The idea that the United States might purchase Greenland has been called “comical,” “imperialistic,” even “unthinkable” since President Trump floated it a couple of weeks ago. Greenland is part of Denmark and the Danish Prime Minister found the idea “absurd.”
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen points out some of the advantages this purchase could bring. We don’t need a military base in Greenland, we already have one, Thule Air Force Base, the US Air Force’s northernmost facility. But a really good reason to buy Greenland would be for its rich stores of minerals, resources Denmark has not been able or willing to exploit: including zinc, lead, gold, diamonds, copper, and uranium. Greenland is also attractive because of its rare-earth elements, which, Mr. Thiessen writes, “are critical to the production of everything from electric cars to smartphones and lasers.” Currently, China supplies us with many of these elements, but we could easily be cut off due to our trade dispute. The Chinese are trying to corner the market for Greenland’s rare-earth minerals. Buying Greenland would put us in control of these strategically important minerals.
Greenland’s primary value to the United States, though, would be to provide a sea route in the Arctic. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently stated: “steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.” He says this “could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days.” Secretary Pompeo pointed out that these emerging sea lanes in the Arctic “could become the 21st-century Suez and Panama canals.”
Buying Greenland would also be advantageous militarily, serving to elbow out China and Russia, both of whom have aggressively targeted the Arctic with bases, scientific research stations, and strategic investments.
And Greenlanders would benefit economically. The US can afford to do much more than Denmark can to develop the island.
Buying Greenland is actually a great idea.