Despite myriad treaties and international agreements in the last 100 years, the world continues to experience war and armed conflict. Insisting international institutions are effective deterrents to war is as ignorant as insisting we outlaw war. The former won’t happen and the latter can’t happen. Accepting the inevitability of conflict, strategists and policymakers must infer to contours of the strategic horizon to anticipate the next one. When looking to those regions of the world today experiencing the recipe for conflict tomorrow, our attention increasingly orients to the ends of the earth.
Once well-known Cold War theaters, the Arctic and Antarctica are resuming their places in the crosshairs of the international security discourse. The polar regions are contested commons host to competing territorial claims; tenuous covenants no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century; and increasingly valuable real estate in the race for the cosmos – or space power projection. As the recipe brews, what is the boiling point for polar conflict? More importantly, what can we do to ensure the Arctic and Antarctica remain zones of exceptionalism hosting strategic cooperation rather than reverting back to Cold War-era strategic competition? Project 6633 grapples with these issues.
66o33′ are the northern and southern latitudinal lines of the Arctic Circle (66o33′ N) and Antarctic Circle (66o33′ S), respectively. Few cross these lines for any reason, though today more are doing so under the pretext of defense and security. Project 6633 is the first global initiative aimed specifically at advancing defense community discussions on security issues (broadly defined) in the polar regions of both the Arctic and Antarctica.