It has a lovely, wind-swept coastline and a bicycle-friendly capital city. It has some cutting-edge restaurants, internationally competitive companies, impressive wind farms, a spectacular opera house. It regularly tops the list of the world’s happiest countries — this year, it came in second, just after Finland, and well above the United States. Still, at this particular juncture in history, maybe it’s time to ask: What, after all, is the point of Denmark?
Or, more precisely: Why do we need a Danish ally? In normal times, I wouldn’t have bothered to ask that question, let alone spend even a nanosecond answering it. Denmark has been a formal U.S. ally since it joined the NATO alliance in 1949. For 70 years, nobody has questioned Denmark’s strategic importance in the Baltic Sea, its reliability as an ally, its membership of the various clubs that make up the West. But President Trump’s ludicrous spat with the prime minister of Denmark — which takes place just as he sets out, once again, for what all assume will be another disastrous trip to Europe — makes me think it’s time to go back to basics, to think again about the purpose of U.S. alliances, and not just the alliances with big countries such as Germany or Britain.