Trump Is Reportedly Considering Buying the Largest Island In the World

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Posted: Aug 16, 2019 7:30 AM
Trump Is Reportedly Considering Buying the Largest Island In the World

Source: AP Photo/David Goldman

President Trump has reportedly raised an interest in purchasing the world’s largest island—Greenland.

The autonomous Danish territory, which is mostly covered in ice, is home to roughly 56,000 people.

The idea to purchase the land came up during a roundtable last spring when someone told him Denmark was in financial trouble over spending approximately 60 percent of its annual budget on subsidies to the island.

Since then, he’s discussed the possibility with advisers and asked his White House counsel to explore the matter further. Proponents of the idea have noted Greenland’s abundant natural resources and geopolitical significance, while critics have dismissed the possibility of purchasing it altogether, The Wall Street Journal reports.

U.S. officials view Greenland as important to American national-security interests. A decades-old defense treaty between Denmark and the U.S. gives the U.S. military virtually unlimited rights in Greenland at America’s northernmost base, Thule Air Base. Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it includes a radar station that is part of a U.S. ballistic missile early-warning system. The base is also used by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The U.S. has sought to derail Chinese efforts to gain an economic foothold in Greenland. The Pentagon worked successfully in 2018 to block China from financing three airports on the island.

People outside the White House have described purchasing Greenland as an Alaska-type acquisition for Mr. Trump’s legacy, advisers said. The few current and former White House officials who had heard of the notion described it with a mix of anticipation and apprehension, since it remains unknown how far the president might push the idea. (WSJ)

According to the Journal, the U.S. has twice failed in efforts to buy Greenland—the most recent attempt was in 1946 when President Truman offered to purchase it from Denmark for $100 million to no avail. Prior to that, in 1867, the State Department explored buying both Greenland and Iceland.

Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark next month in a trip unrelated to this matter. 

According to the White House, the trip to Denmark follows a stop in Poland where the president and first lady will attend 80th anniversary commemorations of the start of World War II. Trump will then meet with the Queen of Denmark to participate in bilateral meetings.