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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
"An important, interesting, well-researched, well-reasoned, and logically argued presentation of an increasingly important and often neglected geopolitical region." —Lt Col. James M. Davitch, Air & Space Operations Review

"Should be in any collection concerned with US strategic and military goals in the 21st century." —Choice

"Makes a sophisticated and well-structured argument for the importance of the polar regions to the future national security of the United States.... The Polar Pivot [is] an important contribution to the strategic debate over how the United States and its allies might best prepare for a potentially lengthy period of great power suspicion and rivalry." —C. Dale Walton, Comparative Strategy

"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.