Donald Trump seems to have an obsession with Greenland, that giant frozen island near the North Pole, between North America and Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports. More specifically, the president has repeatedly expressed a desire to have the United States purchase the island in what sources close to Trump describe as a move to cement his presidential legacy akin to Eisenhower ratifying Alaska as a state.
According to the Journal, Trump has repeatedly mentioned—sometimes jokingly—his desire to purchase Greenland, a self-ruling country within the Kingdom of Denmark, to numerous associates and advisers. From WSJ:
At a dinner with associates last spring, Mr. Trump recounted that someone had told him at a roundtable that Denmark was having financial trouble over its assistance to Greenland, and suggested that he should consider buying the island, according to one of the people.
“What do you guys think about that?” he asked the room, the person said. “Do you think it would work?”
The person described the question less as a serious inquiry and more as a joke meant to indicate “I’m so powerful I could buy a country,” noting that since Mr. Trump hadn’t floated the idea at a campaign rally yet, he probably isn’t seriously considering it.
But two advisers speaking to WSJ claimed that Trump asked his White House counsel to look into acquiring the island, which is home to a population of just 56,000 people, in addition to vast natural resources. As of yet, it’s unclear how a country would even go about purchasing Greenland, whose foreign and national security policy is determined by Denmark.
Although Trump has reportedly brought up his desire to acquire Greenland with more frequency, his aides are reportedly divided as to how seriously to take him. Although some advisers are said to encourage Trump, telling him that purchasing the island would be good for expanding the U.S.’ military presence in the region, the WSJ reports that a few “current and former White House advisers” who have heard mention of Trump’s plan “described it with a mix of anticipation and apprehension.”
As absurd as this plan might sound, Trump isn’t the first president to have designs on Greenland. Harry Truman tried to buy the island from Denmark for $100 million in 1946 and got shot down.
Of course, it’s possible Trump just wants to buy Greenland because it’s the largest island (that isn’t also a continent) in the world.
UPDATED 8/16 10:19 a.m. ET
It’s unlikely that the president will end up acquiring Greenland, per a statement from the island’s foreign minister. Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters: “We’re open for business, not for sale.”
Greenland Member of Parliament Aaja Chemnitz Larsen tweeted a statement that translates to: “No thanks to Trump buying Greenland! On the contrary, a better and more equal partnership with Denmark should be the way forward for a stronger and longer term free Greenland.”