The Monroe Doctrine and the Governance of Greenland’s Security

  • Dawn Alexandrea Berry
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series (STANTS)


On the first anniversary of the April 1940 German invasion of Denmark, American Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Danish Ambassador Henrik Kauffmann signed the Denmark–United States Agreement for the Defense of Greenland.3 The controversial act signaled a major shift in American foreign policy relating to the island, which until as late as May of 1939 had been dismissed by military planners as having limited strategic value to the United States.4 Following the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, however, technological developments in aviation and increased global demand for Greenland’s natural resources led American policymakers to reconsider the island’s place within the Western Hemisphere. The 1941 agreement formalized this change in thinking. It explicitly extended the Monroe Doctrine to Greenland, identifying the Danish colony for the first time as part of the hemisphere within which the United States would not tolerate the intervention of other foreign powers. The agreement also granted the American government temporary control over the security of the island, until such time as ‘the dangers to the peace and security’ of the continent had passed.5


Western Hemisphere Virgin Island North Atlantic Treaty Organization Panama Canal Interwar Period 
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© Dawn Alexandrea Berry 2016

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