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The Wall Street Journal posted a story yesterday that revealed Trump’s ongoing interest in buying the country of Greenland, which seems to have captured the real-estate developer’s imagination, according to people within the White House. Aides confirmed that Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in buying the Danish territory between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans with varying levels of seriousness. Greenland is also the largest island in the world after Australia, which is defined as a continent, and given Trump’s obsession with “huge” things, we all should have seen this coming.
According to reports, Trump has asked advisers in passing conversations and at dinners whether the U.S. can actually buy Greenland and seemed incredibly interested when anyone has discussed the resources, geopolitical importance and strategic location. Trump has even asked White House counsel to look into the idea according to two WSJ sources.
Naturally, the first response was to mock the impractical arrogance of a man who is only interested in personal deals that somehow benefit him. Discussions ensued about whether this could even be done practically or legally. Given the level of increased spending by the federal government since Trump and other Republicans took office and the inability to pay for the needs we already have, it seemed like a good idea to laugh it off as another attempt for Trump to create more golf courses. Considering the rustic charm of Greenland, which seems frozen in time (pun intended), I’m not sure TRUMP spelled out across it in gold letters is really a good look.
But the history in these types of land acquisitions is rich and it’s been done before. In 1867, President Andrew Johnson bought Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, which works out to less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles and was championed by William Henry Seward, Johnson’s expansionist secretary of state. Given that Sarah Palin hails from Alaska, I would argue it may just be the type of bargain that looks good on paper only. The jury’s still out.
It also wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. has tried to buy Greenland. President Truman directed U.S. officials to offer Denmark $100 million in gold bars for the world’s largest island in 1946. The plan was kept secret until 1991 when a Danish newspaper found classified documents confirming the details of the offer. Jock Hickerson, a State Department Official in 1946 wrote a memo that detailed the quest for Greenland stating that “practically every member” of the planning and strategy committee agreed that the United States should try to buy Greenland. Hickerson reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff believed that the territory was “completely worthless to Denmark” and “indispensable to the safety of the United States.” But after the idea was floated at a December 1946 meeting with the Danish Foreign Minister, the response seemed to be one of shock and insult.
It’s easy to make fun of Donald Trump and any crazy idea he might have. But, the bigger issue here is not as much about how we have already tried this and failed or even how insulting Trump’s hubris is in the face of all the costs America is facing that we can’t afford now. The truth, when you see past Trump’s continued focus in real estate ventures despite his abysmal performance throughout his lifetime, is that this plan made by the Trump Administration proves that Republicans know that Climate Change is real and altering the landscape of the world at a rapid pace. They are just only interested in profiting from it.
(View of the effects of climate change on Greenland's massive ice sheets, now melting much faster than previously thought.)
Greenland has been the largest source of sea level rise globally due to melting ice. Sea ice is receding at an alarming rate due to global warming and the Arctic is now quickly emerging as a potential new sea route for trade vessels and warships as a result. This fact has not been lost on those intent on making money from the environmental changes. Take the following quote from Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo in May:
“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could [become] the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals.”
This new desire to buy Greenland reflects that Trump and his Republican advisors see monetary opportunity in new access to the Arctic. To be able to see the business opportunity in the first place means you have to be able to see what caused that opportunity. Trump and the GOP know full well that climate change is occurring and will drastically change the topography of the world. They are all aligning themselves now to profit from it with further deregulation that will actually speed up the process. Republican leaders are only selling the premise that it’s a hoax to the fools who will believe it to open the door for their own monetary gain. The risk for future generations seems to fly out the window when the possibility for riches within their own lifetimes exists.
But obviously, Greenland is not for sale but it turns out the Danes have an excellent sense of humor:
“As we have stated, Greenland is not for sale. We have noted, however, that during the Trump regime, pretty much everything in the United States, including its government, has most definitely been for sale. Denmark would be interested in purchasing the United States in its entirety, with the exception of its government.” — Spokesperson for the Danish government on Friday
Well done, Denmark. Well done.
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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.