All Trump sees when he looks as Greenland is an island nation filled with unused — unexploited — natural resources that could benefit both the U.S. and, perhaps, Greenland. 

Despite Trump’s promise not to develop his own properties on Greenland, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, made it clear that Greenland is not for sale. As a result of this revelation, President Trump canceled — “postponed” — his trip to Denmark for two weeks. Not a surprising move by the President considering all that he seems to be able to do, regardless of the consequences, in order to accomplish what he says he wants to. In a tweet yesterday, the President remarked —

“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time…The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to reschedule sometime in the future!” — Donald Trump’s personal twitter account (@realDonaldTrump)

At Trump’s West Virginia rally, he made comments about the purchase of Greenland and how great it would be for the United States.

The one question on people’s minds is why Trump would want to buy Greenland in the first place? Personally, I thought it was either a joke or a misunderstanding on the part of many journalists until the story survived for many days and Trump confirmed it himself. Still, Greenland does have attractive qualities that would help Trump improve his standing as President and solidify his place in the history books, as if he did not do that already. 

Greenland?

The purchase of Greenland calls to mind some U.S. history: The Louisiana Purchase attributed to President Thomas Jefferson and the purchase of Alaska by President Andrew Johnson. President Harry Truman also attempted to buy Greenland during his Presidency, though it was done during the Cold War era and was not made public until decades later. Greenland is also about a quarter of the size of the United States, securing another territory for the U.S. that would Trump look “powerful” on the world stage. Whether or not this helps the U.S. in the short term or the long run is debatable.

There are a lot of natural resources in Greenland that could help the U.S. produce more products locally, something Trump campaigned on in the 2016 election. Many scientists also believe Greenland has one of the world’s largest remaining oil resources. 

There is also the question of who exactly Trump needs to look powerful for? Who is he competing against? His own disapproval rating? Russia? China? It is unclear the exact motivations behind Trump’s desire to purchase Greenland, but it is clear that the purchase of Greenland would cost the U.S. a significant amount of money, possibly up to a trillion. The total cost benefit analysis, however, is not yet clear. Trump has not indicated what his plans would be if the United States were to purchase Greenland.

Trump also took to twitter to criticize Denmark’s economy. For a good part of his Presidency, Trump often criticised the relationships other countries have with the U.S., claiming that other countries do not pay enough to the U.S. for the U.S.’s military protection and support. Greenland could be something he deserves, in his mind, for all the support the U.S gives to Denmark.

There are many strategic, geopolitical, international, and political reasons why Donald Trump has such an interest, now, in buying Greenland. 

Trump mentioned that buying Greenland is not a number one priority, but it does make some wonder; if it is not his number one priority, then why cancel a meeting with the PM of Denmark over the proclaimed impossibility of this purchase?

Remarks From Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen

Early Wednesday, Denmark

“It is with regret and surprise that I received the news that President Trump has canceled his state visit to Denmark on the 2nd and 3rd of September. I had been looking forward to the visit. Our preparations were well underway. It was an opportunity, I think, to celebrate Denmark’s close relationship to the U.S., who remains one of Denmark’s closest allies. I was looking forward to having a dialogue on the many shared interests Denmark has with the U.S. Furthermore, the developments in the Arctic region call for further cooperation between the U.S. and Greenland, Faroe Islands and Denmark, and therefore I would like to underline our invitation for stronger cooperation on Arctic affairs still stands. A discussion has been raised about a potential of Greenland. This has clearly been rejected — a position that I share, of course. This does not change the character of our good relations. And we will, of course, from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing.”

Denmark Response

In response to Donald Trump’s desire for purchasing Greenland, Fredriksen called the idea “absurd,” and in response Trump called her “nasty,” though Trump says that about almost any woman he dislikes on the political and international stage.

Many Danish and Greenland politicians came forward to express disappointment over Trump’s canceled visit and acknowledge the absurdity of Trump’s desire to buy Greenland. Greenland’s Ministry of Forgein Affairs headed by Ane Lone Bagger tweeted that Greenland is “open for business, not for sale.” That seems to be the general sentiment of most Greenlanders.

There is a desire by the citizens for Greenland to become independent, but there are questions of how Greenland would survive without Demark’s support. The economy there is not great either. This is why the purchase by the U.S. might be appealing to some, but perhaps not the best idea for Greenland because it is doubtful Trump wants to help them on the road to independence. 

Instead, it seems as if he simply wants to profit off of Greenland’s resources and exacerbate the climate crisis by accessing Greenland’s oil reserves, which Denmark avoids draining. Trump probably sees Greenland as a proverbial “goldmine” that just sits there, unaccessed by most of the world. 

It seems as though this purchase is not going to happen, and given the current climate, perhaps it never will. 

Margaret Valenti

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.