Maybe Trump thinks world domination is like Monopoly or Ticket to Ride. He wants to buy Greenland? BUY Greenland? In 2019. The colonialist mentality just doesn’t end, does it?
Does President Trump know that nearly 90% of Greenland’s population is Inuit (similar to what non-Inuit Americans call Eskimos). Does President Trump know that these Greenlanders have lived there for 5000 years? He thinks maybe he’ll buy their homeland for the U.S.? Would the Inuit, the Greenlanders, be part of the package???!
Colonizers throughout the centuries have taken land that they coveted for their economic or strategic value: natural resources, strategic location, and/or native people to enslave or put into servitude for economic gain. Or maybe just to beat their competitor to the punch when they were unsure if there was any real value, just in case. In times gone by, those colonizing countries acquired new territory by a variety of methods, including through military force and through trading acquired territory with each other as the outcome of wars and treaties. And, yes, territory was bought and sold. Some examples of purchases are the Louisiana Purchase, Alaska (Seward’s Folly), and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In a fairly typical treaty outcome, the Treaty of Paris in 1898 that ended the Spanish-American War gave Cuba its independence, while Spain ceded the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States for the sum of US$20 million. I wonder what the citizens of those countries thought of all this.
Notice that in virtually every situation you can think of where colonizing countries acquired new territory, there were people living in these lands whose ancestors had been there forever. People indigenous to the land. Their rights, their possessions, their ancestral land, their very existence, were never of any consequence to the conquerors. They were merely an inconvenience to be dealt with, usually in a way that was anything but humane.
For the most part, an unwritten consensus has been reached now whereby these previous modus operandi are no longer considered acceptable. When grievous actions arise – and, sadly, they do – the UN issues a condemnation and the world takes note. One recent example is the UK’s “ownership” of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, which Mauritius claims as part of its territory. The UK has chosen to ignore this claim, although unanimously endorsed by the UN, choosing instead to kick the Chagossians from their homeland – deport them – so that they can lease the island to the US for their armed forces base. The only votes against the UN resolution were the UK and the U.S. Surprise, surprise.
But the UK’s sense of continuing “ownership” of a former colony is a holdover from a former time, and is not being well received. The UK would be well served to give the Chagos Islanders their land back so they can return home, and instead concentrate on how they plan on keeping their primary United Kingdom territory intact in the quagmire called Brexit.
There are many reasons why the U.S. might be interested in having control over Greenland. Greenland is rich in natural resources and is also very strategically located, especially as the Arctic warms up. Of course, the Arctic is warming up faster than anywhere else on the planet because of the pollution and greenhouse gas buildup emanating from countries to the south. And as it warms up, not only will the Arctic Ocean be more accessible, the massive Greenland ice sheets will melt faster, releasing all kinds of fresh water, another valuable natural resource. So President Trump isn’t foolish in hankering for U.S. control of Greenland.
But he is harking back to the time when the rich and militarily powerful could just take what they wanted and treat the spoils as they wanted, and no-one would say a thing. The only consequence back then would be further wars with other powerful nations. By suggesting he could buy another country – and its people – for the U.S., he is reminding us all that this is the way he thinks. (And maybe he should remind himself of how he wishes no-one had ever acquired Puerto Rico all those years ago.)
Instead of the rich and powerful deciding on how the earth’s resources are going to be divvied up, with no input from the rest of us,
it’s time for “the meek shall inherit the earth” to gain some traction.
Photo credits: Jane Fritz