Talk of Greenland Purchase a Deterrent to China and Russia, Defense Expert Says
August 28, 2019
Greenland’s basket of economic and strategic benefits, particularly when it comes to military advantage, isn’t going unnoticed, with the likes of China and Russia showing increasing interest in the sparsely inhabited island.
The implications of these two countries attempting to boost their influence over Greenland is concerning to the United States, a defense expert said. Aside from Greenland’s strategic value with regard to its geography and positioning, the island also has an abundance of minerals and oil.
President Donald Trump’s idea to potentially purchase the island isn’t as audacious as it sounds, Peter Huessy, a senior defense consultant and director of strategic deterrent studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told The Epoch Times.
“If Greenland was like Guam, we could deploy offensive, conventional missiles in northern Greenland along the Arctic and we would cover a very large portion of Russia and China,” he said in a phone call. “That would act as an extraordinarily good deterrent against their use of ballistic missiles of any kind against the U.S. or our allies.”
There are also trading benefits. China sees Greenland as a possible source of rare earths and other minerals and a port for shipping through the Arctic to the eastern United States. It called in 2018 for joint development of a “Polar Silk Road,” as part of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, also known as Belt and Road) initiative to build railways, ports, and other facilities in dozens of countries.
“[China and Russia] hope to be like the Panama Canal, they want to be the gatekeeper for transiting the Arctic,” Huessysaid. “That has big implications for trade and commerce and economic issues. They are doing the same thing in the South China Sea.”
Trump’s recent talk about purchasing the island is sending a signal to the two countries to quiet their plans for expansion in the Arctic, Huessy said. Denmark essentially owns Greenland, which has a population of just over 56,000.
Strategically, Greenland forms part of what the United States views as a key corridor for naval operations between the Arctic and the North Atlantic. It is also part of the broader Arctic region and is considered strategically important because of its proximity to the United States and economically vital for its natural resources.
“It would be great if we could do all these things on our own and we wouldn’t have to go over to the Danish government to ask them,” Huessy said. “What Trump was doing was basically taking a shot at the Chinese saying, ‘Not so fast.’ He was basically throwing down a marker to the Chinese.”
“He thinks strategically and he also acts strategically and tactically,” he added.
Greenland is located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans and is dependent on Danish economic support. It handles its own domestic affairs, while Copenhagen looks after defense and foreign policy.
According to Huessy, Greenland would benefit significantly from being part of the United States, mainly economically. In 1946, then-President Harry S. Truman also pitched a plan to purchase Greenland.