortunately for Harper, negotiating a settlement is how these things work. You can’t prorogue it away, you can’t lie about it or spin it off the front pages. You can’t just tell the process that “you think you make the rules.” You just have to bite your lip, go into that negotiating room, and work.

Not that the discourse of Arctic territorialism is something I’m very happy with. There is of course a dark irony in seeking to exploit the effects of climate change to drill for even more oil and create a freeway system of cargo boats to churn through one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas.

I have a quaint (but still passionate!) plan for the Arctic myself, though this falls in the category of ultranaive internationalism. So. Everything north of 75 degrees ought to fall under the authority of an international Arctic Treaty system – something not as far-reaching as the Antarctic Treaty, but nevertheless a treaty regime that would forbid all military activity, resource exploitation, and shipping, forever and ever.

Of course this would have implications for Santa Claus, but it’s for the greater good.

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