Saturday, November 08, 2008

TIDYING UP

The map of the northern world has become much more tidy in the last 60 or so years. Between the end of the Age of Empires in 1919 and the redistribution of populations to match borders undertaken by Stalin, the north has relatively few latent issues pending.

That being said, there are some historical oddities. For instance, Liechtenstein still exists. It was created so that the powerful Liechtenstein family could get a seat at the Reichstag under the Holy Roman Empire. While the rest of the Holy Roman Empire underwent one of two processes (consolidation into Germany under Prussia's leadership, or statehood after the fall of the Habsburgs in 1919), Liechtenstein just sort of . . . stayed where and what it was. It was never part of Austria, so it was not absorbed either by Austria or the Nazis during the Anschluss era. It was disconnected from Germany proper, so it was not corraled by the Prussians. It uses Swiss money, and speaks German, but its railroad is run by the Austrians, and it has no airport. It also has no military. It is an oddity.

I think of Iceland as an additional oddity in Europe. 300,000 Vikings living on a volcano in a place called "Iceland" even though the winters are quite temperate there. The Icelanders are the Europeans who first arrived in Greenland, which IS full of ice. What makes Iceland even more odd right now is that the tiny country, which was an original NATO member, and occupied by the Allies during World War II to keep the sealanes to Britain open, has been forced into bankruptcy by its old ally, England. Perfidious Albion indeed. How did that happen? Well, a few of the Icelandic banks had major exposure in the UK. When the banks failed, the British government used antiterrorism (!) laws to freeze Icelandic assets. The application of the antiterrorism laws, along with the fact of the bank collapses, led to a general crisis in confidence toward Iceland. Suddenly the value of the currency has fallen by half, and foreign denominated loans are twice as expensive as they were. To make matters worse, the outside workd is not trading currencies for krona, so there is no way to pay these debts. Inflation is at 16%, and unemployment is rapidly increasing. In short, Iceland is in trouble.

So, what is the "tidying up" referenced above? I say that we offer Iceland statehood. 300,000 people is nothing (roughly the population of Green Bay, WI, or Roanoke, VA), and we COULD use an island half way to Europe, right? The Icelanders already speak English, and they already have a functioning republic. We make the current Icelandic flag the flag of the 51st state, swap their krona for dollars, and zim-zam-zoom we have a new outpost in the Atlantic. Of course, the Brits will have a significantly harder time bullying Iceland as a U.S. state, but that is just a side benefit.

P.S. I would put Iceland in the First Circuit (if Puerto Rico can be, why not Iceland), and tell Puerto Rico, the U.S.V.I., Guam, Washington, DC and any other colonies still lurking out there that this is the time to get in or get out. Colonies are unamerican.

3 Comments:

Blogger Nik said...

Nice posting. Here is a joke for you:
Q: What is the capital of Iceland?
A: About $4.50.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Nik said...

By the way, didn't Iceland ask the Russians for some bail-out cash? Big mistake. At the very least, they should have asked Warren Buffett first (or join as the 51st state).

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the Icelanders should apply for statehood while also asking for a piece of the $700B bailout. They get a bunch of cash and we get an island full of hot blondes with awesome accents. I call this a win-win situation for all involved.

8:12 AM  

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