Quick. Which nation is a terror threat: Iceland or North Korea? If you answered North Korea, you’re sane, but, unfortunately, wrong. At least if you ask the US or UK governments. Yep, while the US government has removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the UK government has used anti-terrorism laws to seize some of its UK-based banking assets and legally punish the Icelandic government for “completely unacceptable behaviour“. The world has truly gone mad as both world powers seek to maintain their respective positions of global dominance through threats and coercion.
Poor Iceland. It seems like only yesterday that the UN named it the most developed nation on Earth, sliding past Norway to claim the number one spot on the UN Human Development Index (HDI) for 2007/08. Suddenly a financial crisis in which somehow tiny Iceland is caught on the fault line, exposing giant cracks in its over-extended banking system. The Icelandic government has been forced to take control of three of the nations banks in the past week: Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir. In doing so, the government has guaranteed the deposits of its citizens, but in a move that the UK finds unacceptable, they have failed to guarantee the several billion pounds of British deposits and investments. So, because the Icelandic government won’t promise to refund investment losses of British citizens and companies, the UK government has responded by invoking the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 to freeze the British assets of Landsbanki, estimated to be about £7 billion. Why stop there? The government is contemplating freezing all Icelandic investments. Faced with a loss in confidence in their currency, the Icelandic government is seeking a reported €4 billion loan from Russia to help avoid national bankruptcy and the Brits expect them to guarantee £8 billion of deposits for foreigners! Referring to the move by the Brits, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Geir Haarde said, “I told the chancellor that we consider this to be a completely unfriendly act.” Understatement.
Meanwhile, North Korea, a country which exploded a nuclear bomb a couple years ago, is no longer being called a terrorist, by the US government, this week anyway. The removal fulfills a promise the American administration made to Pyongyang over a year ago but is obviously highly contentious. Critics include John Bolton, members of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, and even some members of the State Department’s verification and compliance office. But, at least Dubya and Condi can say they did something, right? So, what is today’s lesson? You got it, blow up bombs and threaten the very existence of the world, but never, ever mess with someone’s money!