President Donald Trump has suggested that he is interested in acquiring Greenland from Denmark. Let’s explore why he has the world’s largest island is in his sights.
In an interview before he boarded Air Force One to the G7 summit in France, Trump stated his interest in purchasing the semi-autonomous state as it was “strategically interesting”, but played down his enthusiasm by describing the proposed deal as “not number one on the burner”.
Greenland has been owned by Denmark since 1814, but gradually gained more autonomy, most recently voting for self rule in 2008. The huge island, with an area of over 2 million squared kilometres, has a population of around 55,000 and its main exports are fish and crustaceans.
So what does Trump want from the hypothetical acquisition? The Financial Times drew up a humorous valuation with Trump’s perspective in mind and reached a conclusion of $1.1 trillion. This is in part due to Greenland’s high abundance of rare earth minerals, which are essential to many modern technologies, from iPhone cameras to wind turbines.
It is an area in which the USA is trailing behind China, who produce more than 70% of the global supply of rare earth minerals, and tightly control their exports to ensure the lucrative materials are kept firmly within their borders and their factories. Trump is considering every option to get ahead of his arch rival Xi Jinping, and it seems he has resorted to the absurd.
In terms of publicity, it has been an easy victory for Trump. His supporters will simultaneously love his entrepreneurial attitude and delight at how it riles up the mainstream media. He has launched an eye catching story destined to be ranted about on CNN for the next day or two by giving a short interview and tweeting a photo-shopped image of a Trump Tower on Greenland.
The chances of Trump actually going through with this deal are slim to none, especially with critics warning of a looming recession, and the Danes and the Greenlanders not even considering the idea. He made his thought process clear by describing the idea as a “large real estate deal”, showing once again his perverse inability to understand basic diplomatic etiquette – this isn’t Manhattan – it’s the world stage.
With this stunt, Trump has again shown his reckless tendency to deliberately provoke allies with outrageous rhetoric. He has long ago ripped up the rule book on how a President of the USA should act, but it has yet to be seen whether these empty distractions will aid his run for a second term or dramatically backfire in his face.
By Max Ingleby