I’ve just beens sent this link to a website entitled Icelanders are NOT terrorists. The Icelander who informed me is a friend and political contact – Eirikur Bergmann Einarsson – who has been mounting a one man defence of his country in the UK press.

So what do I make of all of this? As The Times speculated, did Gordon Brown need a bit of a boost in the polls by picking on a weak adversary – Iceland for him, as the Falklands were for Thatcher? Using the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to secure assets from Icelandic banks that were collapsing was over the top for sure – it does not send the best signals to Iceland, and after all a lot of the UK high street is owned by Icelanders (West Ham Football Club too). So Eirikur and his campaigners probably have a point.

But beyond that, look at the website with all its smiling people… and think. It makes the assumption that you can judge who a terrorist is just by looking at him or her. There are no people sporting long beards or dark skins in the pictures, so, well… It leads you down a dangerous path. I think they would have been much better to put an image of multi-cultural Iceland up on their site.

[UPDATE – 3.10.08]
Apparently it gets nastier… You can get T-shirts in shops in Reykyavik that say ‘Brown is the colour of poo’ with a pic of Gordon on them – as pictured. Ã…sa Petersen took the photo.

36 Comments

  1. seltjorn

    Our job is to maintain our fishery zone which we have been doing quite well for the past years (compared to many other nations). For the Coast Guard that’s it’s main goal, aside from rescuing people from danger naturally.
    That job could become much more difficult when/IF we join the EU. It’s already hard since we only have 3 coast guard ships and a single plane to patrol the ocean.
    I for one was more or less against joining the EU although the thought of a more unified Europe (with the EU as the glue) has always been a sexy one. I’m beginning to lean towards the EU a lot more than before but we still have to be careful and not rush into such a big thing like joining a major collective of nations (that’s a very serious business) where we would possibly be one of the underdogs. I’m not saying that Iceland is huge nor that it’s certain that we don’t need the EU. Iceland has almost always been dependent on the material we get from the European mainland+UK….there’s still a lot of things to consider and no matter how often you guys say that we”..HAVE NO CHOICE LEFT…” and that this is a simple matter that ought to be very obvious for us simple folks who live on this rocky reef. 😛

  2. Helga Maria

    @Kin I do agree. This thing that we have of guarding our freedom at any cost is starting to get old. The freedom to do what? As you so nicely put it giving the green light to a few megalomaniacs to gamble taxpayers money in a big peeing contest between a few small-country boys pretending to be big business moguls. It´s actually the freedom to starve to death. Misplaced pride has been the fall off many great adventures.

  3. Just stay and listen to this. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE LEFT THAN JOINING THE EU! Your economy is bankrupt, with no money and you still want free regulation? Should you were in the EU before the crisis, you had full support from the other economies in bloc and no collapse would have happened.

    Well, you want to protect your “rich” fishery zone, which will be depleted in no more than 30 years (in a optimistic view). Until then Iceland would survive in a poor basis like countries as Portugal and Spain before the EU.

    On the other hand, joining the EU would mean that your “casino” banking system would be restrained. You wanted the luxury life by leveraging your credits well beyond your means. Now it is the time to pay them back…

  4. “You´ve read to much Sun and Telegraph and to little EU documents and decitions.”

    I don’t read the Sun and the Telegraph.

    And I am someone who actually reads regulations and directives. In my opinion a lot of the legislation is completely justified. Anything that ensures a fair and free markets is good regulation.

  5. @Johan

    “Conspiracy theories and dogma? Really is that the best you can do?”

    Yes, this is the best I can do 🙂

    I propose to see through the words and not focus on the words themselves.

    It is interesting to see the plurality of the opinion of people, even if they are entrenched in their own theories.

  6. “That statement is so incredibly ironic considering a large part of the criticism leveraged towards the EU is that they’re incredibly over-regulatory. In fact, the Trade Commission wants to regulate anything that moves (literally and figuratively) in order to ensure the common market is as fair and even as possible.” You´ve read to much Sun and Telegraph and to little EU documents and decitions.

  7. “And the apperent colapse of deregulation and Neoliberal consens wich seems to take place presently.”

    That statement is so incredibly ironic considering a large part of the criticism leveraged towards the EU is that they’re incredibly over-regulatory. In fact, the Trade Commission wants to regulate anything that moves (literally and figuratively) in order to ensure the common market is as fair and even as possible.

  8. “People are me and you who are allowed to travel inside the Schengen area visa free.” An other myth. You might pass the border but you do have to carry a identity card at all times even in your own country! Like in the old South Africa and Soviet Union.

    So the students have benefitted that ist right. But that could have been done without the EU!

    Conspiracy theories and dogma? Really is that the best you can do? The old Union is in a lot of trouble then. What will happen with Obama in the White House, Lafontaine closer to the Kansleramt, and Gordon staying in No.10? And a couple of years with economic crisis? And everytime “the people” may vote on “Europe” they reject it?

    Well I dont know? Should one say for the communists that they know when the game was up and throuh in the towel and disengaged with some dignity? Or is it you neoliberals that shows the best way to behave? With your refusal to give in when defeated? I do believe I prefer the Communists, there was a certain dignity to some of them (Gorbatjov, Krenz…) and they did addmit that the game was up.

  9. @Johan

    “Who are “people”? What people (nationaly defined or socialy?) has benefited from the EU? ”

    People are the students who are allowed to study in other countries without visa problems or currency restrictions,etc.

    People are me and you who are allowed to travel inside the Schengen area visa free.

    I personally believe that dogmatic is the one that sees only his picture of the world, blightly denied all the good things that the EU has done.

    If you are fan of conspiracy theories you will find a lot of interesting scenarios about the EU. I in particular thing that the theory that claims that all goverments are “shadow run” by a small list of huge multi-national corporations, including the elaboratio of the policies that they promote (i.e. the Trans-European Networks were financed in order for goods to be able to be transfered everywhere to the EU fast and inexpensive for the benefit of the big corporations).

    “Acctually I´d claim that the only ones that have are the three poor “old” members: Portugal, Ireland and Greece. ”

    Please allow me to disagree. Look closer who the contractors are for these projects. The pattern that you see (and it has been also documented by some studies) is that the money attributed to the “three poor old MS” are returned back to the “rich MS” 🙂

    Of course you will not find a lot of people opengly discussing this issues 😎

  10. RZ. OK, you want to live in Brussels dreamland. I am critical of the EU. You deny what the EU does and dream up your own world. Very good, but there is no reason to talk with anyone who just denies evertthing you say because it dosen´t fit with his (?) worldview.

    One just can´t talk with religious people. Neither thoose wo has a spiritual nor a wordly religion. This will be the undoing of the integationist project. Just as it has been in the past.

  11. “weaker health and social care (privatizing)”

    The EU has no power over national health care and the national social welfare state. There is no and there can never be a directive affecting these areas (apart from some regulations concerning freedom of movement).

    “The EU has bought weaker unions, deregulation of natural monopolies”

    1. Weaker Unions: I am not aware of any specific policy decisions affecting Unions. Here it would be nice if you could elaborate.

    2. Deregulations: Some areas have been deregulated others more strongly regulated. These Policies are not done by some shadow neoliberal elite, but by clearly defined institutions like the parliament which is directly elected.

  12. Helga Maria

    “weaker health and social care”

    I lived in France (EU) for 11 years. I came back to Iceland two years ago and the health and social care is far (really far) worse here in Iceland (this is from experience from both countries) .I on the other hand notice how the people in politics in Iceland keep stretching the point of how great the countries health care is , and sadly saying it is not enough! We have the duty to verify the information we are being fed with. I always remember a few years back when I came to Iceland on a vacation, the media kept saying we were the longest living and healthiest people in the world. A few days later back in France the same propaganda was coming from the french media. We have to be aware of the techniques used to mould our opinion and not fall into the trap and loose our (true) critical thinking.

  13. “That’s where you can find with ease the answer to what the goal and purpose of the union is. But my guess is that you’re going to reject that.”
    All right. And reecting something which i don´t find good is ofcourse not either a right nor may it be sound judgement given my insterest and views? The “this is good because it´s good” argument is exactly what I am against.

    “British Eurosceptics for example can bitch day and night how European regulations are the end of holly free market. ” Yeah, I know a thing or two about that. Clearly they haven´t understood the EU. But then Thatchereits haven´t understood much and they are the dogmatic people who “Rugt” are on about.
    The EU has bought weaker unions, deregulation of natural monopolies, weaker health and social care (privatizing), more polution (free movement means more lorries on our roads) and finally a weaker democracy because many fields of society has been moved out of the regulating control or ownership of the state. The effect we see now in the economic crisies and depresion.
    But I guess telling the truth counts as being dogmatic in the world of dogmatic intgrationists?

  14. Johan said:
    “But “free movement” is a myth…Free movement could be great but not free movements for the elits.”

    I am sorry for you if you are not able to cross borders in the EU. Let me emphasis that I support free movement for everybody, that includes the Elite.

    “Because the ones that wanted the EU were busness and coroprate intrest groups. This is the way that the commision and the court alwas rules and moves.”

    I wonder what Microsoft would say to this. Or the Chemical Industry (regarding the REACH Directive) etc etc. British Eurosceptics for example can bitch day and night how European regulations are the end of holly free market.

    Todays Nations states would not have the power to regulate International Cooperations. The antitrust case against Microsoft is one of the major examples how the EU steps into that gap.

  15. “Who is dogmatic?”

    http://europa.eu/abc/panorama/index_en.htm

    That’s where you can find with ease the answer to what the goal and purpose of the union is. But my guess is that you’re going to reject that.

  16. “Honestly, I believe it doesn’t matter what people answer to you. As long as it does not follow your dogmatism you will probably reject the answer. Even if it really is as simple and fundamental as “an economical and political partnership” (which it is).”

    Who is dogmatic?

  17. “Noone has been able to tell me (I have asked differnt people from different countries) what the goal and puropse of the union is.”

    Honestly, I believe it doesn’t matter what people answer to you. As long as it does not follow your dogmatism you will probably reject the answer. Even if it really is as simple and fundamental as “an economical and political partnership” (which it is).

  18. “Let me say this: As long as the EU is free trade area we need a institution to set rules, standards and regulations for this whole economic area. If we have free movement across the continent we have also to coordinate criminal investigations inside the EU, because an criminal can cross borders anytime. Clearly if we give up free trade and free movement across the Continent we can go back to the National solutions.”
    But “free movement” is a myth. It only exists for the rich and well educated, and criminals. There is moreover no will in the present EU framework to impement regulations like those that existed in the nationstates. Because the ones that wanted the EU were busness and coroprate intrest groups. This is the way that the commision and the court alwas rules and moves. Free movement could be great but not free movements for the elits.

    A new co-operation in Europe willö have to do away with these two first thing. Such unelected institutions above the citizens are very embarrasing to some of the oldest and finest democrcies in the world.

  19. Johan:”There is a need for stong international institutions but not continental but global, IMF and the World bank seems more likely together with a stronger UN.”

    Well, that is very progressive.

    Let me say this: As long as the EU is free trade area we need a institution to set rules, standards and regulations for this whole economic area. If we have free movement across the continent we have also to coordinate criminal investigations inside the EU, because an criminal can cross borders anytime. Clearly if we give up free trade and free movement across the Continent we can go back to the National solutions.

    That doesn’t mean that the EU as it exists is perfect and clearly and could, and should be improved.

  20. “In some sense I actually agree with that. I would also prefer a much smaller EU, maybe something of the size of the Eurozone.”
    What are you waiting for?

    But I didn´t mean size but the number of issues and ways of co-operating. And ofcourse I wanted to burst some myths on the accomplishments of the EU. If one takes away the claim of “peace” there isn´t much that the EU has to show in its and its predecessors over 50 years.
    Alternative ideas would be interesting. Both a return to independent nation states and ideas for other forms of co-operation in Europe and beond. But that will need a common goal which the EU doesn´t have since the colapse of the SU in the late 80s and early 90´s. And the apperent colapse of deregulation and Neoliberal consens wich seems to take place presently.
    The last few weeks incidents on the financal markets and the new role of the state makes Lisbon and the constitutional treaty even more dead than the Irish voters.
    There is a need for stong international institutions but not continental but global, IMF and the World bank seems more likely together with a stronger UN.

  21. @Johan: I can recommend Firefox, easy to install, includes a spell checker, fantastic on all other counts as well.

    You said:
    “That leavs stability and peace between Germany and France (which would have come anyway considering the size of the German defeate 1945). So perhaps you should go back to the good old “coal and steel community”.”

    In some sense I actually agree with that. I would also prefer a much smaller EU, maybe something of the size of the Eurozone.

  22. Helga Maria

    Even though we would join the EU the fishing rights would be sold just as they are today the only difference is that Icelanders would not have the sole rights to purchase it. For the average Icelander the problem is not so much who buys it but who gets the jobs that go with it (fishermen, sales, marketing, shipping et. c). There is a big percentage of the nation related to this business one way or another even though they work at an accounting agency. But in my humble opinion not considering joining the EU puts us at a risk of passing on numerous benefits that come with being a part of such a strong entity. And with the world globalization we might be fighting a cause that has no meaning in the long run anyway. Unless we plan to keep the krona at an all time low (I really hope not) and just concentrate on export ( not good I really need my french shampoo) we really should at least consider joining the EU…….

  23. seltjorn

    I do relish the fact that Europe is trying (at least) to form a unity within the continent by creating this union and I do hope it will work out in the future.
    But as things are right now then Iceland would have very few benefits by joining the EU.
    And when I talk about the fish and mentioning the quotas (@ David) I know it can be unfair to some people but I still think it’s an essential part of our work in protecting the fish in whole and it’s also one of the key factors surrounding the EU debate (here in Iceland). Joining the EU would mean that our waters will basically become open to a lot of nations making the Cod Wars meaningless and the job for our Coast Guard and scientists even harder (in protecting the fish). This is of course arguable but I still think this is a pretty good reason not to join the EU…I’m ready to agree to disagree. 🙂

  24. “It is unlikely that we would have had Peace for such a long period without an institutional way to clarify differences between European Nations. ”
    Well, the first thing that happend after the EU was founded was a major European war (the Balkins). And the EEC didn´t create peace either. It was the balance of terror and the workings of the cold war (ironicly) that did. And then it´s also woth pointing out that the UK and Spain have had low intensity civil wars running since the 70s. So moch fo peace.

    “The EU as it is right now is a work in progress, which means its goal and purpose (and existence) will depend on the choices made by its member nations.”
    And that is why you do have a problem. There simply is no direction and to much of compeating wills.

    That leavs stability and peace between Germany and France (which would have come anyway considering the size of the German defeate 1945). So perhaps you should go back to the good old “coal and steel community”.

    Picking on peoples spelling is a bad argument. But might do for anyone who wants to shift the argument to thoose who argue for status quo.

  25. Johan
    “Noone [sic] has been able to tell me (I have asked differnt [sic] people from different countries) what the goal and puropse [sic] of the union is”

    The EU as it is right now is a work in progress, which means its goal and purpose (and existence) will depend on the choices made by its member nations.

    “But do come up with arguments and not just peace and stability…. Because that is neither true nor relevant to the 21st century.”

    Peace and Stability is a major point. To dismiss it is intellectually dishonest and a little naive. It is unlikely that we would have had Peace for such a long period without an institutional way to clarify differences between European Nations.

    It is essentially you who has to argue, what type of fundamental change (non-EU related change) has occurred that would magically lead to all nations being suddenly at peace.

  26. “To say EU hasn’t benefited anyone is basically saying that you mostly lived in one country all your life and don’t really know too much about EU and how it functions. ” I don´t know what is woring with mostly living in one country. I do detect a classfounded arrogance in the comment. Living in another country is posible even if said isn´t a member of the EU. I do suspect that most people witth the experience live in the Benelux or sorounding parts of France or Germany.

    As for the comment about “not knowing” that is ofcourse even more arrogant. In fact on a national level it´s been proved that the more Eurosceptic countries are also thoose were the citizens are most knowledgible of the workings of the EU.

    “There would be no EU if it wasn’t overall beneficial to all its members.” That is factually wrong. The EU is a major burden to at least four-five its members (UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands).
    This line of argument is also typical for the EU and its supporters. Noone has been able to tell me (I have asked differnt people from different countries) what the goal and puropse of the union is. It seems to me that it´s running on its on dynamic and that the leaders in the council has to agree because they have to not because that would mean certain gains for their citizens.
    But do come up with arguments and not just peace and stability or the achivement of “overcoming” nation. Because that is neither true nor relevant to the 21st century.

  27. To say EU hasn’t benefited anyone is basically saying that you mostly lived in one country all your life and don’t really know too much about EU and how it functions. There would be no EU if it wasn’t overall beneficial to all its members.

    Having said that, that doesn’t mean that every European nation would benefit from the EU. In the example of Iceland, I don’t think its very simple to see the benefits. The primary reason for Iceland not joining the EU was always the fishing rights. However, I don’t think that the present fishing laws and quotas in Iceland really benefit anyone but a handful of Icelandic wealthy fishermen, while the smaller fishermen don’t get too much. In general I think that the economy in Iceland is too monopolized by a relatively few Icelandic businessmen, and staying out of EU really mostly benefits them because it doesn’t allow for competition.

    As Iceland is now, I think an average citizen, like me, would benefit from the EU. I think its good to protect your own but I think Iceland has reached a point where it is overprotecting certain parts of its economy.

  28. “a lot of the UK high street is owned by Icelanders”

    Well, it was. Now it’s kind of in the process of being owned by the receivers of the relevant Icelandic companies and individuals…

  29. seltjorn

    @ Christos: I am looking at the whole “package”. EU would never be good for us for a lot of reasons…economics and fish are only a sample.
    Would anyone ever listen to us in the EU council? I couldn’t see that happening considering the recent events where our “allies” in NATO simply/basically said: “bugger off…it’s your own fault”. Even though I DO understand that one looks to his/hers own nation first and then seeks to help the other ones who’s in need…Britain didn’t want to give us any breathing space so they simply called Landsbanki a terrorist organization without considering the consequences. And those consequences are that every other business (including Kaupthing that had been preparing for this crisis but fell either way thanks to Gordon Brown) and now our exports are in shambles…making it even harder for us to cover the damage done by Icesave.
    So would we ever gain anything from joining the oh so glorious EU? I seriously doubt that…nothing indicates any thing else.
    So, sorry EU but no sale!

  30. “People are unhappy with all goverments (either local, national or supranational), but they still understand that the EU (supranational) has worked in their favour.”

    Who are “people”? What people (nationaly defined or socialy?) has benefited from the EU? Acctually I´d claim that the only ones that have are the three poor “old” members: Portugal, Ireland and Greece. All others have mostly lost (rights, posibilies and freedom).

    Iceland would as a small western European country win absolutly nothing (like us in the other Nordic countries). It is also typical EU policy to bully a country into joining (this happend with my own country in 1995) against their better jugement and free will (last time around we rejected more EU rule).

  31. @seltjorn: I believe that it’s the whole package that you should look and not just one policy area. Concerning your example, I still have not found many people from Portugal that tell me that the EU was not beneficial for them.

    The same goes for my home country (Greece). People are unhappy with all goverments (either local, national or supranational), but they still understand that the EU (supranational) has worked in their favour.

  32. Helga Maria

    I agree that it is incorrect to affirm that terrorists look like terrorists (whatever look one associates with terrorists in and ones mind) And it is obvious that one terrorist does not make the whole population of his country of origin or race terrorists. Iceland is a country where people often don´t lock their cars or even houses and the thought that somebody would kidnap you child is the last thing entering a parents mind when a child is late home for dinner. In Iceland Pirates wear eyepatches and bank robbers have squashed faces from the 40 den stockings on their heads. But then again maybe the world still think we have horns and carrie big brassy swords? But the fact is the majority of Icelanders had very little idea of all this big business going on in the big world until we were presented with the bill. We are not terrorists we are terrified!

  33. seltjorn

    @ Christos:
    Joining the EU would mean that our fishing zones (whatever the official word is for it) would become wide open for every other EU member. That could have serious consequences for us and the fish around our island.
    An example I’ve got is Portugal. I work with a woman that’s from there and I gather that before they joined the EU the main income for their nation’s economy was the fish. Since they joined the EU the other nations have greedily ruined (just about at least) their fishing zone.
    We should NOT join the EU and not just because of that reason.

  34. @rz: At least, no Member State was branded as “terrorist” 😉

  35. Well, it certainly convinced me.
    Hopefully “Falkland War II: Iceland” is over before it started.

    Christos:
    “Inside the EU, there was a whole different game, as it was evidenced from the recent Council.”

    Was it? Everybody agreed to the same approach to the crisis, but nonetheless all solutions are purely national.

  36. May be our Icelander friends should consider seriously to join the EU 🙂

    Inside the EU, there was a whole different game, as it was evidenced from the recent Council.

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