In a previous post, I mentioned how Anthony (‘The Mooch’) Scaramucci, Donald Trump’s short-lived communications director, is convinced that Trump’s mental state is deteriorating. As if on cue, Trump this week provided him with a huge piece of evidence in support of his thesis. I am talking about the bizarre Greenland episode.
Greenland is described as an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark with a devolved parliament. What this means, as far as I can tell, is that while technically not an independent nation, it has almost all the powers of one. It has a very small population of about 56,000, about 88% of whom are Greenlandic Inuit or Inuit-Danish mixed. Its land area is about 2.17 million square kilometers, roughly the size of Saudi Arabia.
When Trump tweeted that he wanted to purchase Greenland, the announcement was greeted with widespread mockery. I assumed that he was not serious and that this was just another one of his patented ploys to distract the media’s attention from some bad news that was about to come down. The prime minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen also seemed to think this was silly and that Trump was joking, calling it an “absurd discussion”. Given Trump’s contempt for non-white people and how the US has treated indigenous populations, I am sure that the people of Greenland were less than thrilled about the possibility of being bought by the US
I assumed that this would soon fade from the news once Trump had once again achieved his goal of getting people to talk about something insubstantial. But no, he seemed to think that he had made a real proposal and was seriously miffed that Frederiksen had dismissed his idea, so much so that he has cancelled a state visit to Denmark that was due in early September.
In a tweet on Tuesday evening, the US president said that since the prime minster had “no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland”, he had decided to postpone their meeting.
“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,” he said.
By Tuesday night, the meeting was officially off. “At this time, the visit to Denmark is canceled,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told the New York Times.
The change of heart comes after Trump’s proposal to buy Greenland was widely written off as unfeasible and unwelcome. Local residents have called the idea “crazy” and “patronizing”.
Frederiksen, who has been visiting the island to meet its premier, Kim Kielsen, told reporters on Sunday that Greenland could not be sold because it did not belong to Denmark.
“Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant,” she said.
During her trip to Greenland, the Danish prime minister said she hoped it was time to leave the joke behind.
“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States,” she said.
It is clear that Trump’s decision to cancel the visit was due to him feeling insulted that his proposal was being treated as a joke.
Trump told reporters at the White House later: “I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was an absurd idea was nasty.
“It was not a nice way of doing it. She could have just said no, we’d rather not do it. She’s not talking to me, she’s talking to the United States of America. They can’t say: ‘How absurd.’”
This is not the behavior of an adult. It is that of a spoilt child who is throwing a tantrum because he has been refused a shiny new toy.
Cancelling a state visit at such short notice is serious business, only done in emergency situations. That Trump would do so after suddenly floating what Frederiksen rightly described as an utterly absurd proposal and then having it rejected, shows that there is something seriously wrong with him. More and more people are openly saying that there is something weird going on with him.
Politicians from across the spectrum were united in their condemnation. “There are already many good reasons to think that the man is a fool, and now he has given another good reason,” Eva Flyvholm, the foreign policy chair for Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance, told Danish media.
Villy Søvndal, a former foreign minister, said the decision “confirms that Donald Trump is a narcissistic fool”.
Søvndal told the Danish newspaper Berlingske that Trump’s decision showed he was unaware of the basic rules of diplomacy. “If he had been a clown in a circus, you could probably say that there is considerable entertainment value. The problem is that he is the president of the most powerful nation in the world,” he said.
People in the US are saying similar things, even if they are not willing to go on the record.
It’s Year 3 of Donald Trump’s presidency, and his behavior in office isn’t getting better.
Instead, it’s getting worse.
This is no way to run a country. Or to talk about its citizens. Or to treat an American ally.
Everyone who works in Washington knows this. Staff members at the White House know this. Top officials inside the Republican Party know this.
The evidence cannot be denied. Trump is in some sort of mentally disturbed state. What can be done about it is not clear.