Paul Kilfoil's World of Travel, Technology & Sport

Posted on  by Paul Kilfoil.
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So Donald Trump wants the United States of America to buy Greenland from Denmark ... yes, you read right, the unpredictable, often incoherent but never dull president of the USA suggested in August 2019 that the most powerful nation on Earth simply purchase a huge tract of land (the largest island on Earth, in fact) from the country that has "owned" and governed it since 1814. Denmark's president, Mette Frederiksen, has called the notion "absurd", even though this kind of massive "land swop" transaction has been done before - in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the USA for 7.2 million US Dollars. In a fit of pique, Trump cancelled his planned state visit to Denmark in September because Ms Frederiksen had "no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland" [Aside : Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark].

The settlement of Sermiligaaq in south-eastern Greenland

This may seem like just another bizarre and ridiculous idea from the most bizarre and ridiculous president ever voted into power by the idiotic American voters, but the odd thing is that the notion of buying Greenland is not new. Harry Truman, president of the USA during World War II, expressed a desire in 1946 to acquire the island for 100 million US Dollars, and even earlier attempts to buy the island can be traced back to 1867. China put forward a proposal in 2018 to build new airports and mining facilities on Greenland, and the escalating trade war between the USA and China has only made the island's strategic location even more attractive to both sides. The melting of the ice cap surrounding the northern parts of Greenland due to global warming has also opened up new sea routes in these formerly impassable waters.

But that's not all - Greenland is rich in natural resources, virtually none of which have been exploited. Many industrial nations would dearly love to get their hands on the vast deposits of uranium, zinc, copper, iron and rare-Earth metals (such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium) that lie buried beneath the permafrost of Greenland's unpopulated northern interior ... but luckily Denmark is one of the more environmentally-responsible countries on Earth and is having none of it. "Greenland is not for sale" said Danish president Mette Frederiksen. "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously."

But Donald Trump has not given up, and seems to think that the agreement dating back to 1950 which allows the United States to maintain military bases on Greenland gives him some bargaining power. Trump responded to questions by saying "We protect Denmark like we do large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, certainly. Strategically it's interesting. It's essentially a large real estate deal."

Throw Russia into the mix, with another megalomaniac in charge (Vladimir Putin), and you have the three most powerful countries in the world hungrily eyeing a fragile and pristine piece of land ... for the sake of Greenland's unspoiled environment and its 56 000 indigenous (mostly Inuit) citizens, let's hope Denmark can remain firm in its commitment to leave Greenland alone.

  © Paul Kilfoil, Cape Town, South Africa