The current prime minister of Denmark had expressed the hope that President Trump’s idea to buy Greenland from Denmark was merely some sort of joke. Clearly Trump was not joking however, as he announced on Twitter that he would be cancelling his trip to Denmark, planned for early this September, over Prime Minister Mette Frederisksen’s assertions that Greenland was not only not for sale, but that the idea of selling it was “absurd”. Of course this visit was not planned to be about buying Greenland, rather about tending the U.S.-Denmark relationship as allies, but apparently buying Greenland was the only value Trump saw in having the visit, so he cancelled it, saying he was postponing it, but without giving any new date.
Trump’s impulsive behavior has yet again had the effect of alienating one of our allies. A number of former Danish officials, who likely felt that ‘former’ status gave them the room to speak freely, lambasted Trump’s decision, according to The Hill, variously describing Trump’s decision as “grotesque”, as creating “total chaos”, and as the result of Trump having a “hissy fit”. Trump had tweeted last evening that, “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.” Somewhat bizarrely, Trump also thanked Frederiksen for being direct, tweeting, “….The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” Again, there are no indications that Denmark believed the subject of this meeting with Trump to be the potential sale of Greenland – only Trump seems to have had that as his focus. According to The Hill:
Several former Danish diplomats slammed President Trump after he pulled out of a meeting with Denmark’s leaders after the prime minister made clear Greenland is not for sale. … “Total chaos with @realDonaldTrump and cancellation of state visit to Denmark. It has gone from a big opportunity for strengthened dialogue between allies to a diplomatic crisis,” (former Danish Prime Minister Kristian) Jensen tweeted. “Everyone should know Greenland is not for sale,” he added, echoing remarks made by Greenland’s foreign minister last week. Former Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard told a Danish broadcaster TV2 that Trump’s behavior is “grotesque” and he was “throwing a hissy fit.” …Trump was scheduled to visit Denmark on Sept. 2 following a trip to Poland. He was expected to meet with the queen of Denmark, other leaders and business officials, as well as Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who called the idea of purchasing the world’s largest island “absurd.”
Current Danish officials also criticized Trump’s decision to cancel his trip to Denmark, using somewhat less intense language than the former officials quoted above. A spokesperson for the Danish royal palace expressed surprise at Trump’s decision. Morten Østergaard, the current leader of the Danish Social Liberal Party underscored the damage to the ally relationship between Denmark and the U.S., saying, according to The Hill, that Denmark “now more than ever should consider [fellow] European Union countries as our closest allies”, as opposed to the U.S.
Trump keeps showing that he does not understand the importance of maintaining relationships with our allies. Suddenly pulling out of a meeting with Denmark because they refused his untenable notion of buying natural-resource-laden Greenland just makes Trump appear both petty and willfully ignorant of how the world, and diplomatic relations, work. As Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said when Trump first floated the idea, according to The Hill, “Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. …I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant.” Unfortunately, Trump did mean it, and apparently saw it as the only value to his going to Denmark in early September.