Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


International Affairs

First Advisor

Michael Kanner

Second Advisor

Aysegul Aydin

Third Advisor

Shuang Zhang


This paper is a broad case study attempting to reconcile how structural realism can use different liberal theories and concepts to accomplish realist ends. That being said, the current situation in the Arctic has real-world significance that draws equal importance with the theoretical implications of this thesis. As climate change is opening the Arctic to economic exploitation in the near future, this paper addresses the rising importance of the Arctic and the issue of how the U.S. and its allies should respond to Russian militarization of the Arctic while ensuring their own interests. By the utilization of structural realism in the analysis of the situation, this paper argues that an efficient way to prevent Russia from gaining economic capabilities in the Arctic is through a political agreement based on the common interests of the “Arctic Five”: United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, and Norway. Preference schedules are used to analyze and compare each state’s individual interests, resource sovereignty, continued peaceful operations and cooperation, and environmental sustainability. The analysis of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) reveal both relevant provisions and crucial mistakes to be taken into account while constructing this political agreement. After a discussion of specific policy, this thesis concludes that a political agreement is the most effective way to constrain Russian aggression and ambition in the Arctic.