We Are All Denmark!
A property king’s guide to U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century.
August 20, 2019
Donald Trump’s suggestion to potentially seek to acquire Greenland from Denmark has truly astonished the world. It seems there are no boundaries of imagination for the current U.S. President to stay in the global headlines at each and every moment.
Already, there are intense intellectual debates about the potential motivation behind that proposed real estate move. While the Danish government has firmly rejected any such approach, one could argue that the idea as such is, for Mr. Trump, an amazingly anti-Russian move.
After all, the obvious strategic purpose of such a contemplated transaction is not to build golf courses and Trump condo towers, as the island gradually falls to global warming and regains the essence of its name (“Green” land).
Others, such as the Fletcher School’s Daniel W. Drezner, have taken Trump’s idea one step further, by suggesting for the U.S. government to make a friendly takeover bid for Canada.
But even that idea was topped by a retort that suggested that politically a reverse takeover of the United States by Canada would be much more advantageous, as it would give tortured Americans a Trump-free government.
One must get prepared
As the entire rest of the world feels with the Danish government and governments around the world have probably initiated legal audits to assure themselves of the solidity of their territorial holdings, one must get prepared.
Clearly, given the continuing preeminence of the United States in the world of today, having a refined understanding of the realtor’s acquisitive view of the international property market is fast becoming the key coinage in global power relations today.
After all, beyond knowledge of the raw angles of the entertainment industry, Donald Trump brings only real estate business experience of the rough kind to the Presidency.
Landlords and tenants
To Trump, the world is made up in a totally binary fashion. It consists of landlords and tenants. He views the entire world essentially as a rent-controlled building that he owns, either directly or on behalf of the United States.
He is greatly troubled by the fact that the occupants of that vast building are using arcane laws and customs – whether rent-control provisions or funny international deals like the WTO and international treaties in general – to defraud him and the United States of the due returns.
He resents being taken advantage of in that manner and can count on lifelong experience as one of the toughest New York operatives to reshape his tenant pool and rental takings.
In the usual practice, the arsenal of a not-so-benign suasion includes offers of steeply adjusted rent by using all sorts of legal and illegal loopholes. If that “friendly” offer is refused, one gets battered with an unending application of harassment until the issue is settled in the property king’s favor.
In the absence of laws vigorously applied, this usually works as tenants without sufficient legal representation and hence power either pay up or leave.
Responding to “friendly” embraces
The trouble for the rest of the world’s countries, as Denmark now gets to experience first-hand, is that it is still to be determined how, in the absence of law enforcement previously provided by international institutions, they are able to respond effectively to such “friendly” embraces.
Evidently, given that the Trump world being made up of the tough worthy of respect and everyone else, the only effective response is to be tough, based on strength and options.
Marshaling the national solidarity that such a response requires will be a challenge for any society that is used to be living comfortably in a clement neighborhood. Heading off that challenge is both pressing and needed for the long term.
We can all count on the fact that the challenge posed by Trumpism is not a temporary phenomenon. Crass commercialism has always been a key dimension of America’s engagement with the world that will not disappear with the man.
Simply put, the global reach of American-style M&A transactions is apparently bound to move from the field of corporate battles to the world of nations and entire regions. So far, it has already reshaped the U.S. political discourse and its institutions. The entire world is next.
In response, deals will be made, but new ones will persistently be demanded in the finest traditions of New York real estate. After all, it is still the ruling commercial and political culture of the United States for the foreseeable future.
To Trump, the world is made up in a totally binary fashion. It consists of landlords and tenants.
Trump views the entire world essentially as a rent-controlled building that he owns, either directly or on behalf of the US.
The global reach of American-style M&A transactions is moving from corporate battles to the world of nations and entire regions.
Trump’s world is made up of the tough worthy of respect and everyone else. The only effective response is to be tough.
After Trump’s Greenland offer, governments around the world have probably initiated legal audits to assure themselves of the solidity of their territorial holdings.
Director of the Global Ideas Center, a global network of authors and analysts.
George Haynal is a Senior Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, and a former head of the Policy Planning Staff of the Canadian Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.