Trump peeved he can’t buy Greenland


EVEN those who have quietly reveled in the way that Donald Trump has trashed the political and diplomatic norms of the US establishment will have probably caught their breath this week over the President’s hissy fit about Greenland.

Trump has canceled an upcoming state visit to Denmark after the government there refused to consider selling its vast dependent territory of Greenland to the United States. The idea itself is not outlandish. In the past America has bought Florida and New Mexico from Spain, Louisiana from France and most famously, Alaska from Russia. The last has vast oil reserves conservatively valued at $200 billion.

Since 1834 Washington has been considering buying Greenland, the world’s largest island, which is 80 percent covered in ice. In 1946 President Harry Truman offered Denmark $100 million for the territory. Its strategic significance is obvious. But since the World War I, the United States has maintained a key airbase at Thule. It is also reported to have dumped nuclear waste deep in the ice sheet, which may now represent a problem since global warming is bringing about a steady melting of what was once assumed to be a permanent safe covering.

Trump clearly intended to talk about purchasing Greenland during his Danish visit next month. As is his way, he telegraphed his intentions. This brought an immediate rejection, not just by the Danes but also from the local government of the 55,000 Greenlanders. A Danish opposition leader even went so far as to call Trump “mad”. Perhaps in the president’s mind, this was just another property deal and, as he did when he was building his real estate business empire, he was prepared to play hardball walk away if a counter-party prove reluctant. But then Denmark is not a business and there is far more at stake in the minds of most Danes than a considerable lump of US taxpayers’ cash. Their country has long, historic links with Greenland, which are demonstrated by the fact that Copenhagen provides fully two-thirds of the funding necessary to maintain Greenlanders, the majority of them native Inuits.

This week Trump has also roared against American Jews who are committed to the Democrats. He said their political allegiance demonstrated "either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty". He cannot understand this. He doubtless believes that given his own slavish pro-Zionist policies, shifting the US embassy to Jerusalem, signing off on illegal Jewish settlements and cutting off financial and physical support to the Palestinians, US Zionists ought to be flocking to the Republican party. Given this record, it is blatantly absurd that Trump should be labeled anti-Semitic for his comments about the Democrat affiliation of US Zionists. The Jewish Democratic Council of America thundered that the president was trying to "weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism" for political gain.

The Democrats have become Janus-faced over this. Despite their strong Zionist caucus, they are defending the two newly elected Democrat Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, whom Benjamin Netanyahu, encouraged by the Trump White House, last week blocked from visiting the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Both politicians are highly critical of Israel and its suppression of the Palestinians. Parlous though Trump’s dangerous support for Zionism may be, at least the president is not guilty of inconsistency.