October 3, 2007

Diplomatic Restraint

As it turns out, the U.S. and Britain almost went to war in the 1850's. A few young hotheads in uniform, making undisciplined choices nearly brought the U.S. and Britain to war in the 1850's, and cool heads were in short supply. Other exigencies -- the Indian Mutiny and the American Civil War -- prevented it from happening; neither the U.S. nor Britain could afford war with one another.

Similar problems are happening today. Hans Island, a one-square-kilometer bit of barren rock, sits smack dab in the middle of the Kennedy Strait. Both Canada and Denmark (which maintains nominal sovereignty over Greenland) have laid claim to the island, and supported those claims with military expeditions and flag-posting contests in recent years. Fortunately, it seems that these two NATO allies will resolve their dispute over this potentialy-important island (it could establish navigation rights over the opening Northwest Passage) with lawyers and geographers instead of marines and warships.

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