President Donald Trump’s reported wish to buy Greenland may have been rejected by Denmark, but it underscores the rapidly rising value of the massive, ice-covered island due to global warming and to China’s drive for an Arctic presence.
The accelerating polar ice melt has left sparsely populated Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, astride what are potentially major shipping routes and in the crosshairs of intensifying geopolitical competition between superpowers.
It also has untapped natural resources like oil, minerals and valuable rare earth elements that China, the United States and other major tech economies covet.
A Chinese government-backed group’s offer last year to build three new international airports on Greenland sparked alarms in Copenhagen and Washington.
The Chinese plan was finally nixed in exchange for Danish funding and a pledge of support from the Pentagon.
Trump’s idea to buy Greenland, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, “is not a serious proposal,” said Heather Conley, a specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
But, “The administration has awoken to the Arctic as a geostrategic issue,” she said.
– Strategic value since WWII –
Greenland has been essential to US defense since World War II when it was a base for monitoring Nazi ships and submarines passing through the “Arctic Avenue,” the sea gateway to the north Atlantic.
In 1943 the US Air Force built its farthest-north air base at Thule, Greenland.
Thule was crucial in the Cold War, a first line of monitoring against a potential Russian attack. With a population of 600, the base today is part of the NATO mission, operating satellite monitoring and strategic missile detection systems and handling thousands of flights a year.
“The early warning radar system in northern Greenland helps protect North America and is a key part of our missile defense apparatus,” said Luke Coffey of The Heritage Foundation.
“Luckily the US is able to ensure and meet its security interests by maintaining this air base in northern Greenland. There’s no requirement to buy Greenland to keep America safe.”
– ‘Aggressive’ China and Russia –
Conley said that after the Cold War ebbed in the 1990s, Washington stopped thinking about the Arctic.
Yet as the polar ice sheet began to shrink, the Russians became more active and China has moved to establish itself in the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscored the revived US interest in a speech in May in Finland, where he slammed China and Russia for “aggressive behavior” in the Arctic.
“The region has become an arena of global power and competition” owing to vast reserves of oil, gas, minerals and fish stocks, he warned.
“Just because the Arctic is a place of wilderness does not mean it should become a place of lawlessness,” he said.
But Washington has not taken many concrete actions, Conley said. Pompeo only offered that the State Department would position a diplomat in Greenland’s capital Nuuk for six months of the year.
“The rhetoric and the reaction — there is a very big gap,” she said.
– Arctic newcomer China –
With no geographical claim to the region, but whose massive commercial shipping industry would benefit from new polar routes as the ice melts, China is the newcomer whose presence could shift the balance.
It began sending scientific missions in 2004. In the past several years, a Chinese company has gained mining rights for rare earths, partnering with an Australian company in the Kvanefjeld project.
In January 2018 Beijing unveiled its “Polar Silk Road” strategy to extend its economic footprint through the Arctic.
To gain favor in Nuuk, the Chinese have wined and dined government officials, said Coffey.
“China’s role in the Arctic has been more about expanding its economic influence, soft power,” said Coffey.
“Ice melting is part of the interest, it is opening up new economic opportunities, but it’s also opening up challenges. The US is aware of that,” he said.
In a sign of Washington’s rekindled interest, US President Donald Trump will go to Denmark in September, and Vice President Mike Pence will visit Iceland.
But Conley says more assertive moves are needed.
“I think we have a remarkably strong position now in Greenland. Denmark is an incredibly strong military partner to the US,” she said.
“But if we are interested in potentially being an alternative to Greenland looking towards China for investment, are we going to put US investment there? I’ve not seen any of that.”
Why was Lev Parnas wearing a ‘Presidential Service Badge’ awarded to troops who serve in the White House?
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman posted a fascinating update about a photo of impeachment figure Lev Parnas.
The photo shows Igor Fruman -- who, like Parnas, is under federal indictment -- sitting closely next to Rudy Giuliani and Parnas.
Haber said a source informed her that in the picture, Parnas can be seen wearing a "Presidential Service Badge," linking to the Wikipedia entry on the pin.
"The Presidential Service Badge (PSB) is an identification badge of the United States Armed Forces which is awarded to members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other members of the Uniformed Services, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States," Wikipedia explained.
Trump’s big-money Florida fundraiser expected to bring in $10 million — from only 100 people
President Donald Trump flew to Mar-a-Lago on Friday after receiving a formal summons from the U.S. Senate informing him of his impeachment trial.
The president will be attending a Friday evening campaign fundraiser.
The recipient of the money is Trump Victory, which is a joint fundraising committee set up by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.
“Tonight’s Trump Victory fundraiser is expected to raise $10 million with approximately 100 people in attendance," the campaign told the White House pool reporter.
Lev Parnas has Trump ‘unnerved’: ex-FBI official says the president doesn’t know what he ‘has up his sleeve’
President Donald Trump is "very nervous" about what Lev Parnas may have on him, a former top FBI official suggested on MSNBC on Friday.
Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence was interviewed by MSNBC's Peter Alexander.
The host played clips of Trump denying any relationship with Parnas.
"Well, I don't know him, I don't know Lev Parnas, other than I guess I had pictures taken -- which I do with thousands of people," Trump argued. "I don't know him at all, don't know what he's about, don't where he comes from. I can tell you this -- I don't know him. I don't believe I've ever spoken to him. I don't believe I've ever spoken to him."