Maybe you think that shopping for new U.S. territory is rather 19th century. Or maybe you think it’s just fine. But after it became clear last week that President Trump wants to Make American Bigger, everyone seems to be weighing in. Buy Britain? Have Denmark buy us? You might have your own idea!
Here’s one more. Buy North Korea.
It’s possible, of course, that North Korea’s not for sale. That would be too bad. But you don’t know unless you ask – and this might actually be easier. The president seems more comfortable with dictators like Kim Jong Un than a bunch of prickly Greenlanders and Danes. He did forget to ask Greenlanders what they thought. That wouldn’t be a problem — nobody asks North Koreans their opinion of anything.
You do have to admit that Trump has an eye for a real estate deal: Buying the world’s biggest island would be a very splashy play. While North Korea is much smaller, what it lacks in size it makes up in connoisseur-level craziness. For the more practical-minded, Greenland does have great untapped mineral wealth; but so does North Korea. Greenland is strategically located for the coming geopolitical competition with Russian and China over the Arctic; North Korea borders both those countries and a U.S. presence there would drive them nuts.
Besides, worries about North Korea’s nuclear program would be over. And imagine what a huge weapon the 51st state of North Korea would be in Trump’s economic war with China. If the president does have the authority to order U.S. businesses out of China — as he claims he does — they could move right next door!
But wait, there’s more. Trump has a thing about loyalty. North Koreans have mastered public displays of it. They have decades of experience with Kim, his “Dear Leader” father and “Great General” grandfather. They could relax after their deliverance by the Great Dealmaker. They might have heard that the U.S. is a wild, dangerous place, but no U.S. leader has had his half-brother killed with a nerve agent in an international airport, or musicians – musicians – reportedly executed with anti-aircraft guns.
Think of the rallies Trump could have in Pyongyang! (Then imagine one in Nuuk, population 17,000). Plus, given the chance, a lot of North Koreans probably would be quite pitiless business people. Russia’s post-Soviet oligarchs have shown that there’s no capitalist like a former communist.
Greenland does have valuable rare earth minerals, as well as iron, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, uranium and oil. But some studies suggest a single site in North Korea may hold double the known world reserves of rare earth oxides. North Korea has lots of coal (which Trump loves), iron, gold, zinc, copper and other minerals.
The Arctic is indeed opening up. Instead of playing defense, though, you could really shake up Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping by putting U.S. listening stations and other assets on their doorsteps. One reason China has never wanted to see the Korean peninsula unified is the possibility of having a U.S. ally – much less Uncle Sam himself — on its border. Putin is paranoid about being surrounded. He already has NATO members on his northwest border in the Baltics; suddenly he’d have the United States on a small stretch of his eastern border. That would shut up the whiners who think Trump is soft on Russia.
Earlier this year, Trump tweeted about North Korea’s ‘AWESOME’ economic potential, so we know he’s a fan. And he tells us he’s developed a great relationship with Kim, who sends him “beautiful” letters — while firing ballistic missiles into the ocean (which apparently no longer bothers the president). In any case, there’d be no more North Korean nuclear program.
Trump could develop a low-cost factory floor in North Korea to challenge China. North Koreans are used to working for next to nothing — and you really think they’d quibble about workers’ rights?
On the other hand, Greenland’s 58,000 people have been coddled by Scandinavian social democracy, including free universal health care. They already have Medicare for all.
When you stop to think about it, North Korea seems to be more Trump’s kind of place.
You’re probably thinking, wait: What would happen to Kim? What about the cost of taking on 25 million impoverished North Koreans? What about Trump’s aversion to opening America’s doors to more outsiders?
Good questions. But not insurmountable.
First, we’d be bringing the United States to North Koreans, so they could stay put.
And how about offering Kim a job in the Trump Organization? Don, Jr. and Eric would love working with dad’s young protege. Maybe make him the star of a resurrected “Celebrity Apprentice?” Of course, you’d have to make sure he didn’t get just too enthusiastic about firing people.
Then, finally, about the cost. As last week’s deficit projections show, Trump doesn’t care about adding to the U.S. debt. And we always can figure out a way to have the North Koreans themselves pay some of the costs of his next big idea. As we’ve learned about the border wall, Mexico loves the concept.
Really, what could possibly go wrong?