Apparently everything starts out as a joke for President Trump (take a trip back memory lane and think of when he joked about running for president) – and then, once there is pushback, he decides that he’s serious about his outlandish claims and pursues them.
In anticipation of his trip to Denmark, which was to take place on September 2 and 3, a Trump ally told the Associated Press that the President had discussed the purchase of Greenland, the semi-autonomous Danish territory, but was not serious about it.
Of the potential purchase, President Trump eventually said, “strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that.”
Greenland, in turn, said that it was not on the market. Specifically, the government of Greenland said, “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.” The Prime Minister of Denmark echoed the sentiments of Greenland, calling Trump’s statements about the potential purchase “absurd.”
It was only a matter of time before Trump’s comments about buying the 2 million square mile country came in for ridicule. Trump himself joked about his proposal by tweeting a photoshopped image of one of his TRUMP towers hovering over a small town in Greenland.
However, on Tuesday, Trump’s tone changed. He took to Twitter again and abruptly canceled his visit to Denmark. Specifically, he wrote: “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”
Danish Prime Minister Frederiksen said she was “disappointed and surprised” by U.S. President Trump’s decision to cancel his visit to Denmark after she rejected suggestions of selling Greenland to the U.S.
On his part, Trump said that the Prime Minister’s comments were “nasty” – adding, “You don’t talk to the United States like that, at least under me. I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”
Let’s forget for a minute that the President’s statements of wanting to buy Greenland probably started out as a joke. Could it really be that Trump’s ego is that big that he couldn’t face the (female) Prime Minister of Denmark after she called his outlandish idea to buy a semi-autonomous country “absurd’?
He called off a high-profile diplomatic meeting – creating a potential diplomatic row with an ally – over something that apparently wasn’t “No. 1 on the burner”? Furthermore, it’s not Denmark’s decision whether Greenland gets bought;
Greenland is not Danish the way the President believes. Greenland is an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark; it has limited autonomy through its own legislature which controls most domestic policies, so Greenland essentially belongs to Greenland and its 50,000 inhabitants – it is Greenlandic.
No nation has bought a chunk of territory from another country since 1917, when the United States bought the U.S. Virgin Islands from (coincidentally) Denmark. Before then, the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia in 1867 and Louisiana from France in 1803. The only other country to engage in this sort of transaction has been Canada, which bought Rupert’s Land from the Hudson Bay Company in 1868.
It’s safe to say that a lot has changed since then. As Prime Minister Frederiksen said, “thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.” Greenland was not looking to become the modern-day Louisiana Purchase.
President Trump thinks he can buy anything – and then when he realizes he can’t, he acts like a spoiled child. Perhaps this can work in the real estate world, but not in diplomacy. Treating a nation and its people like a piece of land and chattel makes the U.S. look foolish and certainly does not win us any advocates.
This whole mess, which at first glance looks like a story straight out of The Onion, makes you wonder if there is another explanation for Trump’s erratic behavior – perhaps President Trump realized that his planned trip to Denmark fell on Labor Day weekend. He may have needed a quick excuse to bail so that he could spend the weekend on the golf course and this was his easy way out.