Iceland, Guantanamo and the Economic Crisis. (This day in Cable History)

Framing is a fundamental tool of understanding. It is in the action of framing, or providing a narrative that context is created and understanding promoted. As with all "big" news stories and the embassy cables in particular, the various news outlets reporting on the cables have provided the context in which understanding is created, gained. The Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegel and others have to a greater or lesser degree provided the political framing much needed to understand these cables. But, what of the social framing? What was the state of culture during the writing of these cables? And for that matter what were some of the economic indicators at the time?

During the next few weeks, I will attempt to provide some social and economic context to the otherwise political framing which has already occurred. It is the hope that by providing a glimpse, as it were, to the social/economic state of the time when these cables were written a more complete understanding can be had. The range of social cultural and economic aspects will purposefully be broad as to paint a general backdrop to the cable in focus. I do however beg the indulgence of the reader, in the fact that the backdrop provided will of necessity be slightly US-centric. Further, the social snap-shot will range from what some might call the trivial to the pertinent; this is done to truly provide an appropriate backdrop and not to unnecessarily exclude elements which might prove to augment understanding.

Iceland's parliament unanimously passed a non-binding resolution on May 30 calling for the closure of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The resolution further called for the Government of Iceland to convey that message to the U.S. government; Iceland's Foreign Minister did so later that day during her meeting with visiting Secretary of State Rice. Given the timing, news of the resolution and the issue of Guantanamo Bay dominated the press coverage of the Secretary's visit. Some media - implicitly criticizing the FM -- have since speculated that the resolution and its timing irritated the U.S. enough to scuttle hopes of U.S. support for Iceland's UN Security Council bid.


Some of the Movies:

  • 2008-05-02: Iron Man
  • 2008-06-20: Get Smart
  • 2008-07-02: Hancock
  • 2008-02-24: Dark Floors (Icelandic)
  • 2008-10-03: Reykjavik-Rotterdam (Icelandic)

Some of the more popular Songs:

  • 2008-05-25: Take a Bow : Rihanna
  • 2008-06-07: Viva La Vida : Coldplay
  • 2008-07-05: 7 Things : Miley Cyrus
  • Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch, but the lyrics to "Viva la Vida" seem in a very real way to foretell the economic crisis looming on the horizon for Iceland.

Some of the more popular fiction Books:

  • 2008-05-25: THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer.
  • 2008-06-22: NOTHING TO LOSE, by Lee Child.
  • 2008-07-06: FEARLESS FOURTEEN, by Janet Evanovich
  • The above selection of books, were indeed on the "adult" book list for the New York Times. The fact that twenty years ago, these books would have been considered young adult, speaks volumes to the US's drift to illiteracy.

Some of the more popular non-fiction Books:

  • 2008-05-18: The Revolution: A Manifesto. by Ron Paul.
  • 2008-06-15: What Happened. by Scott McClellan
  • 2008-07-06: When you are engulfed in flames. by David Sedaris
  • The following quote from Scott McClellan, should undoubtedly give hint to the political nightmare of the Bush administration.
    He accuses Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, of misleading him about their role in the scandal, which caused him to effectively lie to the press. When the truth comes out, he receives a whipping at the hands of the White House reporters. "I could feel something fall out of me into the abyss as each reporter took a turn whacking me,"

Read more:,8599,1810019,00.html#ixzz1Aw...


  • $ vs kr (1 = 80.4)
  • Gold Price Close 2008-06-30 : 926.20
  • US Dollar Index 2008-06-30 : 72.46
  • Dow Jones: 2008-05-30: Close 12638.32
  • Dow Jones: 2008-06-20: Close 11842.69
  • Dow Jones: 2008-07-01: Close 11382.26
  • If the price of gold is an indicator for market insecurity; the fact that as of this writing gold stands at 1,376.58 should give pause. However, the price could also be representative of inflation; which has also increased since the writing of this cable.

Economic: (Iceland.)

The total value of exports of goods January-May 2008 was ISK 2,200 million or 1.5% higher at constant rates of exchange than the same period the year before.

The total value of imports of goods January-May 2008 showed decrease of ISK 3,100 million fob or 1.7% lower than in the same period last year, at fixed rates of exchange.

Economic: USA (in billions)

  • Exports : 158,771
  • Imports : 219,947

Other events at the time:

Thursday 29 May 2008 at 15:45, an earthquake of the size 6.1 on the Richter scale occurred in Southwest Iceland. It was found in Reykjavík and elsewhere. Its origin was near mountain Ingólfsfjall, 5 km northwest of Selfoss which is a town 55 km east of Reykjavík. This area is referred to as Ölfus. The bridges across river Ölfusá were closed temporarily for routine safety precautions.

June 5th 2008; Iceland's environment minister, Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir, gave the green light for police to shoot the bear because the correct tranquiliser would have taken 24 hours to be flown in, the Icelandic news channel reported.

Concluding thoughts and remarks.

It would be about four months later that the Icelandic financial system would suffer an almost complete collapse. At the time, some commentators implied that a partial reason was that Icelandic traders were unfamiliar with some of the more exotic forms of investment and took unnecessary risks. Perhaps this played a part; however, I think it is worthy of note, that this very "public" disagreement with the United States occurred not so long before the economic rug had been pulled out.

References and Sources.

*I know the vast majority of the data provided tend to be US "culture". It is an arguably sad point that the predominant culture in the world is in fact manufactured by Hollywood. Much like the DOD, Hollywood spends more than the rest of the world combined on producing such quality movies as Kung Fu Panda and Sex and the city (also released during the time)

To survive from economic

To survive from economic trouble could be the toughest challenge faced by most countries, we knew how severe the economic turmoil was and we are always on the look out to struggle in this current situation. Some states are doing the cutback to fight the global economic meltdown however Illinois officials are betting on the opposite tactic, dramatically raising taxes to resolve a budget crisis that threatened to cripple state government. It depends upon us on what kind of strategic plan that will work best to beat the threat. I am looking forward that Illinois tax increase will be successful in creating a sustainable economy.


Excellent work, Justin! You have a gift.


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