So, Denmark has been a bit in the new lately. First there was some minor coverage of the fact that Trump was going to visit the country in early September. Later the coverage became much more massive, because Trump stated that he was going to ask Denmark to sell Greenland to the US. This idea was rebuffed by the Danish PM, who in a Danish newspaper called the idea “absurd”, and pointed out that we are past the time where countries sell other countries and populations. Trump didn’t take this rejection kindly, and he cancelled the visit, calling the Danish PM (or perhaps her choice of words) nasty.
It is rare for world leaders to actually say what they think about Trump’s ideas, so this has gotten a lot more coverage than Trump’s usual inept foreign blunders – see e.g. Washington Post’s <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/21/foreign-leader-finally-said-what-she-really-thought-about-trumps-ideas-trump-clearly-didnt-like-it/?fbclid=IwAR1l5cOU1jlN7_XYR_QTX7svegFXJmjlKHh_fc0zHMQI8wxFaVPpVxF-4aA” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>A foreign leader finally said what she really thought about Trump’s ideas. Trump called that ‘nasty.’</a>
Unsurprisingly to most people outside Trump’s election base, the Danish PM’s answer to Trump is deeply popular among people from Denmark and Greenland.
It is popular for several reasons, one of them the simple fact that she was entirely correct in calling the idea absurd. It is correct because asking Denmark to sell Greenland is similar to asking England to sell Scotland – they are two distinct territories within the Kingdom of Denmark, and Mette Frederiksen is only the PM of Denmark, not Greenland.
Denmark does, however, hold a lot of power over Greenland, and in theory, it could happen that Denmark decided to ignore the autonomy of Greenland, and sell it, but as Mette Frederiksen said, the time for that kind of behavior is long past. Also, Greenland matter a lot for Denmark and the Danish’s view of their importance in the world.
To make clear how unpopular the suggestion, and later reaction by Trump was, I present you with this tweet, by the conservative politician Mai Mercado
The US is a very special country with incredible people, but based on President @realDonaldTrump comments on buying Greenland, Denmark will gladly be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for… well, until another President takes office…. #dkpol #notarealestatedeal
— Mai Mercado (@_MaiMercado) August 21, 2019
The Conservatives are in opposition to the current government, and generally don’t go out of their way to back up the Danish PM. They are also generally very pro-USA, and more or less consider Ronald Reagan a patron saint. And Mai Mercado is not just any member of the Conservatives – she is one of the leaders.
Not surprisingly, Trump reacted to the rejection by trying to bully Denmark and the Danish PM
For the record, Denmark is only at 1.35% of GDP for NATO spending. They are a wealthy country and should be at 2%. We protect Europe and yet, only 8 of the 28 NATO countries are at the 2% mark. The United States is at a much, much higher level than that….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
This prompted an reaction by Lars Løkke, the former PM of Denmark, and the biggest rival to Mette Frederiksen.
And – as i told You at the NATO Summit in Bruxelles last year – we have had (proportionally) exactly the same numbers of casualties in Afghanistan as US. We always stands firm and ready – so we will not accept that our defence willingness is only about percentages.
— Lars Løkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) August 21, 2019
Now, because some of the people involved are sane adults, there is an attempt to normalize the relationship, but I think that Trump won’t be able to invite himself to Denmark anytime soon.
One note about the attempt to normalize the relationship – some have tried to downplay the usage of the word “absurd”, claiming that it has a less strong meaning in Danish than in English. That is to some degree true, but not in the situation where Mette Frederiksen used it. And it was an absurd idea.