In response to reports that President Trump has repeatedly inquired about the prospect of the United States buying the world’s largest island, Greenland — an idea raised by at least two other administrations in the past — the government of the autonomous Danish territory of just over 56,000 people offered a succinct statement: “Greenland is not for sale.”
The response was first reported by CNN, which also cites a “local Kulusuk resident” who assured the network that it’s “not gonna happen” and notes that it isn’t the first time that America has eyed buying the massive, militarily strategic island. “They tried to buy us in 1867, during Second World War, and now they are trying again,” he said.
All the buzz about Trump wanting to buy the resource-rich and strategically located island began Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that two White House advisers told the paper that Trump has inquired about the U.S. purchasing the island on multiple occasions.
“In meetings, at dinners and in passing conversations, Mr. Trump has asked advisers whether the U.S. can acquire Greenland, listened with interest when they discuss its abundant resources and geopolitical importance, and, according to two of the people, has asked his White House counsel to look into the idea,” the Journal reported Thursday.
Sources say that during a dinner last spring, Trump said he that he was told that due to Denmark’s financial struggles connected to its ownership of Greenland, he should look into purchasing it. “What do you guys think about that? Do you think it would work?” he reportedly asked the room.
The Journal reports that Trump’s aides have had mixed responses to his talk about buying the self-ruled territory, some dismissing it as a Trumpian whim and others agreeing that it would be a sound move economically.
The military significance of the island to the U.S. traces back half a century to the 1951 Defense of Greenland Agreement between the U.S. and Denmark, which states that “armed forces of the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization may make use of facilities in Greenland in defense of Greenland and the rest of the North Atlantic Treaty area.”
As detailed by the Journal, the treaty gives the U.S. military “virtually unlimited rights in Greenland at America’s northernmost base, Thule Air Base.” Thule is a key part of the U.S.’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, which can detect missiles launched deep inside Russian borders. “The base is also used by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command,” the Post notes.
At least two previous adminstrations have also eyed the self-ruled Danish territory. President Harry Truman reportedly looked into acquiring it before the defense agreement back in 1946, though, as noted by CNN, he “dodged questions about his pursuit of control in the region.” A century earlier in 1867, Secretary of State William Seward also looked into the prospect of purchasing the island.