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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Greenland Will Help Make America Great Again.

President Trump hasn’t forgotten about the sparsely populated island.

In his 2019 State of the Union address, Trump delivered the unforgettable line, “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

What do great nations do? They bring out the best in others—not altruistically, but synergistically, through the pursuit of their own strategic interests.

What do great nations do? They bring out the best in others—not altruistically, but synergistically, through the pursuit of their own strategic interests. That is precisely the direction that President Trump is headed with regards to Greenland when he authorized a $12 million investment in the world’s largest island to develop a “sustainable” economy.”

Just eight months ago, all the usual media personalities derided and mocked the President when the press leaked his ambitions to purchase Greenland. “We could move one of the Red Sox spring training camps there,” Joe Scarborough said on his MSNBC morning show, “and, I don’t know, maybe, I don’t know, maybe move a AAA team, there’s so many opportunities there.”

No one is laughing now—especially since the investment has prompted Greenland’s prime minister, Kim Kielsen, to say the $12 million gift “confirms that our work on building a constructive relationship with the United States is fruitful.”

President Trump’s move to invest $12 million in Greenland’s economy is a substantial step to securing America’s strategic interests on the mineral-rich island. But, in order to follow through, the United States must redirect its resources away from unstrategic, endless wars, and focus on President Trump’s America-first vision for U.S. foreign ambitions.

Greenland.

Greenland.

GREENLAND’S STRATEGIC VALUE

The strategic importance of Greenland, a territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, has been well understood for over 100 years. The U.S., under President Harry S. Truman, even offered $100 million for the land in 1946.

With the recent trend of ice sheets melting in Greenland, there are the makings of lucrative mining opportunities. Beneath the continental glacier of ice is soil that holds the second-largest deposit of rare-earth metals and oxides, vital for production of solar power, wind turbines, and electric cars. There is also what’s believed to be the sixth-largest deposit of uranium in the world.

Greenland is 836,300 square miles. Its acquisition would be a historical event unlike anything witnessed since our country’s third president Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase.

Rare-earth minerals are necessary components of more than 200 products across a wide range of applications, especially high-tech consumer products, such as cell phones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and flat-screen monitors and televisions. In addition to their commercial value, they hold significant defense applications, such as guidance systems, lasers, radar, and sonar systems.

President Trump is also keenly aware that the potential deal could also assist Denmark, a U.S. ally and NATO member. Governing Greenland is “hurting Denmark very badly because they’re losing almost $700m a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss and strategically for the United States it would be very nice and we’re a big ally of Denmark, we protect Denmark and we help Denmark and we will,” the President said last August.

Developing and stimulating the natural resource economy in Greenland would also improve the lives of the roughly 60,000 residents there, especially given that 16.2% of them who live below the poverty line.  Liberated from a restrictive, socialist state like Denmark, and incorporated into the U.S. federal system, their local control would increase substantially while they flourished under new trade and security benefits.

It’s important to note that not securing our interests in the region comes at grave a cost—and not just to our economic security. Greenland sits in the Arctic Circle, a region with land held by eight countries (including Russia). Professor Walter Berbrick, founding director of the U.S. Naval War College’s Arctic Studies Group, called Greenland “the most important strategic location in the Arctic and perhaps the world.”

Just ask Russia and China, which are making their own strides there—threatening America’s position in the Arctic. In 2013, China became an observer state of the Arctic Council, which is made up of the U.S., Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, and governs development issues and territorial rights as the polar ice recedes. Beijing’s claim to being a “near-Arctic” state was disputed by state officials, who have “found this disconcerting because of the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] behavior outside the Arctic; it often disregards international norms, as it has in the South China Sea.”

Greenland is 836,300 square miles. Its acquisition would be a historical event unlike anything witnessed since our country’s third president Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase. The U.S. hasn’t had such a diplomatic presence there since 1953—although it has maintained its northernmost military base in northeast Greenland for the last 77 years.

President Trump, as a former real estate tycoon, understands growth—winning as survival. What made America great was this kind of attitude toward expansion, its “manifest destiny” as it’s been called. The President could revive that spirit by expanding our sphere of influence to Greenland. It wouldn’t require a cultural revolution or regime change—just the economic and military power of the U.S. to open and secure access for more freedom in that stagnant Arctic land.

President Trump.

President Trump.

A NEW ERA IN FOREIGN POLICY

The general challenge of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy ambitions has been to resist getting bogged down in foreign interventions, like his predecessors, while still exerting American predominance and interests around the world. He has rightfully rejected the neoconservative and Clintonian (neoliberal) drive of expansionism through regime change wars.

The fatal mistake would be if Trump assumed that he, or any president, could juggle an international race to Greenland’s resources and endless interventionist wars at the same time.

It’s important to realize that an America-first foreign strategy will end up up a tragic waste of time unless President Trump puts a stop to never-ending military missions like the ones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. As President Trump is well aware, over $6.5 trillion has been spent on the war on terror so far. The President must realize what else could’ve been accomplished with the taxpayers’ money.

In addition to the more well-known war theaters, the United States currently has CIA or military boots on the ground in Chad, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Tunisia. The strategic gains from these conflicts are marginal given the cost in blood and treasure being bogged down in these “hell holes.”

The fatal mistake would be if Trump assumed that he, or any president, could juggle an international race to Greenland’s resources and endless interventionist wars at the same time.

Wall Street estimates the price of the island to be $533 billion, while the Washington Post puts the estimate as high as $1.7 trillion. Not only would those funds have to be secured, but to make military use of the island would mean a shift in deployments, adding additional costs for new military infrastructure.

Fortunately for Trump, he’s got the American people on his side, especially against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden when it comes to foreign policy. But the President shouldn’t take that vote for granted.

Barely a quarter of Americans agreed that military interventions make America safer in a poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in September 2019. In a more recent poll, conducted by Concerned Veterans for America, 73% of veterans said they would support removing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan; 71% of veterans said the same thing about Iraq. Relatives of veterans closely mirrored those same polling patterns.

The same poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, shows that Americans increasingly support the U.S. taking a more active role in global affairs—but in a way that doesn’t embroil us in perpetual war.

The fact is that President Trump’s foreign policy efforts have not been an unqualified success thus far. The Afghanistan war lingers on, despite attempted peace talks with the Taliban, and there are U.S. troops in Syria—the bulk of whom are North and South Carolina national guardsmen—guarding oil fields for some unclear reason. President Trump isn’t blinded by anti-interventionist ideology—meaning the threat of war looms.

In order to deliver his 2016 campaign promises, and boost optimism towards our global standing, President Trump should continue to redirect our foreing policy efforts to projects like the Greenland purchase—projects that signal a positive, substantial shift in U.S. foreign policy.

Written By

Gavin Wax is president of the New York Young Republican Club, chair of the Association of Young Republican Clubs, digital director of the Young Republican National Federation, and an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.

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