In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Dan McGroarty puts the current controversy over President Trump’s quip about wanting to buy Greenland from Denmark in context.
Invoking President Truman’s offer to purchase Greenland in 1946 as well as Secretary of State William Henry Seward’s 1867 purchase of Alaska — for which he received much ridicule at the time (hence the term Seward’s Folly) — McGroarty argues that while “[a]pparently there’s something in the subject of Arctic land purchases that encourages levity” (…) “[t]here shouldn’t be.”
He recounts how Denmark came to control Greenland in the first place and explains why it has turned into a hot commodity (pun intended):
“the result of imperial expeditions that led to declarations of Danish sovereignty in the early 1800’s. As for buying Greenland, there’s no evidence the indigenous Inuit of that day were compensated.
Today’s interest in Greenland is what’s beneath the ever-shrinking icecap, as Earth’s temperature warms: Known resources of at least eight metals and minerals – taken as individual elements, including the rare earths (REEs) and platinum group metals, that’s 29 elements in all, nearly 1/3 of the naturally-occurring elements in the Periodic Table. That gives Greenland, soon or sometime in the future, a foothold as a major metals supplier to the 21st Century Tech Revolution.
And while the U.S. most emphatically may not be purchasing Greenland, that’s not to say other interested parties aren’t already buying up strategic bits of real estate.”
McGroarty goes on to give examples of China’s “economic diplomacy” in Greenland, a topic we previously explored on our blog as well. His conclusion underscores the significance of the region and the need for more active engagement.
“In other words, Greenland may not be for sale, but its resource riches surely are. From Truman’s offer to Trump’s Tweets, Greenland is a hot property. Surely, Secretary Seward would have understood.”