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The Polar Pivot: Great Power Competition in the Arctic and Antarctica

Ryan Patrick Burke
The Polar Pivot: Great Power Competition in the Arctic and Antarctica
ISBN: 978-1-62637-994-7
ISBN: 978-1-955055-16-1
2022/261 pages/LC: 2021036838
"Unique and comprehensive…. This thought-provoking book should be required reading for all those interested in Great Power competition in the polar regions." —Ben Gochman, University of Denver

"Provides compelling information as to the significance of the Arctic and Antarctica as areas requiring a renewed security focus for the US and other key international actors. A must-read for anyone interested in the polar regions." —Cameron Carlson, University of Alaska Fairbanks


Once impassable and inhospitable, both the Arctic region and Antarctica are rapidly emerging as geopolitically strategic hot spots. As Ryan Burke writes in The Polar Pivot, the ice is melting and the tensions rising.

In this new environment, what are the stakes? Why are Russia and China racing to increase their military capabilities and infrastructures in the polar regions? What is the United States doing to safeguard its interests and influence in response? Arguing that both poles are becoming contested military domains in an arena of great power competition, Burke tackles these questions and outlines the shift necessary in US defense policy to face a potentially looming crisis.


Ryan Patrick Burke is professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies at the US Air Force Academy.


  • On Thin Ice: The Polar Melting Pot.
  • Security, Sovereignty, and Influence in the Polar Regions.
  • The Four Cs: Commons, Claims, Covenants, and Cosmos.
  • Polar Peer Powers: China and Russia.
  • US Polar Policy and Strategy.
  • The Polar Trap: Conditions for Conflict.
  • Toward a US Grand Strategy.
  • Balancing on the Pivot: The Future of Polar Security.