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New Republic - August 16, 2019

Thursday afternoon, a curious item appeared in the pages of The Wall Street Journal. President Donald Trump, either as a joke or entirely seriously, is apparently weighing the prospect of the United States federal government purchasing Greenland.

This specific move is not unprecedented. Harry Truman waved $100 million in front of Denmark in 1946, and the State Department opened (and then closed) an inquiry into buying Greenland and Iceland in 1867. Be it Greenland or another part of the globe, the concept is, quite obviously, not a new one for the United States, or any major colonizing power; as a matter of fact, ‘buying,’ occupying, and poisoning land that does not truly belong to them is, historically, kind of their thing.

For its part, the Greenland government was understandably curt in its response:

Greenland is not for sale

... As always, deeply intertwined with the concern of encroaching on Indigenous peoples is the concern of environmental impact, specifically as it relates to climate change. Given that much of that autonomy is tied up in the economic boon of both natural resource extraction and clean energy production, the interest in Greenland by the U.S. is almost too transparently vile: As the arctic shelf recedes and the ice disappears, the major powers—backed by every major oil and gas executive—will seek to extract every ounce of liquid money that sits underneath the soil. Eventually, the well will be tapped and any faux goodwill the companies and the governments extended to the Indigenous people will disappear, along with the fleeting hope for a thriving existence.

This issue was at the forefront of the United Nations’ special report on Climate Change and Land, released ten days ago. While focused on areas in Africa, the study was done in coordination with the Indigenous populations (a.k.a. the people who will actually be first and most dramatically affected by the encroaching emergency). In doing so, the report laid out how the multi-pronged counterattack to climate change must be led by the major powers and energy companies, but also highlighted how crucial it is to encourage land management by Indigenous populations. Those people understand the land they live on not as an opportunity to stuff their pockets, but as a place to protect and preserve so that future generations can continue to share that same land.

Yes, the enormity and danger of this proposal are obfuscated by the involvement of Trump. But it’s disappointing how quickly journalists and pundits snapped into the rhythm of analyzing the president’s folly through the same lens that led to the destruction of this land’s Native nations and the places they try to protect. ...
Read full article at New Republic

Disappointing, but not surprising.