The Slatest

Donald Trump Kinda Sorta Wants the U.S. to Buy Greenland

A church and a cluster of colorful buildings near a rocky beach.
A church in a small village in Ilulissat, Greenland.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Here’s a loco Trump idea that is relatively benign by current presidential standards: Donald Trump kinda sorta wants the United States to buy Greenland! The president of the United States has mentioned forking over some USDs for the autonomous Danish territory to advisers on multiple occasions, the Wall Street Journal reports. It’s unclear how serious Trump is, but the Journal’s reporting says the idea has been conveyed with “varying degrees of seriousness.” Meaning: Soon Trump will be mentioning it on the stump and blaming Obama for not buying Greenland.

But how serious is Trump about the idea? “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 reports. “Some of his advisers have supported the concept, saying it was a good economic play, two of the people said, while others dismissed it as a fleeting fascination that will never come to fruition. It is also unclear how the U.S. would go about acquiring Greenland even if the effort were serious.” Sounds like some classic Trump spitballing. That was apparently enough for the idea to get elevated to the White House counsel’s office, which, CNN reports, was tasked with investigating the possibility.

The Journal reports that Trump’s interest in the strategically important landmass was piqued when he was told at a roundtable that Denmark was struggling under the financial weight of supporting the sparsely populated territory. The island of 56,000 inhabitants derives 60 percent of its annual budget from the Danish government to the tune of $591 million annually. The U.S. has actually offered to buy the territory before, but President Harry S. Truman’s 1946 offer of $100 million for the ice-covered landmass was rebuffed. It’s not exactly clear how much it would cost today, but it would certainly be a lot. Chock-full of natural resources that will surely become even more valuable as climate change advances, the self-administered territory’s location places it squarely in U.S. national security interests. The U.S. already uses it as a military weigh station on the back of a postwar defense treaty between Washington and Copenhagen.

So will we get a 51st state? Seems far less likely than Donald Trump melting a few glaciers for a golf course at Trump Hotel Nuuk.

Update, Aug. 16, 2019: Denmark is not impressed!

“It must be an April Fool’s Day joke … but totally out of season!” former Denmark Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen responded on Twitter.

“If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad,” a foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party told a local broadcaster. “The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous.”