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Friday, 30 August 2019

Greenland

In 1664, the Netherlands and England swapped the rights to New Amsterdam (renamed into New York) for the rights to Surinam and "the island of Run in the East Indies". In 1803, the US bought the Louisiana Territory from France. In 1867, the US bought Alaska from the Russian Empire. In 1917, the US bought the Danish West Indies. In 1946, the US offered to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100,000,000 but Denmark refused to sell it (Wiki).

Given the US history of buying foreign territory, their renewed proposed purchase of Greenland makes (some) sense. Greenland is of strategic geopolitical interest to USA. This explains the presence of the American Thule Air Base on Greenland.

Moreover, America is worried about Chinese activities on Greenland, like Chinese mining for minerals (and/or arctic access), a Chinese satellite ground station project in Nuuk ("the capital and largest city of Greenland"), and - last but not least - China's Arctic Policy:
"A major component of this plan is to build a Polar Silk Road, a network of trade routes through the Arctic to help expedite global shipping delivery" (Wiki).

Greenland is "an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark". Wiki: "Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium".

The Danish refusal to sell Greenland should be viewed in today's views on citizen's rights. The inhabitants of Greenland would need to be offered (at least) 4 choices through a referendum: (i) independence from Denmark, (ii) no change and thus remaining part of Denmark, (iii) sale to USA, (iv) sale to another party (eg, China, Russia).

Such a referendum would cause financial, political and (cyber) security and social issues given the importance of what is at stake. For instance, who would be entitled to the proceeds of the sale: Denmark, the Kingdom of Denmark including Greenland, or just Greenland? This wealth distribution might cause long court battles.

Suppose the outcome of a Greenland referendum is like Brexit: 51.9% in favour of independence, and 48.1% against (BBC). Possibly, a similar chaos would emerge as has happened in the UK, ever since the Brexit referendum outcome.

The Danes were smart to quickly refuse Trump's "offer" and contain the fallout. This allows them to manage the future independence of Greenland.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004) by Green Day


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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