Tomorrow’s Arctic: Theatre of War or Cooperation? The Real Story Behind the Alaska Purchase
Today, the Arctic has increasingly become identified as a domain of great prosperity and cooperation amongst world civilizations on the one side and a domain of confrontation and war on the other.
In 2007, the Russian government first voiced its support for the construction of the Bering Strait rail tunnel connecting the Americas with the Eurasian continent- a policy which has taken on new life in 2020 as Putin’s Great Arctic Development strategy has wedded itself to the northern extension of the Belt and Road Initiative (dubbed the Polar Silk Road). In 2011, the Russian government re-stated its pledge to build the $64 billion project.
On the Stone Age side of things, deep state neocons have also looked upon the arctic as a strategic zone of global importance, but with a very different mental filter from their Russian counterparts. NORAD chief Terrance O’Shaughnessy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a vast array of NATO-philes have repeatedly called upon the Arctic as a domain of militarization and confrontation with their primary “strategic nemeses” Russia and China.
So let’s assume the Dark Age nut jobs infesting the USA don’t win the day, and a new system emerges from the rubble of the currently collapsing world order premised around certain principles of long term cooperation, infrastructure and science investments, rather than the worship of money and debt slavery. Even the most cynical among us must admit that this is at least possible. After all, Russia Gate has increasingly collapsed, General Flynn has been exonerated, and Putin has called repeatedly for an emergency meeting of the five nuclear powers of the UN Security Council to discuss the creation of a new system.
So if this new system occurs and if saner forces amongst the western nations go with the Putin Plan for Arctic Development rather than the neocon WWIII agenda, then this happier outcome would not exactly be an unprecedented event. It is after all the case that the same historic American-Russian brotherhood which saved America during the Civil War would finally realize that great intention of leading statesmen in Lincoln’s America and Czar Alexander II’s Russia from the very moment Russia sold Alaska to America.
Leibnizian reforms of Peter the Great (Czar from 1682 until 1725).
As Russian expansionism was promoted by opportunist forces dominating the government of Czar Nicholas I (Czar from 1825-1855) who chased after Ottoman possessions in their obsession to expand Russian influence in Central Asia, the seeds of Russia’s self-destruction were being sown. While Russian expansionists were expecting the easy capture of territories long held by a failing Ottoman empire, what they found was a spiders’ web of Anglo-French intrigue and traps which nearly destroyed the proud nation during the bloody Crimean War (October 1853 to February 1856). The war’s outcome saw Russia humiliated, indebted and crippled morally and physically.
In response to this failure, a new breed of statecraft arose as an enlightened Czar (Alexander II) took the reins from the deceased Nicholas in 1854. With his leadership, statesmen such as the Grand Duke Constantine (Alexander’s brother), General Nikolai Muraviev, Foreign Minister Gorchakov and the great Russian Ambassador to America Eduard de Stoeckl gained a new level of influence and a new foreign policy doctrine was created. This doctrine was exemplified by an enhanced appreciation of the destructive role of the British Empire’s global strategy and the importance of America as a collaborator and partner.
Alexander II quickly began tackling endemic corruption, and worked to transform Russia by freeing the serfs in 1861 earning him the namesake “the Great Liberator”.
Although America had fallen into a Civil War by 1861, the British Empire which had done so much to keep the world subdued during the Crimean War, Opium Wars, and suppression of vast Indian uprisings was petrified that a Russian-American friendship would set into motion a great power alliance capable of undoing its global hegemony.
One of the few means Britain had to keep these two historic allies from uniting remained its territories of Canada and especially the colony of British Columbia. This colony was then an isolated and bankrupt outpost on the west coast separated by 3000 km of undeveloped wilderness privately owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company. British Columbia’s primary economic connection was not Britain, but rather California and a large movement of colonists had been calling for separation from the Empire in order to annex to the then-prosperous USA.
In 1860, Ambassador Stoeckl wrote to the Czar:
“If the United States should win mastery of our possessions then British Oregon (British Columbia) would be squeezed together by the Americans from the north and south and would hardly be able to escape”. (1)
Grand Duke Constantine echoed Stoeckl saying:
“the United States of North America should in the course of events be eager to conquer all of North America and will therefore meet us sooner or later and there is not the slightest doubt that it will seize our colonies without great effort and we shall be in no possession to retain them” (2)
As early as 1853, General Muraviev had already promoted Russia’s sale to Alaska in a letter to the Czar stating:
“Due to the present amazing development of railroads, the United States will soon spread over all North America. We must face the fact that we will have to cede our North American possessions to them.” (3)
Russia Saves America: 1863
By 1862 the Civil War had begun in full force and with British corporations and Foreign Office supporting of the Confederacy (and banks launching financial warfare launched against the Union), tides had quickly turned against Lincoln. The British possessions of Toronto and Montreal served as Confederate bases from which dozens of terrorist attacks were launched against Lincoln’s Union from the North (including the President’s eventual assassination from Montreal) while British-sponsored battles were being waged from the South.
As the world watched with bated breath Ambassador Stoeckl wrote to Gorchakov:
“The disintegration of the United States as a nation would from our point of view be something to be deplored. The American confederation has acted as a counterpoise to British power and in this sense, its continued existence constitutes an important element in the balance of power.” He continued that he desired “the preservation of the American Union as an indivisible nation.” (4)
Surely the outcome of the Civil War would have been much darker had it not been for Czar Alexander II’s deployment of the Russian navy to California and Atlantic coasts of America in 1863 which kept British and French forces from assisting the confederacy in open warfare against Lincoln.
Later describing his motive, Czar Alexander II said:
“In the Autumn of 1862, the governments of France and Great Britain proposed to Russia, in a formal but not in an official way, the joint recognition by European powers of the independence of the Confederate States of America. My immediate answer was: `I will not cooperate in such action; and I will not acquiesce. On the contrary, I shall accept the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States by France and Great Britain as a casus belli for Russia. And in order that the governments of France and Great Britain may understand that this is no idle threat; I will send a Pacific fleet to San Francisco and an Atlantic fleet to New York…All this I did because of love for my own dear Russia… I acted thus because I understood that Russia would have a more serious task to perform if the American Republic, with advanced industrial development were broken up and Great Britain should be left in control of most branches of modern industrial development.” (5)
By December 26, 1864 as the outcome of the war in favor of the union was blossoming, Secretary of State William Seward encouraged the Grand Duke Constantine to come to America with the following words “I think it would be beneficial to us, and by no means unprofitable to Russia. I forebear from specifying my reasons- They will readily occur to you, as they would to his imperial highness if his thoughts were turned in that direction.” (6)
The Sale of Alaska Consummated
In 1866, Stoeckl was called back to Russia and after a lengthy meeting with Czar Alexander II, the Grand Duke Constantine, the Foreign Ministers and Finance Minister, was given approval to initiate the sale of Alaska to America.
On the evening of March 29, 1867, Ambassador Stoeckl delivered the news to William Seward at his private residence in Washington D.C. When asked if Seward wished to convene a meeting the following day, the Secretary of State asked why wait until tomorrow what could be done that very evening?
Prometheus and Canada 1774-1874”.
The British hand behind the Civil War was exposed for all the world to see in the Alabama Claims of 1872 (the world’s first international trial) finding the British government guilty of militarily supporting the confederacy. In recompense for this crime, Sumner and Seward wanted the British to cede all of their remaining possessions in North America. Such an act would certainly have given great fuel to the connection of the Trans Continental Railway begun during the height of the Civil War and completed in 1869- with Eurasia.
‘The Imperial Myth of Canada’s National Policy’.
count Sergei Witte. On its maiden voyage the Trans-Siberian rail saw Philadelphia-made train cars run across the Russian heartland, and it is no accident that all of the key players involved in the Alaska purchase were also involved in the Russian continental rail program on both sides of the ocean.
The China Connection
Both Charles Sumner and William Seward were also strong advocates of uniting America’s destiny with China. Seward and U.S. Consul to Beijing, General Anson Burlingham, worked in tandem with Seward’s son George Frederick Seward (U.S. Consul to Shanghai) to organize the Seward-Burlingham Treaty of 1868 with China, giving China free emigration and travel in America, reciprocal access to education for citizens living in the others’ country, and favored nation status with the United States on trade. While treacherous politicians later annulled this treaty, its existence brought a new generation of Chinese revolutionaries to America including a young student named Sun Yat-sen who would later lead a revolution in 1911, establishing a new Chinese republic upon the Three Principles elaborated first by Abraham Lincoln!
1867 speech in defense of the Alaska Purchase:
“To unite the East of Asia with the West of America is the aspiration of commerce now as when the English navigator (Meares) recorded his voyage. Of course, whatever helps this result is an advantage. The Pacific railroad is such an advantage; for, though running westward, it will be, when completed, a new highway to the East.”
When President Ulysses Grant came to power in 1869, he gave much support to this internationalization of the American system while also fighting valiantly to advance Lincoln’s plans for reconstruction and reconciliation with an emancipated America.
Governor of Colorado William Gilpin was not least among this group. Gilpin had been known as one of the earliest champions of America’s Trans Continental Railroad from as early as 1846 and his hundreds of speeches, published maps and writings went further than any other statesman to concretize what those international public works would look like.
Describing his grand design for international public works, Gilpin wrote in his widely read 1890 magnum opus ‘The Cosmopolitan Railway’:
“Railways continue to extend themselves, soon to become a universal system over all the lands of the globe. We have seen the energies of the American people, bringing into line and into use these new powers, span their continent with the Pacific railways… they will continue to expand their work to Bering Straits, where all the continents are united. This will extend itself along similarly propitious thermal selvage of the oriental Russian coasts into China. To prolong this unbroken line of cosmopolitan railways along the latitudinal plateau of Asia, to Moscow and to London, will not have long delay. The less significant and isolated continents of the southern hemisphere- South America, Africa, and Australasia- will be reached by feeders through Panama, Suez and the chain of Oriental peninsulas and islands. The whole area and all the populations of the globe will be thus united and fused by land travel and railway.”
reported on March 27, 1906:
“The Czar of Russia has issued an order authorizing the American syndicate, represented by Baron Loicq de Lobel, to begin work on the Trans-Siberian-Alaska railroad project. The plan is to build a railroad from Siberia to Alaska by bridging and tunneling the Bering Strait. It is said that the enterprise will be capitalized at from $250 to $300 million and that the money centers of Russia, France and the United States will be asked to take bonds.”
While the Anglo-American financed revolution deposed of the Czar and his family by 1917, the Russian government under the guidance of Vladimir Putin, working in tandem with Xi Jinping’s China have put the project back onto the agenda, and with the first American System President in decades at the helms of the USA government who has repeated stated his desire to unite America’s interests with those of Eurasia, the vision of Gilpin’s New Paradigm is being given a new chance at life.
Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk, is regular author with Strategic Culture, the Duran and Fort Russ and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation and can be reached at [email protected]
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.