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Opinion
A Watergate Of Our Own

A Watergate Of Our Own

Published February 27, 2012

The Watergate scandal was both a low point and a high point in American politics. The downside was that the President turned out to be a crook. The upside was that it showed that no one was above the law, not even the President himself.
Nixon was forced to resign in 1974, but the results were not as one might have hoped. Bright young people did not rush into politics to prove that they could do a better job than Nixon did. Instead, people who wanted change seemed to have largely lost faith in the system. Arguably, American politics never recovered, leading to Reagan, the Bushes, the Tea Party and (God help us) Newt Gingrich. Perhaps Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon as soon as he succeeded to office played a major part in this disillusionment. The former President, it turned out, was above the law after all.
THE RESULTS OF A REVOLUTION
Much the same now seems to be taking place in Iceland. The economic collapse in 2008 laid the flaws of the crony-based Icelandic political system bare. Many rushed to the streets to demand change, others wrote columns, blogs, even books, made comments, analysed and tried their best to understand what had happened. Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde was forced out of office along with the government he presided over, but change has been slow in coming.
A committee was set up by Parliament to find out the roots of the collapse. The findings were seen as authoritative and laid the blame equally on the political and financial systems. Eventually, the MPs themselves were forced to act, voting on whether to indict four of its own members, two from the Alliance Party and two from the Independence Party, including the former PM himself.
THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT…
The results of the vote were a disappointment to anyone expecting change. Parliament failed to rise above its squabbles, largely voting along party lines. The result was that only one man, the former Prime Minister, was indicted. This made it easier for Geir’s supporters to portray the indictment as politically motivated.
Nevertheless, he was undeniably the man in charge in the years leading up to the collapse, and if someone was to be held accountable, it seemed reasonable to start with Geir Haarde. Even more importantly, the trial would force many of the most powerful people in Iceland to take the stand, and this in itself might force much valuable information on the reasons for the collapse out into the open.
…OR MAYBE NOT
Of course, much of this information would be sensitive, if not downright incriminating, for many of those still in Parliament. Small wonder then that Independence Party Chairman Bjarni Benediktsson recently put forth a motion to suspend the trial. This requires a double vote, first on whether his motion is to be submitted to a vote, and then the vote itself. So far, Parliament has voted in favour of putting his suggestion to a vote. Whether they then will vote in favour of suspending the trial, remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is that if Parliament votes to shield the former Prime Minister from accountability, then this will lead to further disillusionment with the political system as a whole. Our elected leaders will have proven to be truly above the law, and those desiring change will want nothing to do with such a system. Perhaps this is exactly what the Independence Party is counting on, for it is the best way to make sure that nothing will truly change.   



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Opinion
So What’s This Lack Of Army I Keep Hearing About?

So What’s This Lack Of Army I Keep Hearing About?

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Iceland has no army. It does operate a Coast Guard, which does have four ships, three of which are combat-ready vessels. The Coast Guard has a wide variety of guns at its disposal, from cannons to handguns. But it is not really a navy in any kind of traditional sense. The National Police Commissioner also has a Special Unit of 50 police officers, nicknamed “The Viking Squad,” which has several units specialized in various aspects of armed conflict. Viking Squad? Should monks in Britain and France start locking their doors at night and pray for safety from the wrath of

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Opinion
A Spaceship In Iceland!

A Spaceship In Iceland!

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A specially prepared Boeing 747 NASA aircraft landed at Keflavík Airport in May of 1983. This would probably not have made any headlines, had the plane not been carried the NASA space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ on its back. This strange flying object passed over Reykjavík before landing at Keflavík, which at the time was, of course, still the US Navy base NASKEF. The aircraft and its cargo were in Iceland for a fuel stop on their way to Paris, to attend an air show. The ‘Enterprise’ was the first ever space shuttle and was used for test flights in the atmosphere,

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An Ornamental Resignation

An Ornamental Resignation

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Today, (now former) Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir resigned from her post, one year and one day after her ministry leaked a memo to select members of the press containing falsehoods and misinformation about Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos. As one of the first people to call for her resignation, you’d think I’d be doing a little victory dance on my desk right now over this. After all, this resignation comes just days after her former assistant, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, was found guilty of breach of confidentiality for his part in the whole thing and a slew of

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Opinion
Regarding Julien Blanc

Regarding Julien Blanc

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I do not think we should prevent him from coming here. Barring people from coming here is stupid. Why make a martyr out of him? Scumbags like him are always the first ones to celebrate censorship and deportation. Because fuckwits like him like to pretend they are the true champions of freedom of speech, and use that rhetoric ad nauseam to justify the diarrhoea that flows from their throats so freely. If we deny him entry, he’ll brag about it on Twitter and probably get loads of retweets from a sad army of braindead, semen-reeking, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing humanoids. He’ll be a

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Opinion
All Highly Unlikely

All Highly Unlikely

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The freedom fighter Last things first: Styrmir Gunnarsson, former editor of Morgunblaðið, has published his memoirs from the Cold War. As reported, these disclose, among other things, that during most of the 1960s, Styrmir provided the Independence Party’s Chair and Minister of the Interior with information about the interal affairs of two socialist groups, retrieved at weekly meetings with an undercover informant. Styrmir’s first years as a journalist at Morgunblaðið overlapped with this activity. In interviews, the former editor keeps insisting that there was nothing wrong with all that, so far without facing anyone who might claim that yes, there

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Opinion
Old Men, Addicted To Power

Old Men, Addicted To Power

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I’m sitting in a cab waiting for Karin. She is the youngest member of the travel party, and it is our first time travelling together. We are en route to the airport, headed to Toronto. Young Karin is being invited, along with the rest of us, on a mission to showcase Icelandic culture across North-America. The big picture is that by doing these concerts, more tourists will eventually make their way to Iceland, and spend more money. This is essentially a win-win situation for all involved. It’s nice, being a musician in Iceland. Our society supports its musicians, which in

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