The 9pm Polar Political Peregrination with Dr Liz Buchanan

Dr Elizabeth Buchanan (Photo: Australian National University; Map: CIA / Library of Congress)

In the final episode of the Edict’s Late Winter Series, we discuss Antarctic geopolitics with Dr Elizabeth Buchanan from the Australian War College. There’s a lot more to it than snow, penguins, and coloured lights in the sky.

We talk about krill, the secret Nazi bunkers, illegal fishing, the Antarctic Treaty System, China’s interest in Antarctic resources, and how one Russian fishing vessel was faking its AIS beacon data to cover its tracks. There’s even a fascinating fact about chess.

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CONVERSATION TOPICS: Richard Stephens.

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  • Elizabeth is Lecturer of Strategic Studies with Deakin University for the Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC) at the Australian War College (Australian Defence’s Senior Officer/1 Star – Course) and a Fellow of the Modern War Institute at West Point.
  • polar geopolitics & contested commons | Lecturer Strategic Studies @Deakin | Fellow/CoDirector Project 6633 @WarInstitute | Fmr @NATO_DefCollege | Views own
  • Antarctica (/ænˈtɑːrtɪkə/ or /ænˈtɑːrktɪkə/ (listen))[note 1] is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometres (5,500,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia.
  • [THE MAP ON THIS PAGE IS THE ONE MENTIONED SPECIFICALLY IN THE PODCAST.] Seven sovereign states have made territorial claims in Antarctica, which are Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories; however, a number of such facilities are located outside of the area claimed by their respective countries of operation, and countries without claims such as India, Italy, Russia, Pakistan, Ukraine and the United States have constructed research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries.
  • [THIS IS THE SECOND MAP ALLUDED TO IN THE PODCAST.]
  • [A VARIATION ON THE POLAR PROJECTION MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST.] The arctic projection is used sometimes, for example in the flag of the United Nations. But you hardly ever see the Antarctic projection, which was a reason for me to develop that one in more detail.
  • The Hollowmen S02 E06 "A Quiet January" (2008)
  • The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe. The term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, was coined by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD.
  • The Australian Defence Force has completed a long-distance airdrop mission to resupply the Australian Antarctic Division’s Mawson Station in Antarctica. The mission was completed over 18-19 August 2021, as part of Operation Southern Discovery. One of our C-17A Globemasters from No. 36 Squadron launched from Perth Airport, with the crew refuelling in flight over the Southern Ocean from an Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
  • Some people have had a little more time on their hands recently. And the internet has many places to play. It seems whatever you think, or believe, the internet will support your view or belief, no matter how bizarre. Craig Cormick tells a tale which comes with a warning for us all – best stop and think before we forward our latest internet discovery to everyone we know.
  • Adolf Hitler used the concept of Lebensraum (“living space”) to justify the invasion of Poland, Russia and other eastern European nations to his people. But one small chapter in Hitler’s drive for new land is often overlooked: how the Third Reich’s hunger for margarine led to a secret expedition to Antarctica 80 years ago.
  • In ufology, conspiracy theory, science fiction, and comic book stories, claims or stories have circulated linking UFOs to Nazi Germany. The German UFO theories describe supposedly successful attempts to develop advanced aircraft or spacecraft prior to and during World War II, and further assert the post-war survival of these craft in secret underground bases in Antarctica, South America, or the United States, along with their creators.
  • The Dibb Report (Review of Australia's Defence Capabilities) was an influential review of Australia's defence plans. While the report's recommendations were not fully accepted by the Hawke government, they led to significant changes in Australia's defence policy, including adoption of the Defence of Australia Policy.
  • The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties.
  • Both cases concerned the arrest of the Russian-flagged longline fishing vessel, Volga, which was apprehended by the Australian Navy for illegally fishing for Patagonian Toothfish in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) adjacent to Heard and McDonald Islands, remote and uninhabited islands 4,000 km southwest of Perth.
  • On the morning of April 1, 1978, a barge appeared in Sydney Harbor towing a giant iceberg. Sydneysiders (as residents of Sydney are known) were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman (owner of Dick Smith Foods and Dick Smith Electronics), had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded.
  • [6 May 2017] A firm in Abu Dhabi has floated plans to tow icebergs from Antarctica to the United Arab Emirates to solve the country’s fresh water shortage. An iceberg holding 20bn gallons of fresh water could meet the needs of a million people for five years, but first it would have to be hauled across 10,000km of open ocean to the coast of Fujairah, a feat that could take a year.
  • On January 19 last year, a routine New Zealand surveillance flight over the Southern Ocean spotted a Russian-flagged ship called FV Palmer​ fishing in a marine conservation area where fishing is banned by international agreement. The Palmer's satellite tracker – officially called a “vessel monitoring system” or VMS​ – indicated the vessel was about 800 nautical miles (1500 kilometres) from that spot.
  • The Australian Antarctic Division is part of the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The Division, based in Kingston, Tasmania, leads and coordinates and delivers the Australian Antarctic Program.
  • Operation Southern Discovery is the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) contribution to the whole-of-government, Department of Environment and Energy-led activity in the Antarctic Region – the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP).
  • The McMurdo Station is a United States Antarctic research station on the south tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand–claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National Science Foundation. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents, and serves as one of three year-round United States Antarctic science facilities.
  • The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station is the United States scientific research station at the South Pole of the Earth. It is the southernmost point under the jurisdiction (not sovereignty) of the United States. The station is located on the high plateau of Antarctica at 2,835 metres (9,301 feet) above sea level. The number of scientific researchers and members of the support staff housed at the Amundsen–Scott Station has always varied seasonally, with a peak population of around 200 in the summer operational season from October to February. In recent years the winter-time population has been around 50 people.
  • [19 February 2020] P&O Maritime employee Madeleine Habib was asked to remove social media post of a banner on the ship after the Australian Antarctic Division contacted P&O
  • Aurora Australis was an Australian icebreaker. Built by Carrington Slipways and launched in 1989, the vessel is owned by P&O Maritime Services. It was regularly chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) for research cruises in Antarctic waters and to support Australian bases in Antarctica.
  • The whole-of-Government Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan (Strategy and Action Plan) sets out Australia’s national Antarctic interests and our vision for Australia’s future engagement in Antarctica. It recognises Australia’s strong strategic and scientific interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and sets out actions to support these over 20 years.
  • The scope of research covered by NCAR reflects that identified in the Australian Antarctic Science Plan.
  • [1 September 2021] Australia's state-of-the-art Antarctic icebreaker, Nuyina, has begun its six-week journey across the planet to its new home port of Hobart. The RSV (research and supply vessel) Nuyina departed Vlissingen in the Netherlands last night after completing final testing, and will arrive in Hobart in October after a 24,000-kilometre trip.
  • n October 1997 HMAS Anzac (III) deployed from Fremantle with the tanker HMAS Westralia (II) in support as part of Operation DIRK. On 15 October, Anzac sighted a FFV [foreign fishing vessel] on radar, subsequently identified her as the Salvora, shadowed her and then attempted a boarding, but bad weather intervened. Later that day, the Salvora was boarded, a steaming party embarked and she was directed to make passage to Fremantle. On 17 October, Anzac inserted a boarding party by Seahawk aboard another FFV, the Aliza Glacial, and a steaming party was left on board while Anzac escorted both FFVs to a rendezvous with Westralia on 18 October. Westralia subsequently took charge of both FFVs while Anzac, after refuelling from Westralia, continued patrolling, but no further FFVs were sighted.
  • In October 1997, ‘Operation Dirk’ saw the arrest and escort to the port of Fremantle of two boats apprehended in the Southern Ocean. The first of these was the Salvora. The Belize-flagged vessel was boarded some 174 nautical miles inside the Australian Fisheries Zone (Queen v Paz and Santome). Twenty boxes of frozen Patagonian toothfish and 43 boxes of unfrozen headed, tailed and gutted recently cut toothfish were found onboard. The Spanish Captain and Master were both charged with offences under Sections 100 and 101 of the FMA. Section 100 prohibits fishing by a foreign boat in the Australian Fisheries Zone unless so authorized under a foreign fishing licence. Section 101 prohibits a person from having in their possession or charge a foreign boat equipped with nets, traps or other equipment for fishing unless so authorized or if the boat’s nets, traps or other equipment for fishing are stored and secured and the boat meets one of several requirements. These include: having AFMA approval; being on innocent passage on a direct route through the Australian Fisheries Zone; or being for use as a scientific research vessel and having an appropriate permit.
  • The Head is a Spanish-made, English-language psychological thriller series (6 episodes) directed by Jorge Dorado, first broadcast on June 12, 2020, in Spain and 30+ other countries & areas, and 52+ countries and areas as of October 2020.
  • 1959 – The Vostok Station (станция Восток), then a Soviet research station in Princess Elizabeth Land, was the scene of a fight between two scientists over a game of chess. When one of them lost the game, he became so enraged that he attacked the other with an ice axe. According to some sources, it was a murder, though other sources say that the attack was not fatal. After a KGB investigation, chess games were banned at Soviet/Russian Antarctic stations by the Antarctic Soviet.
  • Ice Station Zebra is a 1968 Metrocolor Cold War era suspense and espionage film directed by John Sturges and starring Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine, and Jim Brown. The screenplay is by Alistair MacLean, Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink, and W. R. Burnett, loosely based on MacLean's 1963 novel. Both have parallels to real-life events that took place in 1959.
  • Car Wash is a 1976 American comedy film released by Universal Pictures. The film was directed by Michael Schultz from a screenplay by Joel Schumacher. Starring Franklyn Ajaye, Bill Duke, George Carlin, Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Clarence Muse, Lorraine Gary, The Pointer Sisters, Richard Pryor, and Garrett Morris, Car Wash is an episodic comedy about a day in the lives of the employees and the owner, Mr. B (Sully Boyar), of a Los Angeles, California car wash (filmed at a Westlake car wash at the corner of Rampart Boulevard and 6th Street).
  • Car Wash ©1975 MCA Records
  • Project COLDFEET was a 1962 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation to extract intelligence from an abandoned Soviet Arctic drifting ice station. Due to the nature of its abandonment as the result of unstable ice, the retrieval of the operatives used the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system.
  • Soviet and Russian staffed drifting ice stations are research stations built on the ice of the high latitudes of the Arctic Ocean. They are important contributors to exploration of the Arctic. The stations are named North Pole (NP; Russian: Северный полюс, romanized: Severny polyus, СП), followed by an ordinal number: North Pole-1, etc.
  • [This is NOT the map from The Times Atlas of World History referred to in the podcast. That was much more detailed.]
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, more commonly known simply as Dr. Strangelove, is a 1964 black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • @ApostrophePong's blog posts which include photographs of Murmansk and surrounds from his visit in 2018..
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, /ˈneɪtoʊ/; French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
  • Able Archer 83 was the annual NATO Able Archer exercise conducted in November 1983. The purpose for the command post exercise, like previous years, was to simulate a period of conflict escalation, culminating in the US military attaining a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack. Historians such as Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive, and Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College, have since argued that Able Archer 83 was one of the times when the world has come closest to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The declassification of related documents in 2021 lent additional credence to this notion.

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