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War Between Democracies in the 21st Century

It's a truism that democracies tend not to go to war with each other. And it's hard to imagine what sorts of conditions would lead to two long-standing democracies with relatively pacific characters to come to blows. But Denmark and Canada are in a dispute over territory, a dispute that is taking an ominous turn. Hans Island, a half-mile square rock roughly midway between Canada and Greenland, is claimed by both nations; a recent visit to the island by the Canadian Defense Minister triggered a protest from Denmark. As a result, both Denmark and Canada have taken their struggle over the Arctic island to... Google Ads.

Toronto resident Rick Broadhead googled the matter and found an ad that touted Hans Island as Danish. [...] Internet users clicking on the ad were directed to the Danish Foreign Ministry's Web site.

So Broadhead paid for his own Google ad and created a Web site to promote Ottawa's sovereignty. His Google ad leads users to a fluttering Maple Leaf flag and plays the national anthem.

A quick check of Google shows that Broadhead is not alone in this now. Is this the flip-side of the decentralization of warfare?

Comments (2)


Oh dear god if they go to war the damage could be in the 10s of dollars!


Very interesting story... but in all the articles I've read about this, there is little rationale as to why they would want this island, other than to have it. There have been no mentions of actual mineral deposits, military advantages, etc.

This is the kind of egotistical nonsense which typically leads to warfare in the first place. Democracies have a good capacity to deal with this (at least with another democracy) on a more rational level, and I think the odds of something so trivial leading to anything more than minor diplomats flexing what little muscle they have is minor.

Plus, the real reason this is an issue at all may lie in the fact that the military personell on both sides want to drink!! :-)

"The bilateral dispute stems back to 1973, when borders drawn between Greenland and Canada ignored Hans Island.

Since then the two sides have expressed their claim by hoisting flags, with Danes leaving bottles of aquavit behind for the next troupe of flag-bearing Canadians, who leave bottles of whiskey in return."



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