Streetwise Professor

August 21, 2019

Crazy Like an (Arctic) Fox?

Filed under: China,Energy,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 5:38 pm

Donald Trump recently unleashed yet another tsunami of ridicule by suggesting that the US should buy Greenland, a Danish possession. There he goes again! The idiot! The fool! What a ridiculous idea!

Trump responded by pointing out that Greenland is a strategic place. And he’s right.

And you know who thinks it’s incredibly strategic?: Vladimir Putin, and the Russian defense establishment. Under Putin, Russia has poured extensive resources into an attempt to dominate the Arctic. It has been building bases in the region at a fevered pace, and is imposing restrictions on ships using the northern sea route. It is attempting to grab as much of the Arctic seabed as possible, because of the potential energy resources it contains. Putin himself has said the Arctic “the most important region that will provide for the future of Russia.” Putin wants to turn the Arctic into a Russian lake.

Further, the strategic importance of this region is greater, the more you believe in climate change, or the stronger you believe it will be. Considerable warming would turn the Arctic into one of the dominant shipping routes in the world.

So by expressing an interest in Greenland, Trump is making a move that poses a direct, and serious, threat to Russian interests. Replacing a geopolitical pipsqueak (Denmark) that has a seat at the table in all negotiations in the Arctic, and which cannot utilize Greenland for any military purpose, with Putin’s bugbear–the US–would be a real blow to him. In Soviet lingo, it would dramatically shift the correlation of forces in the Arctic. That’s a big deal. For Putin especially.

Greenland is also a potential source of rare earths, currently a Chinese near-monopoly (and one of their most powerful “trade war” weapons), so US control would be antithetical to Chinese interests as well.

The irony is just too, too much. I guarantee that those who are ridiculing Trump most intensely also believe absolutely that he is Putin’s puppet, and are also fervent believers in the existential threat of anthropomorphic climate change. Yet they are so blinded by their prejudices and obsessions that they cannot see that the latest object of their ridicule proves how unhinged they are.

I am sure Putin does not think Trump’s gambit is the least bit amusing. But I am equally sure that he takes great solace in the fact that–yet again–he can rely upon a cavalcade of useful idiots who will act in his interest by attacking Trump all the while believing that they are actually fighting against Putin.

The US military has been raising concerns about Russian initiatives in the Arctic for some time. Trump apparently has been listening, and has come up with an out-of-the-box, color-outside-the-lines idea that of course appears ludicrous to the dreary, narrow, conventional minds that inhabit the media, political, and government establishments.

If this indicates that Trump is crazy, all I can say is that we need more crazy. And now.

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  1. Not to mention Greenland would add a large area to the US’s exclusive ocean fisheries.

    Comment by Dave — August 21, 2019 @ 6:53 pm

  2. Anthropogenic climate change (not morphic). Look for a development there in the near future. Based in science, it is not.

    Comment by Pat Frank — August 21, 2019 @ 7:35 pm

  3. I also think Greenland has strategic and other value. However, why not negotiate seriously with the Danes for certain rights to use Greenland? What’s the strategic advantage – or Trumpian gambit of outright alienating the Danes on this? Since, they were not going to sell Greenland. How does this increase our bargaining position on Greenland?

    Comment by howseth — August 21, 2019 @ 8:38 pm

  4. @Pat–Just checking to see who is reading closely 😛 Actually, just a case of speed kills. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’ll change.

    Looking forward to the development. Mine was a conditional statement. Just pointing out that if you believe in it, you should believe that there is even more strategic logic behind Trump’s idea.

    Comment by cpirrong — August 21, 2019 @ 8:40 pm

  5. If we could buy Greenland, could we sell Puerto Rico?

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — August 22, 2019 @ 12:33 am

  6. Is there not one thing this man proposes or says which you won’t swallow without question?? Also, why buy it? What’s wrong with entering into a closer strategic alliance with Denmark? Perhaps it’s a little too close to Sweden for his supporters’ liking…

    I have to say the Danish PM’s slap-down – and Trump’s hissy-fit response – were a comedic highlight for me.

    Comment by David Mercer — August 22, 2019 @ 9:11 am

  7. The reaction in the press here (UK) taught me that many journalists have never heard of the Louisiana Purchase or the purchase of Alaska. Ignorant poltroons.

    It’s true that Trump seems to have been absurdly cack-handed in the way he went about it, but there you are. Once the Dems cooked their candidate selection for 2016 sensible people had little choice but to hold their noses and vote for Literally Hitler.

    Comment by dearieme — August 22, 2019 @ 11:21 am

  8. We should have bought the Baja in 1995, as was proposed here:
    And yeah, @I.M. Pembroke, sell PR for whatever it will fetch, or just cut it loose like the Philippines.

    Even without global warming, anthropogenic or otherwise, improved icebreakers, Russian nuclear-powered ones but also Chinese, will open the Arctic Ocean to warships and shipping. My guess is that its the Chinese that got Trump’s attention on the region. Of course, he came out with the proposal in typical Trumpian fashion, starting with a blunt statement that draws uninformed criticism from his enemies in the drive-by media, followed up only later by factual background that make his critics look stupid.

    Comment by M. Rad. — August 22, 2019 @ 5:53 pm

  9. It wasn’t that long ago that Canada was thinking of buying Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean:

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — August 22, 2019 @ 9:49 pm

  10. In this exchange, the Danish PM was exposed as an amateur, in over her head. Even Danes are upset with her.
    On a separate note, there was an explosion somewhere near our Thule airbase in very early August.
    It was reported that it was a meteorite. Hmmm.
    Sure it was.
    And shortly thereafter DJT raises the Greenland issue. No connection at all.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — August 23, 2019 @ 1:39 pm

  11. No even need to recall the Louisiana or Alaska purchases which happened long ago. It was the twentieth century when the same Denmark sold the same US not one island but almost the entire archipelago…

    Comment by Boris Lvin — August 26, 2019 @ 6:37 pm

  12. To all of you citing historical examples: Times have changed. You can’t just shift people and their land from one state to another anymore unless you have the agreement of those people. Also, my understanding is that Greenland would rather be independent, and not a vassal to yet another master (especially not one who might drag them into war).

    I usually agree that Trump is pretty good at seeing where his interests and his country’s interests (in that order) are best served, and so it is here. But the way he has gone about it is going to make it harder for him to pursue those interests…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — August 27, 2019 @ 3:42 am

  13. It does make one wonder how the US’s strategic/resource interests were served by this debacle, also what Plan B was or is. Perhaps annexation, although this may require the US to declare war on itself under Article 5 (not the Trump would be concerned with such minutiae)

    Comment by David Mercer — August 27, 2019 @ 7:32 am

  14. At the time, wasn’t the purchase of Alaska referred to as “Seward’s folly” ? — Seward being the Sec of State who negotiated the sale with Russia. I doubt that the 50th state is now regarded as a bad deal. It really doesn’t matter what Trump says or does, the media and the chattering class will condemn him.

    Comment by Ben — August 28, 2019 @ 9:41 pm

  15. @Ben-Yup.

    Comment by cpirrong — August 29, 2019 @ 6:08 pm

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