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Greenland, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, is the world's largest island. Its population is 56,600. It was formerly a province of Denmark but "it gained the status of an autonomous Danish dependent territory with limited self-government as well as its own parliament in 1979" , according to BBC. Denmark takes care of foreign affairs and military matters and is Greenland's main trading partner. [1]

Despite its name, Greenland's climate is extremely harsh, with more than 80% of the land covered by an ice cap which in some places is 4km thick, although global warming is raising fears that the ice cap is melting increasingly fast. [1]

U.S. military base

In the Arctic, opposition is emerging to Bush administration plans to upgrade military bases in terms of land-based missile defense. In 2001 K.L. Capozza of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that although bases are "likely to bring millions of dollars in investment to isolated northern Inuit communities, many fear that the arrival of missile silos and advanced radars may also bring environmental destruction.

"During the Cold War, the Arctic became ground zero for U.S. communications and surveillance operations designed to thwart a Soviet attack from the north. When the Cold War thawed, military sites were abandoned and left to decay on the Arctic tundra. Contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), petroleum, radioactive waste and solvents, they still pose a toxic threat to local ecosystems.

"Now, communities in Greenland and Alaska are bracing for what promises to be a second military boom in their territory. But if the military still has not cleaned up its former sites here, many northerners are wondering whether they should welcome a new wave of development." [2]

Krista Mahr writing for Frontline (PBS) in 2004, said that the U.S. signed a new pact allowing "a $260 million upgrade of the early warning radar system at the American military base at Thule, Greenland. It is part of the Bush administration's plan to implement the controversial SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative), or "Star Wars" antimissile defense system." [3]



Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Regions and territories: Greenland, BBC, accessed March 2008.
  2. K.L. Capozza, "Heated Arctic dispute - Greenland, Alaska natives balk at new U.S. military plans", San Francisco Chronicle, November 3, 2001.
  3. Krista Mahr, "Greenland: Colin Powell's Glacier", PBS, November 9, 2004.

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