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Hands Off Greenland

Greenland. Not too long ago, this was a glacier (Dolzhenkov Pavel/Shutterstock)

Paul Musgrave explains why the U.S. shouldn’t want to buy Greenland even if it were possible:

Greenland is no longer a colony to be disposed of as the government in Copenhagen wishes. Today the Danish doctrine of the “Unity of the Realm” holds that Greenland forms an integral part of the three-country Kingdom of Denmark. To put it bluntly, selling off Greenland would be as unthinkable as the US selling off Hawaii or Delaware.

Even if country-selling were legal generally or specifically, the United States shouldn’t be in the business of engaging in the trade – however much Washington has treated Greenland as a colony in the past.

The news that the president had entertained the idea of trying to buy our far northern neighbor has occasioned a lot of well-deserved mockery and scorn. Danish politicians have had a field denouncing it:

Martin Lidegaard, senior lawmaker of the Danish Social Liberal Party and a former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal” which had no basis in reality.

“We are talking about real people and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he told Reuters.

Musgrave goes beyond the usual mockery to spell out why it is a very bad and dangerous idea. Put simply, our government shouldn’t be engaging in the practice of buying and selling territories and sovereignty, and doing this ignores the self-determination and preferences of the people that live in these territories. The idea goes against basic respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country that is being treated as if it were an item to be bought. The notion of buying Greenland is ridiculous, and the entire discussion surrounding it as if it were a legitimate possibility is absurd, as Denmark’s prime minister recently said. The fact that Trump apparently thinks it is worth considering reminds us that his worldview is a narrow, mercenary one in which other countries are there only to be exploited and threatened.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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