The Slatest

The Rise and Fall of Trump’s Greenland Fantasy Shows the Shelf Life of a Bad Idea

Aerial view of rivers of meltwater carving into the Greenland ice sheet near Ilulissat, Greenland.
Dreamland Greenland. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This is where we’re at, as a country. Again. Last week, reports emerged that President Donald Trump was interested in buying Greenland. An absurd idea, yes, but sadly less absurd—and more squarely within the bounds of the law—than many Trump master plans. But despite the digital reams of *serious* analysis and why not–ism, let’s not forget—it was never going to happen. Yes, the U.S. tried in the 1940s to pry the vast, desolate island away from Denmark for some cash, but even then Copenhagen rejected the idea. Yes, Greenland is extremely valuable strategically—from military positioning to the economics of its natural resources. In fact, it is likely more valuable now—and even more so in the future—as the world anticipates the impact of climate change. For all of those reasons, it’s easy to see why Greenland would be a valuable American territory. The problem? For all of those very same reasons, it is already an extremely valuable Danish territory.

So what are we even talking about? Was the president of the United States planning on going to Copenhagen and offering them a kajillion dollars? Was that a real idea? Is that how far out of touch this White House is with the reality-based world? Were they going to bring a suitcase of USDs as a good faith offering? Or were they going to use crowbars to try to strong-arm Denmark into coughing up a land mass the size of the Midwest? What was the plan? The obvious answer is: There wasn’t a plan. Or not a serious one. Hence, on Tuesday this:

That right there is the shelf life of a fantasy public policy idea. It gets batted around for a bit, with increasing excitement, by a group of underqualified, sycophantic advisers, who love it! The second it’s exposed to oxygen in the real world, however, it’s not only dismissed—but derided. As it should be. It’s not a real solution to anything. Finding real policy solutions to real problems in the real world is hard. It takes work and brains and commitment and time. So, let’s buy Greenland?