Imagine you are Greenland. You are a semiautonomous nation, part of Denmark, doing your Greenland thing with your clusters of colorful houses and glaciers and hot springs when suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a geopolitical controversy courtesy of President Donald J. Trump, who, in the words of one waggish poster on The Hill, is now up to the Louisiana Purchase in the manual on how to be el presidente.
Perhaps the president was thinking of Thomas Jefferson’s 1803 purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, which doubled the United States, or the Alaska purchase of 1867 or President Harry Truman’s overture to buy Greenland for $100 million in gold in 1946 — yeah, I’m sure he was thinking of all of this — when he floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark.
Greenland responded with a mixture of anger, indignation, consternation and humor — essentially thanks, but no thanks — that sparked creative overdrive, including this reworking of a classic Daily News headline, “Fjord to Trump:: Drop Dead.”
On this side of the Atlantic, too, critics wondered if this was the latest deflection from the Deflector in Chief, who was coming off a disastrous couple of weeks (his self-aggrandized response to the Dayton and El Paso shootings, the stock market bouncing around like a knuckleball again).
But there is a method to his madness. China is making inroads in Greenland. China is making inroads everywhere, thanks to Trumpet’s “Keep America First” policy, the irony of which is that in order to be first we have to stay in the global game. But instead of engaging, we keep detaching. Witness Trump’s tepid response to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that has drawn bipartisan support from Congress. But Trump has boxed himself into a position in which he has to thread this needle carefully if he wants to make a tariff deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping. For Trump, human rights are nothing where money is concerned.
He certainly knows how to speak up, however, when it suits his agenda. Israel was all ready to welcome Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — one half of the quad that makes up the so-called “Squad” — when Trump tweeted that “they hate Israel,” and the invite was rescinded. (The Somali-born Omar and Palestinian-descended Tlaib — who are both Muslims — are certainly pro-Palestinian.) The idea of a president of the United States pressuring a foreign ally to rescind an invitation to two representatives is unprecedented, Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, told PBS’ “Washington Week.”
What’s even more amazing is that such strongmen as Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can become so unglued by two freshman congresswomen. But that’s the Squad for you. Like Trump, its members know how to grandstand and get under your skin. Tlaib’s invite was reinstated so she could visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, but she decided not to go under such restrictive circumstances, which makes her look either like a principled heroine or a manipulative martyr.
It’s too bad. Politics should not trump family. But if Tlaib is still looking to get away, I hear Greenland’s nice this time of year.