Saturday, August 13, 2005

They Just Don't Make Wars Like They Used to

Did you know that Canada and Denmark are in a war of sorts, the old-fashioned kind, too: a territorial dispute? They both claim sovereignty over Hans Island, a lump of rock between Greenland and some Canadian islands in the northeastern snowball's end of the frozen North. It's smaller than most of the icebergs that are around it for most of the year, hasn't got a damn thing growing on it, and apparently hasn't even been above water for that long in geological terms. But the Danish and Canadians are positioning themselves for a future of global warming in which all that frozen nothing will soon be a booming temperate zone while the desert regions to the south (e.g. the United States) will be desperate for the space and resources up north. The island's in the middle of a navigation channel, or one that would be navigable if it weren't for all the damned ice, and apparently that's some kind of key to the pissing contest that will presumably go on 20 or 30 years hence for whatever oil, etc., can be found in the area.

So, being Canadians and Danish, they're going about their war in a rather unviolent way. They keep invading the island, but only in sequence, taking turns visiting the place, hauling down the other guy's flag, putting up their own, then skedaddling before the other guy shows up. It's hard enough to reach in the first place, let alone occupy for no good reason, but you have to give both countries credit for trying. The Canadians landed their No. 1 soldier, the Minister of Defence, this year, so now the Danes are sending a warship -- albeit an unarmed warship -- to go make their counterclaim again, one that will take three weeks to get there. I'm sure the Danes probably wish they had an intercontinental missle capability about now, so they could just shoot over a flag.

And of course, being Canadians and Danes, they're negotiating in a civilized manner over the whole thing even while trading invasions. I'm just left to wonder what would have happened had Iraq made a territorial claim on the worthless piece of rock.

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