Trump Administration Reportedly Still Looking At Buying Greenland
On the Sunday shows today, one of the President's top aides insisted that the Administration is seriously looking at the idea of buying Greenland even though it isn't for sale.
Larry Kudlow, one of the President’s chief economic advisers, insisted today that the Administration is seriously “looking at” the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark:
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday confirmed that the Trump administration is exploring trying to buy the country of Greenland, noting that the self-governing country is a “strategic place” that is rich in minerals.
“It’s developing. We’re looking at it,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Denmark owns Greenland. Denmark is an ally. Greenland is a strategic place … I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look.”
President Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark, was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Two people with direct knowledge of the directive told The Washington Postthat Trump has mentioned the idea for weeks, and aides are waiting for more direction before they decide how seriously they should look into it.
Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark in two weeks. In the days since news of Trump’s interest in Greenland broke, the idea has been ridiculed by politicians in Denmark, and Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that the island is not for sale.
“Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism,” the ministry said in a tweet. “We’re open for business, not for sale.”
While many in the United States have mocked the idea, one Democratic lawmaker on Sunday voiced openness to considering it. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “changes are happening” in Greenland due to climate change, “and the people up there understand it and they’re trying to adjust to it.”
“We have a very strategic base up there, a military base, which we visited,” Manchin said, referring to his visit to Greenland earlier this year as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation. “And I understand the strategy for that in that part of the world and the Arctic opening up the way it is now.”
He called Trump’s idea “a very interesting proposal” and said the Armed Services Committee, on which Manchin sits, should be receiving a secure briefing about it in the near future if the plan actually “has any merit to it.”
Trump is not the first U.S. president to propose buying Greenland.
Kudlow noted Sunday that after World War II, President Harry Truman’s administration offered to purchase the country from Denmark for $100 million. The U.S. military had a presence in Greenland during the war as a means to protect the continent if Germany tried to attack.
This all started late last week when The Wall Street Journal reported that the President had, for some reason, gotten the idea in his head of purchasing the world’s largest island, which presently consists of a lot of ice and about 57,000 Danish and Inuit citizens as well as the host of a large American base located in the ice-covered northwestern part of the country and which has essentially been in existence since World War II. It’s unclear where the President got the idea. There’s no record of it having been mentioned on Fox News Channel before this report, for example, so it isn’t one of those instances. Who knows? Maybe Trump was just looking at a map one day and came up with this idea on his own. It’s also been suggested that he might see this as some kind of way for him to create a legacy by becoming the first President since Andrew Johnson was persuaded by William Seward to purchase Alaska from Russia to add to the territory of the United States.
Whatever the origin of the idea, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen. As I noted on Friday, politicians in Greenland have already rejected the idea. Since then, politicians in Denmark have reacted in the same way and the people of Greenland seem to be a mixture of bemused and insulted by the whole thing:
TASIILAQ, Greenland — In this coastal town of about 2,000 people in eastern Greenland, residents weren’t sure whether to believe the news: Could President Donald Trump really be serious about wanting to buy Greenland?
“I think we take it as a sick joke by a crazy president,” said Anna Kûitse Kúko, 63, who has lived in Tasiilaq nearly all of her life and teaches English here. The remark was one of several from local residents who reacted with a mixture of mockery and anger to the reports, which originated with a report by in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The office of Greenland’s Premier Kim Kielsen also pushed back on the idea of a sale: “We have a good cooperation with U.S.A., and we see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the office said in a statement. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale. Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the government of Greenland has no further comments.”
A spokesman for the Danish Foreign Ministry said that a statement was forthcoming.
In Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, Thomas Juul-Pedersen didn’t know quite how to react to the reports on Trump’s interest.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” Juul-Pedersen, science and education coordinator at the Greenland Climate Research Centre, said in an email, “as I have a hard time taking it seriously.”
Niels Tvis Knudsen, an associate professor emeritus at Aarhus University in Denmark who has done fieldwork in east Greenland since the 1970s, said he’s concerned about outsiders coming in to exploit the country’s natural resources and take advantage of its lack of government infrastructure.
“They don’t have an army,” he said. “They don’t have an embassy. They don’t have any of those things that a normal state has.”
Online, locals mocked the idea of Trump’s interest in buying their homeland.
“Wow I didn’t know trump knew greenland existed,” tweeted Miki Fleischer from Nuuk.
“Oh please God no,” wrote Emil Malta in response to the idea.
Another resident reposted a parody photo of a traditional Greenlandic landscape unexpectedly dwarfed by a glittering gold Trump Tower.
“You cannot be serious! We are not something you can just buy. Keep away from our country,” said Greenlander Allan Schroder in a series of angry tweets.
Denmark’s former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen expressed confusion over the suggestion. “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke … but totally out of season!” he wrote.
Rufus Gifford, former U.S. ambassador to Denmark, called the idea ”a complete and total catastrophe.”
Greenland “is remarkably pristine and complex. A place unlike any other corner of the planet. It simply must be handled with immense care and the best intentions for the people there and the global climate,” he wrote.
“If anyone believes Trump has either in mind, please reconsider your reality.”
There is not going to be any sale of Greenland, of course, and in the end this will probably be dismissed as another one of the President’s foolish ideas that grabbed headlines for a few days. At the same time, it’s a perfect example of just how erratic and bizarre his thinking is and how difficult it must be for White House aides to figure out when he’s making a serious proposal and when he’s just spouting nonsense. This is clearly an example of the second, at least I think it is. I mean, he can’t possibly be serious, can he?