Just when you think Donald Trump can’t be more absurd with respect to friends and neighbors of the USA, he tops himself. Who would dream of insulting the Queen of Denmark? What could Trump have been dreaming? “Ah, there’s the rub,” as Denmark’s most famous prince once ruminated.
As I understand it, US President Donald Trump was due to make a state visit to Denmark in less than two weeks. The state visit was, like the recent one to England, to include a state dinner on September 2 hosted by Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark. This was to have been the first such visit since President Bill Clinton visited Denmark. Denmark is one of the USA’s most stalwart allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Then, for some reason, probably to add an agenda item to the talks that go on at occasions like this, Trump floated the idea of discussing a purchase of Greenland. Greenland is the largest island in the world (if you consider Australia a continent). It is an autonomous Danish territory, with its own government. Apparently, Trump has been serious about buying Greenland and thought Denmark might be ready to get rid of it since it costs them a lot to maintain. With Arctic ice melting and shipping lanes opening and with Greenland rich in unexploited minerals, Trump supporters have scurried to defend the purchase as timely and smart. However, the Prime Minister of Denmark was astonished when Trump’s idea reached her. She called the notion “absurd” and mentioned that Greenland’s government was not interested in having a new landlord. So Trump cancelled the visit with just days to go. He was not going to Denmark if they couldn’t talk about a real estate sale, and then he Tweeted that he was insulted, that the entire United States of America was insulted, by the Prime Minister’s rude reply. Most people, including me, thought it was all a joke at first. But it turns out it he was serious and in a fit of temper he insulted Denmark and the Queen. Trump was just rebuked. He hates that.
So this is how US foreign affairs are being handled. The present US State Department and the White House aggravate and show contempt for our historic friends. Almost every time this happens it is because Trump has had a tantrum. Early in his administration the President had a Secretary of State who could handle most of the chaos that resulted when the boss flew off the handle or made some outlandish deal with a party determined to destroy our influence. But Trump fired him, and now has a Secretary of State to his liking.
What this means in the long run is that the moral influence of the USA as a defender of democratic principles and world development is being eviscerated. It is no longer important that the USA lead, as long as the USA can have its way. The word “bully” comes to mind. So far, during the past 3 years, US foreign policy has been highlighted by creating a crisis or creating fear of one, and then solving the crisis while blaming others. US domestic policy has been steered toward the dissolution of the middle class and the increasing of wealth for the elite. It is US foreign policy, however, that will be our first permanent defeat. When it is safe to ignore the USA, rest assured the USA will be ignored.
It will be possible to manage the mess that Trump has made of US relations with Denmark. But some of the destruction in international relations will not be remediable if Trump keeps throwing temper tantrums.
Image above © Metro News UK
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.