Why is it considered better that we liberal Danes run Greenland rather than the Americans? Is liberalism more effective at countering Russian and Chinese expansionist ambitions?
Gullible Danes, who are now smugly laughing off Trump’s offer, find Chinese commercial investment innocent because it does not make territorial claims explicit. And our pacifist vision for the territory is to let well-intentioned scientists dig for ice-core samples to figure out how the climate looked in the Jurassic age and mine the vast frozen island for stories about melting ice to frighten the world.
Handing Greenland to the United States is Denmark’s only chance to counter Russian arctic domination and Chinese ambitions. With Global warming opening up major sea lanes in the north, that will considerably reduce time and costs for commercial shipping as well as unleash a bonanza of untapped oil and rare metals riches. The addition of Greenland to US territory will enhance Denmark’s security and guarantee that Greenland’s resources are tapped to our benefit and not to that of China, who has been showing an increasing and keen interest in Greenland’s geological riches.
Greenland is a territory of enormous strategic importance. Truman acknowledged this when he sought to acquire the territory in 1946 for £80m ($100m) and Trump has only made explicit what US foreign policy experts have been advocating for decades. When the West’s Middle East ambitions imploded after the disaster in Iraq, many think-tankers began to explore the Arctic question. It is clear from the many papers written on this that it is a generation-defining issue.
Russia has already claimed ownership in the Arctic and strengthened its military presence greatly. It demands that freighters ask permission to use the Northern sea route and demands that Russian pilots are allowed on board. This is exactly what the Danish king used to do at Elsinore where tolls would be wrested from merchant vessels by training cannons at traffic on the sound. This extorted money funded the Danish empire.
As for the Greenlanders, among its 50,000 inhabitants, there has been a strong and growing independence movement fed by resentment of Danish colonial policies. The Greenlander union boss, Jess G. Berthelsen, famously said that he would rather shit in a bucket than take the yearly £400m lump sum from the Danish government. There is no doubt that there would be a majority for a US acquisition, if the price was right.
Even though we have jesters for kings now, the basic security structure remains the same. Putin and Xi are wolves let loose among the liberal sheep of the Arctic (Norway, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland). I would much rather entrust the security of my family to the capable force of the American military than to a rag-tag bunch of smug Danish liberals.
Thomas Vann Altheimer is a filmmaker from Copenhagen