If this sounds a little mad, that’s because it is.
As Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Centre for Politics, pointed out, the President of the USA is snubbing a long-time ally yet during his time in office has cosied up to dictators – such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.
We pamper North Korea but snub #Denmark. I really didn’t see this coming.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) August 21, 2019
So whats really going on here?
Last week reports surfaced that Trump had floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark. It was widely dismissed as yet another headline-grabbing stunt from the US president.
But this all changed on Tuesday night when the president announced the cancellation of a scheduled meeting with Denmark’s prime minister.
Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
Could Trump really want Greenland that much?
On paper at least, purchasing Greenland does make sense. The ice sheet covering the country is melting and this presents huge opportunities for mining precious resources such as gold and rare-earth metals such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium.
These materials are all crucial in the manufacture of modern electronics and China has been at the forefront of mining them across the globe.
The US has until now been fairly relaxed about this but Trump’s trade war with China means they may no longer be a reliable supplier of such materials.
In short, purchasing Greenland would make the US less reliant on China.
Greenland’s position near the Arctic also means it is a strategic point from which to explore and exploit more of the polar region as ice sheets continue to melt due to global warming.
But doubts about what’s really going on have been raised, including by Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, who asked in a tweet on Wednesday morning: “Unanswered question: What’s the real reason Trump didn’t want to go to Denmark that he’s blaming on the Greenland thing?”
Unanswered question: What's the real reason Trump didn't want to go to Denmark that he's blaming on the Greenland thing?— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 21, 2019
One of those who replied was David Frum, who served as speechwriter and special assistant to President George W Bush.
He suggested the real reason Trump was postponing his trip to Denmark is because it would come just a few weeks before another visit by Barack Obama.
Why does this matter?
Trump is infamously thin-skinned – this is the man who within hours of taking office, sent out his hapless press secretary to insist, against all evidence, that the crowd at his inauguration was the biggest ever – period.
And Trump’s international popularity ratings have remained stubbornly low throughout his presidency.
Obama on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish. A YouGov poll based on data collected between June 2018 and June 2019 found he is the most popular and most famous politician in the world.