Maybe instead of a library (he was never much of a reader), President Trump is hoping to build a presidential memorial golf course instead. Whatever the reason, WSJ reports that President Trump has expressed interest in buying the island of Greenland, and has discussed the prospect with several senior officials in his administration.
Of course, Greenland’s name is famously a misnomer: the frigid island is situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and is covered in snow during most of the year. In other words, not exactly the ideal location for a memorial golf course.
But Greenland is a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark with a population of about 56,000. Incidentally, President Trump is scheduled to make his first visit to Denmark early next month, and, although the visit is unrelated, the people of Greenland have been joking that Trump is coming to see about buying their island.
As it turns out, it wasn’t a joke. At a dinner with associates last spring, two WSJ sources said Trump recounted that someone had told him at a roundtable that Denmark was having financial trouble over its assistance to Greenland, and suggested that he should consider buying the island
“What do you guys think about that?” Trump asked the room, the person said. “Do you think it would work?”
The person described the question less as a serious inquiry and more as a joke meant to indicate “I’m so powerful I could buy a country,” the WSJ goes on to note – even though the same WSJ reports that Trump’s purchasing intention was serious enough to merit top page one placement – noting that since Trump hadn’t floated the idea at a campaign rally yet, he probably isn’t seriously considering it. The person believed the president was interested in the idea because of the island’s natural resources and because it would give him a legacy akin to former President Dwight Eisenhower ’s admission of Alaska into the U.S. as a state.
To be sure, there would be certain advantages to owning Greenland, the two main ones being military and scientific. A decades-old defense treaty between Denmark and the US gives the military virtually unlimited rights. America has used those rights to build its northernmost base, Thule Air Base, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The base includes a radar station that is part of an ICBM early warning system. The base is also used by the US Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
There is also – not surprisingly – a race for supremacy with China over the island’s future. So far, Washington has prevented Beijing from financing three airports on Greenland that would give it a toehold on the strategically important island – which is also the world’s largest by square mileage – something the US military refuses to risk. And though it has vast natural resources across its 811,000 square miles, Greenland relies on $591 million of subsidies from Denmark annually, which makes up about 60% of its annual budget.
To be fair to Trump, US interest in owning Greenland dates back more than a century. After WWII, Harry Truman offered Denmark $100 million for the island which, though it’s technically part of North America, is culturally European. The Kingdom refused. The State Department also explored buying Greenland and Iceland in 1867, but nothing came of it.
It would be a funny coincidence if, after making his name as a developer on Manhattan, perhaps the world’s most famous island, Trump cemented his legacy as a president by buying Greenland, the world’s biggest island.
Or perhaps Trump only became president to land the world’s biggest real estate deal?
Finally, for those asking what’s the tentative price for this particular real estate…
If you have to ask, you can’t afford it…
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) August 15, 2019