The present dispute between the UK and Iceland is turning into a melodrama in which some unwise statements and actions are being made on several sides. But while it’s easy to crack witticisms about a “New Cod War”, the implications of what is currently being said, done and discovered in connection with this falling-out are drastic enough.
Not that all of the statements are unwise. At a press conference in Reykjavík today, Iceland’s prime minister Haarde made the perfectly reasonable remark that “Gordon Brown, Britain’s prime minister, went much too far in his comments about Iceland yesterday.”
Agreed: it’s going too far when the government of one country more or less accuses the friendly government of another of economic terrorism.
But it’s also going too far when the local governments of one country – even if it was due to their own negligence – are to all intents and purposes held to ransom by the failing economic system of another. And it’s definitely going too far when a country that’s a member of NATO announces that it intends to make an extraordinary financial arrangement with Russia that could, if certain conditions were met, conceivably overturn the whole of the strategic balance in Europe and the Western Atlantic.
It’s probably going too far even to publicize the dispute at all, as the headlines continue to do.