Daniel W. Drezner

The geothermal superpower strikes back!

OK, so by my calculations, your humble blogger has heard from at least .001% of the Icelandic population in response to my latest book review.  By an eerie — and not conspiratorial!! — coincidence — they have been unable to post responses using FP’s f***ed-up somewhat dysfunctional comment software.  Sooo… as a special courtesy to ...

OK, so by my calculations, your humble blogger has heard from at least .001% of the Icelandic population in response to my latest book review.  By an eerie — and not conspiratorial!! — coincidence — they have been unable to post responses using FP’s f***ed-up somewhat dysfunctional comment software.  Sooo… as a special courtesy to Icelandic Friends of Drezner’s Blog (IFDB), here are the responses: 

1) From Petur Henry Peterson: 

You seem, rather naively, to think that this book was written by the Nation of Iceland. You would be better to "follow the money" and realize that its author is one of the people hired and payed handsomely,  for what at the best, appears to be to deceive and manipulate Icelanders about the real state of their banking system. Is he going to identify himself and his friends as the culprits, I dont think so. Strangely, the people who were the best and the brightest, now claim to have been totally clueless
(well some of them were and still are ;).

Most Icelanders realize all too well the cause of the meltdown in lax regulations and cronyisms between right wing politicians (and their supporters, the farmers party) and the financial sector, plus a dash or two of nepotism, stupidity, greed, lack of active democracy and a national minority complex.

I think that’s supposed to be "inferiority complex" rather than "minority complex," but you get the idea. 

2)  This one comes from Audur Ingolfsdottir:

I have not read the book myself, and thus have no comments on your analysis on the book itself. However, I must agree with your own second thoughts, on if the last part of the review is perhaps a bit harsh. Not so much because I think Icelanders should not look within to find explanations for the crash last October, but rather you assumption, after having read a book by a single individual, that his analysis are reflective of the "country´s mindset".

The Icelandic public went out to streets, outraged, pounding their pots and pans, which resulted in the government resigning and early elections were called. The director of the financial serveillance authority resigned after huge public pressure. The central bank managers were forced to leave theirs seats, also after great pressure by the public. Hardly any of the people that were in power during and before the collapse are still holding their positions.

Currently the government is going through the very painful process of cutting down costs in the public sector. At the same time, considerable amount of money is being spent in order to investigate the banks, and what went wrong.

So I would say that although there were of course some strong international forces influencing the chain of events, most Icelanders are acutely aware of that a number of things went wrong in our own country, and a lot of work is aheaad to clean up the mess. 

These are fair comments, and it would certainly be unfair to say that Jonsson’s worldview represents all Icelanders.

That said, I’m not the only one who’s picked up on this meme.  Both Michael Lewis and Ian Parker sussed out the same vibe when they visited Reykjavik — and it comes out a little bit in the newest Icelandic PM’s recent public statements.  Furthermore, the Financial Times recently noted that, "Iceland has a tendency to imagine a British or Dutch conspiracy behind any bad news." 

The problem with this kind of label is that it’s hard to shake, so maybe this is dogpiling on a small country.  I’ll merely point out, with respect, that this statement in my book review was not based only on Jonsson’s book — rather, it is emblematic of everything I have read to date about Iceland. 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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