Thawing the tension: U.S.-Greenland relations and climate change (non)securitization

Date

2022-01-27

Authors

Crowther, Joe Edward

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Abstract

U.S. Arctic foreign policy and the U.S. influence on Greenland has been studied predominantly regarding U.S. military and defence concerns. However, during the Trump Administration, the U.S. Arctic foreign policy agenda significantly shifted, placing Greenland as an integral component of the 2017-2021 Republican administration’s Arctic geopolitical aspirations, and not only for defence purposes. I argue that U.S-Greenland relations were significantly impacted when President Trump offered to purchase Greenland from the Kingdom of Denmark in the summer of 2019. Following the offer, Greenland emerged as a focal point of the Trump Administration’s geopolitical and economic security interests in the Arctic. Consequently, Greenland finds itself at the centre of a complex Arctic arena, with vastly larger and more powerful states taking an interest in Greenland’s economic potential due to its natural resources. Nevertheless, Trump’s offer was highly problematic as Greenland is an Inuit nation with the political goal to become independent from their colonial ties with Denmark. Despite the offer causing initial outrage, U.S.-Greenland collaborative relations have only developed since. I analyze why this has occurred, conveying that the similar approaches of Trump and Greenland towards climate change created the possibility for the strengthening of U.S.-Greenland bilateral relations. Climate change threatens the Arctic, yet the melting ice also provides more accessibility to rich natural resources. Climate change therefore presents not only threats, but opportunities. Greenland has a right and desire to pursue economic development for a financially viable independence through utilizing carboniferous, extractive industries. The U.S. has also sought to utilize the economic opportunity that Arctic climate change presents but with different motives. The U.S. and Greenland have subsequently become interlinked in a complex Arctic constellation of foreign policy and economic opportunity. Regardless of changing approaches to climate change, the Trump Administration has significantly impacted the future of U.S.-Greenland relations and Greenland’s political future.

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Keywords

Climate Change, Greenland, Arctic, United States, International Relations, Economic, Geopolitics, Trump, Inuit, Naalakkersuisut, Kalaallit Nunaat, Ice, Oil and Gas, Minerals, Foreign Policy, Security, Securitization, Securitization Theory, States, International Law, Politics, Natural Resources, Independence, Indigenous Politics, Colonial, Economic Development, Obama, Biden, Denmark, Polar, Republican Administration, Inuit Ataqatigiit

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