‘The committee indicated that money is plentiful now, that Greenland is completely worthless to Denmark [and] that the control of Greenland is indispensable to the safety of the United States.’

The motivation behind President Trump’s latest real-estate hunch?


It’s part of a 1940s classified document revealing a serious U.S. joint chiefs pursuit of the autonomous island off Denmark.

The U.S. in 1946 proposed to pay Denmark $100 million (in gold) to buy Greenland, the Associated Press reported in the early 1990s, citing Danish press and the newly discovered documents that had been classified since the 1970s. The proposed deal called for swapping oil-rich land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island, documents in the National Archives showed.

Natural resources were involved then, yes, but the U.S. got what it really wanted from Greenland at the time without having to buy: military″use.

(The Danes may have taken the offer somewhat seriously. The richest oil strike in U.S. history was made in 1967 in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay area, 200 miles east of Point Barrow.)

A Washington Post report Thursday said Trump had asked counsel if a purchase of Greenland is possible, drawing plenty of flak from social media, including the reminder of a colonial past, and raised concerns from allies that aren’t ever clear how much of what the president says can be entirely laughed off, especially when it comes to Greenland’s strategic location for transportation routes. It also wasn’t clear if Trump when mulling U.S. business or asking on behalf of the Trump Organization, some commentators pointed out.

Read more: Trump may want to buy Greenland, and the internet says, ‘Wait, what?

About 600 Danes were estimated to live on the island at the time of the Truman administration offer. When the AP wrote about the deal in 1990s, an estimated 10,000 Danes and 44,000 Inuit called Greenland home. U.N. figures put today’s population at roughly the same some 30 years later: 56,600 in total, with nearly 90% comprising the three major groups of Greenlandic Inuit. In 1979, the former colony was granted home rule, but Denmark retains control of foreign and defense affairs.

Greenland, subject of intensifying study as an epicenter of climate change after recent major melting, told the U.S. and the world it’s “open for business” and not entertaining offers.

Related: NASA scientists track Greenland’s melting ice, and the findings are not good

Others quipped that Greenland was perhaps singing the dug-in seller’s refrain.

Mike Murphy contributed to this report.

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