Patterico's Pontifications


Trump Considering Purchase Of Greenland?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:30 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Apparently, the president has become fixated on the idea of purchasing the Danish territory, not that it’s known to be up for sale:

In meetings, at dinners and in passing conversations, Mr. Trump has asked advisers whether the U.S. can acquire Greenland, listened with interest when they discuss its abundant resources and geopolitical importance, and, according to two of the people, has asked his White House counsel to look into the idea.

Some of his advisers have supported the concept, saying it was a good economic play, two of the people said, while others dismissed it as a fleeting fascination that will never come to fruition. It is also unclear how the U.S. would go about acquiring Greenland even if the effort were serious.


While the United States hasn’t added to its territory for decades, and more or less reached its present size before the end of the 19th century, there is precedent for the U.S. purchasing a massive Arctic wilderness.

In 1867, the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, an amount that now would be equivalent to about $125 million.

Also, this wouldn’t be the first time the United States has thought about purchasing the territory:

The US has apparently considered purchasing Greenland… as recently as 1946 when president Harry Truman offered $100 million in gold to purchase it. Alas, poor Harry, he did not succeed in buying the ice sheet–covered landmass, but the US does have a military base there where it basically has free reign…

Denmark, which makes Greenland’s foreign policy and security decisions, has not commented on whether they have been approached about selling the territory, nor has the State Department confirmed whether the U.S. has brought up the subject with the Danish government.

While one’s first reaction to Trump wanting to purchase Greenland might be eye-rolling amusement, it may not be an impulsive I-want-the-bright-shiny-object moment. Quite likely he is thinking about the competition with Russia and China for control of the natural resources in the Arctic:

With more than half of all Arctic coastline along its northern shores, Russia has long sought economic and military dominance in part of the world where as much as $35 trillion worth of untapped oil and natural gas could be lurking. Now China is pushing its way into the Arctic, announcing last month its ambitions to develop a “Polar Silk Road” through the region as warming global temperatures open up new sea lanes and economic opportunities at the top of the world.

At play is between one-fifth and a quarter of the world’s untapped fossil-fuel resources, not to mention a range of mineable minerals, including gold, silver, diamond, copper, titanium, graphite, uranium and other valuable rare earth elements. With the ice in retreat, those resources will come increasingly within reach.

Greenland is now viewed as a key component of Beijing’s emerging ‘Ice Silk Road.’

Here are a few upside-downside items concerning the possible purchase of Greenland being purchased by the United States:

[T]he US has been in competition with Russia and China over resources in the Arctic… Greenland apparently requires over $500 million from Denmark annually just to keep on keeping on…. 56,000 people liv[e] in Greenland… if the US purchases their land — would they gain citizenship or just become another territory without representation? — or what sort of environmental harm [would] the US cause when extracting the resources that Greenland possesses…

Postscript: Trump is scheduled to meet with Denmark leaders next month. Included in the visit will be meetings with Denmark’s new PM Mette Frederiksen, who said that she “looked forward to… discussing global issues such as security, Arctic dilemmas, trade and investment” with Trump. He is also scheduled to meet with leaders from Greenland while there.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


46 Responses to “Trump Considering Purchase Of Greenland?”

  1. Reportedly, Denmark couldn’t sell Greenland to the U.S. without a vote of consent from 55,000 native peoples. Greenland’s population is 88% Inuit.

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. I didn’t realize that there were security implications regard Greenland.

    After stewing on this a bit, I’d definitely would tell the Danes, “don’t sell to China or Russia without asking us” and beat the going offer.

    whembly (4605df)

  3. As for getting the natives to agree… just offer up citizenship/statehood (then, we can admit Puerto Rico as well).

    whembly (4605df)

  4. It would be a good central portion for the trans-Atlantic highway. You’d probably need Iceland and Ireland, too.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  5. I’d call it “Trump’s Folly” but, well….

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  6. #FakeNews.

    nk (dbc370)

  7. When China calls our loans, it could substitute as partial payment and delay the need to auction off Texas. 😉

    Though seriously, from Cold War days it has been a component of the NORAD/early warning system planning but accessing newly discovered resources in the thawing Arctic in and around Greenland, in competition w/Russia and China, does make sense. If he can cut a deal, do it. That’s worth going into debt over. They ain’t makin’ more land of lte. Better to buy it outright as opposed to SPECTRE or you-know-who conducting a ‘friendly occupation’ a la Ukraine.

    But no ’99 year leases;’ remember Hong Kong.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  8. It’s all about the resources.

    harkin (58d012)

  9. Quite likely he is thinking about the competition with Russia and China for control of the natural resources in the Arctic

    Really, you really think Donald J Trump is thinking about competition with Russia and China for the arctic?

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  10. Guantanamo Bay is on a 99 year lease, that expired I think in he year 2000. Castro refused to accept the (triviak) payment and the situation has remaned frozen ever since.

    Sammy Finkelman (ce0839)

  11. Col. Klink,

    I’m in a no-win situation: Try to see Trump as glass half-full, and get mocked. Be realistic about Trump, and get mocked.

    I’m trying to be generous here, cut me some slack. A person gets tired of being slammed for being mean to Trump…

    I think that in Trump’s eyes, bragging rights would be his primary concern, and any access to Arctic natural resources would be the icing on the cake.

    Dana (fdf131)

  12. When China calls our loans, it could substitute as partial payment and delay the need to auction off Texas.

    I believe Trump is planning on trading them California.

    Failing that, we could trade them Mexico.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  13. Well it wouldn’t be the first time that the US wanted to buy Greenland. They tried back in the 40s. Trumps problem is he processes verbally and publicly so everyone knows what random thought he has at the moment and everything is taken seriously. Sometimes I’ve been known to say, “let’s just go buy a new car” when mine is in the shop and I’m not

    Marci (405d43)

  14. augh. slip of the finger post…..

    ….. and I’m not serious, but it’s out there and spoken. Thankfully my husband doesn’t jump on it because he loves new cars…..

    Marci (405d43)

  15. Really, you really think Donald J Trump is thinking about competition with Russia and China for the arctic?

    More likely he wants to give it to them as gesture of his affection after we buy it.

    To the extent Greenland is currently autonomous, Russian (or any other European) acquisition would arguably violate the Monroe Doctrine:

    We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power, we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

    Chinese imperialism wasn’t much of a threat in Monroe’s day, but today the implications of Asian intrusion into our hemisphere would be no different.

    Dave (1bb933)

  16. Monroe Doctrine or not, we have had a Russian client state 90 miles to our south for the last sixty years.

    Kishnevi (f15403)

  17. If the U.S. buys Greenland, China or Russia can’t, and therefore their plans for a Polar Silk Road and economic and military dominance in the region is impeded, if not thwarted.

    Dana (fdf131)

  18. Go for it. It’ll be called Trump’s Icebox.

    Paul Montagu (b74dea)

  19. Greenland isn’t for sale, not to the US, Russia, or China. Greenland is part of NATO, as it’s part of Denmark, kinda like Texas is part of NATO because US. The US military has extensive basing in Greenland today, and the Northwest Passage is more reliant on Labrador Sea and Hudson Bay for North American ports at Churchill, or Baffin Bay, and Canada is more important to that than Greenland, so the US accrues little benefit.

    Greenland has few resources, that are difficult and expensive to exploit, is poor, with little value, so it’s Puerto Rico, but with crappy weather.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  20. Notice the route is internal national waters of Canada, not Greenland.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  21. Rumor has it the no Trumper squad put a bid in on Island Epstein.

    mg (8cbc69)

  22. He may be for s**t as a president, but his real estate instincts are correct: If the island is available for purchase, the US should be top bidder.
    Also, we could use more ice hotels, with geo-thermal heated golf courses! There would be more, new resorts and it would make liberals’ heads explode. Win-win!

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  23. Someday all that fresh water will be valuable.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  24. Monroe Doctrine or not, we have had a Russian client state 90 miles to our south for the last sixty years.

    The Russians didn’t put Castro in power.

    Dave (1bb933)

  25. And now it’s official, the dream has died.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  26. Greatness has eluded us, yet again.

    Dave (1bb933)

  27. So… war it is.
    Joking of course… maybe

    whembly (fd57f6)

  28. Would be handy, if Britain under Corbyn refuses to renew the 99 year leases we have from 1940 (Ascension Island etc.).

    Q: Could we then date Danish women more easily? (asking for a friend).

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  29. Q: Could we then date Danish women more easily? (asking for a friend).


    nk (dbc370)

  30. Looks like Truman TRIED To buy Greenland but Denmark wouldn’t sell. Of course, who did the Danes steal Greenland from? The native Eskimos.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  31. So… war it is.

    Did Putin take “no” for an answer from the Crimea? Hardly.

    Will Xi take “no” for an answer from Hong Kong? Of course not.

    Did North Korea take “no” for an answer from South Korea? Only temporarily, and they’re working on that as we speak.

    Strong men – great men – take what’s rightfully theirs. Donald Trump has long understood this in his dealings with vulnerable women unfortunate enough to find themselves alone with him. The time has come to put the same principles into practice on the world stage!

    Dave (c4bb53)

  32. Too much work… honestly.

    Trump would rather go “hey… Denmark… how ’bout $50 Billion over 10 years?”

    The Denmark government would have a 10 year windfall to play with. 😉

    whembly (51f28e)

  33. Greenland’s main (only?) exports are fish and seafood – could Gollum J Trump be behind this mad scheme?

    Dave (c4bb53)

  34. Heh… great twitter feed.

    whembly (51f28e)

  35. Looks like Truman TRIED To buy Greenland but Denmark wouldn’t sell. Of course, who did the Danes steal Greenland from? The native Eskimos.

    What other countries have been taken from the indigenous peoples? I know I remember a few others, it will come to me…

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  36. The CBS Evening News reported that the United States tried to buy Greenland twice before:

    Once in 1867 (evidentl Seward was interested in more than just Alaska) and the second time after World War II, by President Truman.

    Did Trump learn this history?

    Sammy Finkelman (6a3404)

  37. Greenland has its own flag and national anthem.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. Greenland has its own flag and national anthem.

    We would have renamed it “Orangeland,” obviously.

    Dave (1bb933)

  39. That’s funny.

    DRJ (15874d)

  40. New York Daily News headline, Saturday, August 17, 2019:

    Fjord to Trump: Drop Dead.

    Sammy Finkelman (6a3404)

  41. Trump and Kudlow confirm Trump is serious about buying Greenland.

    DRJ (15874d)

  42. NY Post has it, too.

    DRJ (15874d)

  43. 41. It wouldn’t be the first time someone Trump tried to buy from told him to get bent.

    Gryph (08c844)

  44. Make them take Puerto Rico or no deal.

    mg (8cbc69)

  45. well it would be a pincer move, against further encroachment by the Russians in the arctic, follow the line from thule air force base over the polls, and you find yourself in western Russia, near Siberia,

    narciso (d1f714)

  46. When secretary of State James F. Byrnes in 1946 proposed to the Danish government at the United NAtions that the United States buy Greenland, NATO had not yet been founded.

    Sammy Finkelman (6a3404)

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