David Hale, chairman of David Hale Global Economics, wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times that Iceland could help save its economy by accepting prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for money.
In the article, Hale argues that Iceland’s bank collapse was not a financial event but a geo-political one. He cites Iceland’s relationship with the US throughout the 20th century, culminating in the closing of the Keflavík naval base a few years ago. “There is an old geopolitical tradition that countries with US military bases never default,” he writes in part. “This was last upheld in South Korea 13 years ago. In 1997, there was a run on Korea’s banking system by foreign investors and foreign exchange reserves were nearly exhausted. Default appeared imminent but the US promptly intervened to stage a rescue. … If the US had not closed the Keflavik base, Iceland would have experienced a similar rescue.”
Building on this argument, Hale argues that Iceland needs to get the base re-opened, albeit not in a military capacity but in accepting prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay facility in exchange for money, arguing: “The US has offered Palau $200m to accept 13 prisoners. Bermuda accepted a few to protect its status as a tax haven. The US could show its appreciation to Reykjavik for hosting prisoners by allowing its banks to join the troubled asset relief programme. The US Treasury could cover the cost of repaying Iceland’s retail deposits in the UK and the Netherlands with just one-half of the profit it made on its Goldman Sachs shares.”
Hale concludes the article by saying in part, “The American people do not want any suspected terrorists in their backyard. There are less fortunate countries that would accept Guantánamo prisoners in return for cash.”