A source of controversy

It can, of course, be dangerous if any country suddenly steps up its military presence in the Arctic region, or indeed in any other part of the world. Such measures can heighten, as well as reflect, a state of underlying international mistrust, prompting other governments to feel that their own interests are being threatened and to then take countermeasures of their own that aggravate matters even more. But although Canada's interest and military presence in the Arctic is clearly fast-growing, there is no reason to suppose that it in any way heralds a looming confrontation over its natural resources. In the years ahead there will almost certainly be serious disagreements between Ottawa and other governments over the region, notably Russia, the United States and Denmark, but none is likely to be even remotely serious enough to spill over into conflict. If Canada's track record in the Arctic is anything to go by, then some of these tensions could even be concluded in a constructive way, leading to the brokerage of new agreements from which everyone ultimately benefits.

Lying behind these tensions and disagreements will not just be the future of the Arctic's natural resources but a number of other issues, some of which have been the cause of earlier disputes.

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