Greenland’s Quest for Autonomy and the Political Dynamics Surrounding the Thule Air Base

  • Minori TakahashiEmail author
Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


The principal goal of this chapter is to empirically and inductively answer the main topic of the volume, the influence of sub-state actors on national security, by focusing on the correlation between Greenland’s quest for autonomy and the political dynamism regarding Thule Air Base. The important points the author wishes to make in this chapter are that during the negotiations on the radar upgrade and the transformation of Thule Air Base into an outpost in the U.S. missile defense shield Greenland on the surface maintained a negative stance towards the continuation of Thule Air Base while, in fact, arguing on the premise that the base would stay, and that, through the continued existence of the base and its transformation into a missile defense outpost, Greenland was attempting to increase its say in diplomatic and military matters. In contrast with that, to Denmark the Thule problem posed the question of neglect and responsibility - Denmark found itself in a situation where it had to take a visible, concrete approach toward Greenland and conduct negotiations while constantly trying to keep the political cost down. The attitude of Denmark to deal with the wishes of its sub-state actor Greenland with flexibility and compromise was a pervasive leitmotif in the discussions regarding the missile defense shield.


Greenland Arctic Autonomy Thule Air Base Missile defense Indigenous people Self-perception/self-image 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Slavic-Eurasian Research Center and Arctic Research CenterHokkaido UniversityHokkaidoJapan

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