President Trump canceled a trip to Denmark this week because they won’t sell Greenland.
It wasn’t actually for sale. And, turns out, it wasn’t a joke.
The entire proposition is now being met with consternation and mocking. And rightly so.
Danish lawmakers reacted in fury to Trump postponing his two-day visit in early September after Denmark’s prime minister — unequivocally — said she was not interested in selling him the self-governing island of Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark.
Danish parliamentarians and former government ministers slammed the president’s behavior as juvenile, undiplomatic and insulting, though the government itself has yet to comment on the visit’s cancellation.
“It’s an insult from a close friend and ally,” Michael Aastrup Jensen, a member of the Danish parliament with the influential center-right Venstre party, told The Washington Post. He said Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland took the country by surprise and was initially widely considered to be a joke, before Danes realized the full extent of “this disaster.”
They thought it was a joke. Because it feels like a joke. Or, perhaps, fake news.
And yet —
Danish lawmakers justifiably felt misled and “appalled” by the president, who “lacks even basic diplomatic skills,” Jensen said. “There was no word (ahead of time) about: ‘I want to buy Greenland, and that’s why I’m coming.’”
On Twitter, Denmark’s former business minister, Rasmus Jarlov, wrote: “For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for.
“Please show more respect,” he added.
The president announced the postponement of his visit via Twitter on Tuesday night, writing that Denmark is “a very special country with incredible people,” but added that he had postponed his meeting with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen after she said “that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland.”
“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct,” Trump wrote. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
Maybe not a sale, exactly. Frederiksen noted how vast Greenland’s natural resources are, saying the Arctic’s exploitation by Russia and others for commercial purposes “is becoming increasingly important to the entire world community.”
“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States,” Frederiksen added.
Trump told reporters that owning Greenland “would be nice” for the United States strategically. Though Greenland was initially not publicly cited as a scheduled topic during his visit to Denmark, the postponement of that trip over resistance to his acquisition plans now suggest that it was Trump’s central focus in the first place.
The big question is why? Is Trump talking militarily? Natural resources? Fresh water (to accommodate the heating up of the planet that he denies is happening? Or to water the greens at Mar-A-Lago?)
“Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism,” Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet. “We’re open for business, not for sale.”
Trump loves a large real estate deal. “A lot of things can be done,” Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey on Sunday.
Trump’s desire to buy Greenland was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Two people with direct knowledge of the directive told The Washington Post that the president has mentioned the idea for weeks, and that aides are waiting for more direction before they decide how seriously they should look into it.
Interestingly, after World War II, President Harry S. Truman’s administration offered to purchase the country from Denmark for $100 million. The U.S. military had a presence in Greenland during the war as a means to protect the continent if Germany tried to attack.
Apparently, it’s not easy being Greenland.