Tue, 17 Sep 2019

Trump Not First US President Who Wants Greenland

Voice of America
17 Aug 2019, 04:05 GMT+10

WHITE HOUSE - The government of Greenland is dismissing the idea that the island is for sale, following media reports that U.S. President Donald Trump has been discussing interest to purchase the Danish territory with White House advisors.

But this is not the first time the U.S. has considered to purchase the massive ice-covered island.

William Henry Seward, President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State in the 1860s proposed both the purchase of Greenland and Iceland when he was negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

A report commissioned by the State Department of the following Andrew Johnson administration concluded that Greenland's natural resources would make it a valuable investment.

And in 1946, after World War II, President Harry Truman offered to $100 million to buy Greenland for its geopolitical strategic importance, which Denmark declined.

Not for sale

On Friday, the Greenland official government website posted this comment:

"We have a good cooperation with USA, and we see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer. Of course, Greenland is not for sale. Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the Government of Greenland has no further comments."

Meanwhile Greenland's foreign ministry tweeted that they are "open for business, not for sale."

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that Trump has discussed the purchase with "varying degrees of seriousness."

According to the article, people outside the White House have described purchasing Greenland as an Alaska-type acquisition for Mr. Trump's legacy, advisers said.

The White House has not commented on VOA's query on this issue.

Greenland details

Greenland is an autonomous Danish territory, located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The island territory is politically and culturally associated with Europe but the majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors began migrating from the Canadian mainland in the 13th century.

Greenland became Danish in 1814, and was fully integrated in the Danish state in 1953.

Greenland's location makes it absolutely vital to the defense of North America and the Trump administration should increase its focus on building relations, writes Luke Coffey of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation.

"Greenland does not receive attention from American policymakers in proportion to its security importance to the U.S," says Coffey who is advocating for a formal American diplomatic presence there for national security, economic and energy security reasons. "This is particularity important at a time when other global actors, such as China, are becoming more involved in the Arctic region," he added.

In 2018, the U.S. blocked China from financing three airports on the island.

Currently the U.S. northernmost military base is the Thule Air Base, located on the northwest coast of the island of Greenland. The base part of a U.S. ballistic missile early-warning system, also used by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Twitter fodder

Many took to mocking the idea of purchasing Greenland on twitter.

David Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser in the Obama administration, tweeted "If the U.S. actually could purchase Greenland, as POTUS has suggested, would he rename it Trumpland? #Branding"

Danish politicians including former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also dismissed the idea. "It must be an April Fool's Day joke...but totally out of [season]!", he tweeted.

Previous purchase

The U.S. purchased the territory now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1916, under the Treaty of the Danish West Indies.

The territory consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, which have become major tourist destinations.

The islands are considered a U.S. unincorporated territory, an area controlled by the U.S. government but where the U.S. constitution only partially applies.

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