For many, Trump’s recent proposal to buy Greenland came as a major surprise, though the seemingly fanciful notion was quickly dismissed as little more than an attempted distraction from the president’s far greater problems – or, at worse, a bad joke.
That is, until Trump canceled a meeting with Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen due to her dismissal of his proposal, illustrating the severity of a situation that up until August 20 has been essentially a non-issue. Trump’s comments in subsequent days have only exacerbated tensions, with the president both labeling Frederiksen’s dismissal as a “nasty” insult and criticizing Denmark for not contributing enough to NATO defense spending.
While it seems unlikely that any major diplomatic rift will open between the two countries, Denmark has certainly taken Trump’s comments with a bit of anger, and the fact that such an unexpected – and up until recently, half-hearted – proposal could have the potential to destabilize relations with a major ally is in and of itself somewhat ridiculous.
All this discussion begs the question: Why did Trump want to buy Greenland in the first place?
Much of it may have to do with Greenland’s rich natural resources, which include rare earths, oil, uranium, and other mineral and energy sources. Buying the island would allow the US direct access to these resources and the ability to do with them as they see fit. This, of course, would involve much destruction of Greenland’s pristine Arctic landscapes, which would lead to numerous consequences for both the native flora and fauna and the region’s environment as a whole.
This may not exactly be a problem for Trump, who has made clear his stance on environmental issues – his dismissal of human activities as the primary cause of recent climate change, for instance, has been well documented. A few lost plant and animal species would likely mean little in the face of such a clear boost to the country’s economy.
It may, however, be a problem for Greenland’s inhabitants, who have made clear their desire to not be bought by the United States. This is significant because of Greenland’s autonomy; if Trump wants to buy Greenland, then he will have to convince Greenlanders themselves, not the government of Denmark, which only nominally owns the region. Naturally, Greenland’s inhabitants have little interest in giving up this autonomy to a foreign nation, especially one that plans to exploit its resources. In other words, even if Trump is serious about the possibility of buying Greenland, he likely won’t be able to.
In all likelihood, though, the whole Greenland debacle will likely be quickly blown away by the mercurial storm that is Donald Trump’s presidency, no matter its ridiculousness or the potentially diplomatically threatening nature of Denmark’s response. Indeed, Trump’s swift acceptance of Denmark’s decision – related insults momentarily disregarded – likely means that this proposal was meant to be more exploratory rather than a major course of action that the president plans to take. Whatever the case, one thing’s for sure: Greenland is decidedly not for sale.
Brandon Kim, Grade 11
Culver City High School