They laughed at Seward, too. China means to have it but historically America has first dibs.
Greenland is a self-governing region of Denmark, which colonized the 772,000-square-mile (two-million-square-kilometer) island in the 18th century, and is home to nearly 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community.
Greenland: Trump’s Folly?Call it the Greenland New Deal. President Trump’s interest in America purchasing the vast territory known as Greenland is being met with laughter and derision in Denmark, it’s ostensible owner. “It has to be an April Fool’s joke,” a former premier, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, twittered. Martin Lidegaard, of the Danish Social Liberal Party, is calling it “a grotesque proposal.” If it’s true, a spokesman for the Danish People’s Party reckons, it’s “final proof” that Mr. Trump “has gone mad.”
Then again, too, one man’s insanity is another’s sense. Mr. Trump’s Greenland New Deal certainly makes a lot more sense to us than does the Democrats’ Green New Deal. Theirs is a socialistic scheme designed to extend government control over vast sectors of the economy. Mr. Trump’s is animated by a concern for America’s strategic and commercial interests. Think Louisiana Purchase. Think “Seward’s Folly,” as the deal for Alaska was called. Thirty-two years later, we struck gold in the Klondike.
It’s already being widely noted that Mr. Trump isn’t the first president to have expressed interest in Greenland. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story of Mr. Trump’s interest in Greenland, notes that as far back as 1867 the State Department launched an inquiry into buying not only Greeland but also Iceland. After World War II, President Truman, the Journal also notes, offered to purchase Greenland for $100 million dollars. And those were Bretton Woods dollars, too.
Meaning that, back in Truman’s day, we’d have been obligated to redeem each of those dollars back for a 35th of an ounce of gold. In terms of real money, Truman was talking about proffering the equivalent of 2,857,142 ounces of gold. Today that would be 3.4 trillion one dollar notes in the Federal Reserve’s irredeemable electronic paper ticket money. It gives a new meaning to the word “green,” even if the truculent Danes declined to consider Truman’s offer.
Early in 1940, according to a post-war report in the New York Times, the sages at the Council on Foreign Relations started worrying about Greenland. In March, a study group of the Council issued a report warning that Denmark could fall to Germany and with it, Greenland. Germany invaded Denmark the following month. Three days later, FDR declared at a press conference that, as one report paraphrased him, “Greenland belonged to the American continent.” Denmark’s minister in Washington agreed.
In 1941, according to a report cited by the New York Times in 1946, the State Department took the position that Greenland by then was in the “area of the Monroe Doctrine,” which opposed European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. After the war, America inked an agreement with Denmark that obligated the Danes to fly the American flag side-by-side with Denmark’s standard in various agreed upon security areas. America was granted enormous sway. In light of this kind of history, Mr. Trump seems to be ahead of those who mock him.
In our case, we’ve been fermenting on this question for several years. This is owing to frantic warnings we would receive now and again from a Nordic friend, alarmed about scouting in Greenland by the Chinese communists interested in rare earths and other strategic riches beneath the ice. So it strikes us that the Danes are a bit too quick to scoff at Mr. Trump’s Danish démarche. Particularly if one looks at the value that could redound to Greenland’s native population.
Feature, after all, that there are a few more than 51,000 natives of Greenland. If America were to pay the inflated equivalent of what President Truman was prepared to pay, that could come out to something on the order of a mind-boggling $66 million a person. That might not be of much interest to the self-satisfied politicians in Copenhagen. It might, though, be of interest to the indigenous population of Greenland, for whom the Danes have done precious little over the years.
Just saying. The fact is that we’re not as trusting of the Danes as we used to be, and it’s not just because we went over the weekend to a wonderful summer stock performance of Hamlet. On the one hand, they’re a member of the North Atlantic Treaty. On the other, it is unclear whether they can be counted on; during the climactic years of the showdown with the Soviet regime, Denmark caviled at letting a American nuclear carrier dock in Denmark. There’s no reason for President Trump, or any other American leader, not to try to strike a deal for Greenland.
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