Its foreign and security policy is handled by Copenhagen. During last spring's exchange with advisers, Trump reportedly got the idea after hearing that Denmark was having financial problems because of the subsidies it pays to Greenland. According to the Journal, Greenland relies on $591 million of subsidies from Denmark annually, which make up about 60% of its annual budget. The U.S. already has an airbase in Greenland, which is part of a state-of-the-art ballistic missile early warning system and satellite tracking system. It has also, in the past sought to derail China's efforts to make its mark on the independent territory.
In 2018, the Pentagon, alarmed at the news China was looking to finance the building of three airports on the ice-covered land, managed to block the move. The US, along with its allies offered alternative funding options to Greenland in an effort to dissuade it from an expensive deal with China. Concerns were centered around whether the aid-dependent government could afford a large loan from China, and if it failed in its efforts to repay it, could lead to China taking control of the runways, bringing in warplanes, creating new shipping lanes and gaining access to a wealth of resources in the Arctic. This would undoubtedly post concerns in a nation, such as the United States, which as is frequently noted, is concerned with maintaining its global influence and military and territorial might - in particular against the two other great military powers, China and Russia.
As the Foreign Policy journal writes, 'Russia and especially China are the only two countries that could plausibly take over and hold the territory of Washington’s allies and partners in the face of US resistance'. If either of the other two global powers ever gained the upper hand, it could see the balance of power shift. Such a shift could see China gain greater control over the economically dynamic area of the Western Pacific and could open Eastern Europe up to Russian control. While it remains unclear if Trump's comments around buying Greenland are more than just a show of might in front of the other global powers, there are a number of reasons the territory could be proving attractive to the US President.
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The island's natural resources, spread across 811,000 square miles, could also be one of the key attractions for the president. As the climate heats up and the arctic caps melt there has been widespread interest in what is thought to be a rich potential of mineral and energy resources - iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare-earth elements, uranium and oil.
Research shows Greenland has been melting faster in the last decade and this summer, it has seen two of the biggest melts on record since 2012. Both warmer air and warmer water are eating away at Greenland, causing it to lose billions of tons of ice daily in the summer. And while a team of scientists and engineers are only just dropping probes into the ice to help figure out which is the bigger cause, water or air, one thing is certain, less ice could make the ability to uncover sub-earth treasures more feasible. With less ice, access to this rich pool of resource beneath the land could become easier - making Greenland a territorial interest for the global powers.
Greenland is a self governing territory of Denmark so ultimately the Danish Parliament would have to decide and they could mandate a plebiscite of Greenland's inhabitants. It could depend on how lucrative the American offer is for the island. 56,000 residents could become very wealthy.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan