Having talked to the opposition regarding the governments position on Afghanistan, we tried to get the governments´ point of view. This proved more difficult than expected. The minister of Foreign Affairs, soon to be Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrimsson, is away from his office and was therefore unable to give an interview regarding government policy. An approach was made to Prime minister Davíð Oddsson, but turned down on the grounds that he was away on sick leave. While Grapevine spent time being bounced from one department to another it seemed not an unreasonable question to find out who was in fact responsible for Foreign affairs when the minister is on vacation and the Prime Minister is on sick leave. At first the answer was “We don´t know” and then after a number of phone calls it turns out that the man of charge of Iceland´s hot line to the President of the United States is the Minister of Agriculture, Guðni Ágústsson. Now, if George Bush were to ring up in a crisis the answer he would get is a resounding “Ha?”, for sadly the Minister of Agriculture does not speak English, very well. Perhaps this would put him on equal footing with the President. Their conversation might sound something like this:
GWB on the hotline to the Minister of Agriculture. Sir, I would like to talk to you about the war on Teur’rism.
Guðni. Awoken from his sleep. Ha? Pause for a minute…Ha? Teur´rism?… Já,…já I’m responsible for Túrism. What problem do you have with Túrists?
GWB to himself. (Jeez where´s this guy been for the last three years?) Teurrists… Teurrists, I said. Foreign minister, I just thought I´d let you know that we´ll be sending teurrist suspects to our facility at Keflavík for questioning. We need your help on this one. Human rights activists are all over our facilities in Iraq these days.
Guðni: to himself. (Seems a strange time to do a consumer survey of visitors to the Airport but he seems to know what he wants) Já já , frábært. You ask as many questions of as many turists as you like. Only, please remind them of the Blue Lagoon. Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. President?
GWB. (Sensing an opportunity) We were thinking about locating a few newcleur silos over you way. Do you any problem with that?
Guðni. Pauses for even longer (new…clear…silos?) his mind is racing and he thinks hard to himself. (he must know we don´t produce much wheat…oh well…) Yes Mr President, I´m sure that will not be a problem. Maybe one or two at first though.
GWB. Trying hard not to show his elation. I have to say Minister that I ‘preciate your attitude…I´ll let you know the next time we need your help in liberating a country.
Guðni: Góða Nótt, Mr President.