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Why America should absolutely buy Greenland

The Week logo The Week 8/16/2019 Matthew Walther
a cartoon of Donald Trump: President Trump and Greenland. © Illustrated | lantapix/iStock, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Michael Burrell/iStock President Trump and Greenland.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Never say that Donald Trump has no ideas. He's actually full of them, and many are interesting. Is there really a single red-blooded American who doesn't want us to be the first country with a Space Force? (This, I think, explains why so many fans of Andrew "Legion of Builders and Destroyers" Yang are former Trump supporters.)

The president's latest scheme is reportedly buying Greenland. This is, in fact, a brilliant idea. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is simply that Greenland is an impossibly cool place. It is the world's largest island. It has glaciers, whales, walruses, polar bears, and the mighty musk ox. They also have the Slædepatruljen Sirius ("Sirius Sled Dog Patrol"), an elite naval reconnaissance unit that is one of the hardest special forces in the world to join. The warriors of the Sirius Patrol are required to have world-class expertise in an unbelievably long list of military, technical, and other skills, including sewing. Tell me you don't want the United States to have something like this.

Then there is the climate angle. The only real upside to melting Arctic ice is the increasing accessibility of various resources: oil, zinc, lead, iron ore, even gold and diamonds. If the worst-case climate change scenarios don't pan out, well, that would be a relief; but if they do, why shouldn't Americans be the ones to lead the world in 21st-century polar mining? In the meantime, Greenland remains one of the most important locations in the world for climate-related research. Having it would be the ultimate "Heads I win, tails you lose." Heck, as some wags have suggested, Trump could just call it the "Green New Deal."

But there are other, more important strategic reasons for making Greenland a U.S. territory. (Anyone who has played Risk will know what I am talking about.) If you want to preserve the territorial integrity of the Americas, Greenland is an absolute must-have; at present, thanks to a Cold War-era treaty with the Danes, we have pretty much unfettered military access to the island. But, as in Latin America, the Chinese are buying their way in anyway. Only last year the Pentagon managed to shut down China's attempt at financing three airports in the region. They aren't going to stop. "We're open for business, but not for sale," Denmark's foreign minister said Friday. Under globalized capitalism, those are the same things.

All of these things have been recognized for a long time, which is why Trump is not the first person to propose buying the island. The U.S. State Department looked into it as early as 1867; Harry Truman offered Denmark $100 million for it in 1946. (What a perfect beginning that would have been to the Cold War.) As recently as 1996, buying Greenland, along with much of Canada and Baja, Mexico, was a cornerstone of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign. Turning North America into a single multi-ethnic superstate — we could call it the "Empire of Guadalupe" — has always been our esoteric destiny. Nabbing Greenland would be an important step in the right direction.

So the real question is not whether we should buy Greenland. It's how. So far the Danes are insisting that they are not interested in a sale. We should remind them that they are spending $600 million a year to subsidize the fantasy that the most remote part of North America is actually European. We should also offer them an absolutely ridiculous amount of money — paying off their entire national debt, a match of whatever their GDP is for the next 20 years, the rights to the next five Super Bowls, Trump's second-favorite son changing his name to "Erik." As far as the Greenlanders themselves go, they could get the Armageddon deal: no taxes ever, for the rest of their lives.

No one is going to feel bad about the price tag in 50 years when Helge Damsgaard and her Sirius Patrol shield-mate Kaj Knudsen successfully defeat Russian forces off the coast of Uunartoq Qeqertaq armed with only a pair of laser axes.

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