Trump's Irresponsible Insulting of Denmark the President's Daft Behavior Poses a Real Risk to America's Relations with Vital Scandinavian Allies

By Simpson, Dan | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 28, 2019 | Go to article overview

Trump's Irresponsible Insulting of Denmark the President's Daft Behavior Poses a Real Risk to America's Relations with Vital Scandinavian Allies


Simpson, Dan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Why alienate the Danes, their leaders or their people?

President Donald J. Trump has done just that, for no good reason. He said that he wanted to talk to Denmark about the United States purchasing Greenland. When Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen responded that the island was not for sale and that the very idea was "absurd," Mr. Trump canceled his scheduled visit to Denmark and insulted Ms. Frederiksen, characterizing her comments as "nasty."

The United States already has strategic access to Greenland. Denmark is a member of NATO and apparently still welcomes our use of Thule Air Base and other installations there. Greenland also has considerable mineral wealth, and there are few barriers to American companies investing in its exploitation. This will be even easier as Greenland becomes increasingly accessible as the ice on and around it melts due to climate change. There is no indication that Mr. Trump and his government have any concern for Greenland's environment, melted or frozen.

So what's this about? Does Mr. Trump simply want to buy something for the United States while he is president, or to try to improve his chances of being elected to a second term? These chances are sagging as the economy slows with tariffs, growing budget deficits and national debt.

His approach to Greenland as a sort of global gentrification project is unlikely to provoke any response from the American people apart from mystification and humor. Even the purchase of Alaska, a state which is nice to have, was described at the time as a "Seward's Folly," a jab at then-Secretary of State William Seward for blowing $7.2 million on its frozen acres.

I suppose this is normal behavior for a Queens real estate man, but the proposal makes most people think of what else can be done with the money needed to buy, thaw, develop and defend Greenland, if it were even for sale. What it may really mean is that Mr. Trump's ability to think has not advanced beyond real estate deals in the New York boroughs (an especially terrifying thought when one thinks that the president is expected to handle the effects of his tariff wars on the global economy). …

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