In a recent move, President Trump attempted to acquire Greenland; an independent area under Denmark. However, Danish politicians unanimously said they have no interest being part of Donald’s real estate deals. They are only open for business, not selling part of their territory to the United States.
This is not the first time America has tried to buy Greenland. Andrew Johnson mooted the first attempt in the 1860s. However, nothing ever happened until Harry Truman decided to offer Denmark $100 million in 1946, which they gladly declined.
The reasons for Trump’s interest in the island are quite unclear. But look closer, and you’ll see that Greenland is rich in minerals such as coal, zinc, copper, iron ore, uranium, diamonds and gold. Not to mention abundant fisheries and a good view of Russian missiles.
The minerals sit under a three km deep sheet of ice, but scientists say this situation is temporary. The melting ice is opening new ship routes and uncovering more resources; things can only get better for Greenland.
The island also has a tremendous national security value to the US, thanks to its strategic location. The US military has been operating an airforce and radar base on the island since the Cold War.
The US also thinks China’s interest in the arctic might undermine international rules and norms. The Asian country tried to buy a former American base in Greenland. However, the Danish authorities refused to sell and even sent sailors to live on the station as a precaution. In 2017, China tried to build three airports there.
This interest has got the US and her allies concerned. That is part of the reason why America wants to own the entire island.
Is Buying Territories Still a Viable Option?
Acquiring territories, in the past, was common and acceptable. The most popular way to obtain land was through military conquest and financial deals. For example, the US bought 2.1m sq km from France for $15 million in 1803. They also bought Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million.
Today, this practice has basically dried up because countries can get whatever they want without needing to expand their territory. Besides, bartering people is not an option anymore.
History of the US Military in Greenland
In 1941, Denmark agreed to let the US army set up shop on the island. Soon after, America constructed the Thule base, which was officially opened in 1952. The airbase is responsible for monitoring polar-orbiting satellites and controlling the GIUK; a maritime choke-point between Greenland, Iceland and the UK.
It is not the cushiest place to be, as it’s locked for nine months a year, and soldiers have to deal with polar bears.
What Does Greenland Think?
People living in Greenland are not particularly interested in becoming part of the US. Danish citizenship comes with more advantages over the US, including free universal healthcare.
The local residents dream of breaking away from Danish rule at some point, but they want an independent state. The only thing holding them back from pushing in that direction is the simple fact that they can’t really foot their bills.
Denmark has to top up a considerable chunk of their budget. Mostly because they depend on fish exports, plus they are an isolated region with a population of only 50000 people.