The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

The Looming Threat

February 9, 2007

I assumed the data on Svalbard military spending was a mistake. But now I’m becoming quite concerned. David Johnston uncovers more about the possible threat from Svalbard.

The island will soon be home to a Doomsday facility.

David questions whether the bunker is really just a seed vault. Given our information about Svalbard’s immense per capita military expenditures–which in absolute terms dwarf its “official” GDP–I think he’s right to be skeptical. When we combine these facts with the looming Polar Bear threat–territorial losses and foreign occupations breed, as we all know, suicide terrorism–perhaps the US is focusing undue attention on Iran and North Korea. The true threat may lie in Svalbard.

But, and here’s an even more frightening thought, what if the “Doomsday” vault really is a seed bank?

Why would Svalbard be hoarding seeds in a facility designed to insulate them against future catastrophes? What could Svalbard be planning?


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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.