Quantcast
Connect with us

Greenland isn’t for sale but it is increasingly valuable*

Published

on

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.”

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Ex-prosecutor demands congressional investigation after latest report on the FBI and Brett Kavanaugh

Published

on

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had another allegation of sexual misconduct revealed on Saturday in a bombshell report in The New York Times.

"A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly," the newspaper reported.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Boris Johnson promises Britain will be like the Incredible Hulk during Brexit negotiations

Published

on

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday he was making a "huge amount of progress" towards a Brexit deal with the EU, in an interview in which he compared Britain to the Incredible Hulk.

"It's going to take a lot of work between now and October 17" when EU leaders gather for their final summit before Britain's scheduled exit from the bloc, he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"But I'm going to go to that summit and I'm going to get a deal, I'm very confident. And if we don't get a deal then we'll come out on October 31."

His comments came ahead of talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Luxembourg on Monday.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

NYT blasted for ‘spectacularly offensive sentiment’ after tweet illustrating ‘rape culture’

Published

on

The results of a 10-month investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly was published on Saturday.

But attention was taken away from the powerful reporting after the Twitter account of The Times opinion page posted a shocking message.

"Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun," read the tweet.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image