I’m really surprised that banker David Hale’s out-of-box solution to Guantanamo – and perhaps to Jihadi terrorism – not to mention Iceland’s financial problems, has not received more attention. In an op-ed in the Financial Times – that could have been published in The Onion — he proposed that the U.S. ship the Guantanamo prisoners from sunny Cuba to freezing Iceland in exchange for saving the island from financial default:
The challenge for Iceland today is to reopen the US base. It would no longer have a military function but could be an ideal solution to President Barack Obama’s problem of where to place the Guantánamo prisoners. 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. As the prisoners come primarily from Afghanistan, they would probably prefer Iceland’s cooler climate to the tropical heat of Cuba.
Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, said in November 2008 that the US should not waste a good financial crisis. He was referring to the opportunity that the crisis created to increase federal spending on long-cherished Democratic programmes. His statement could also apply to foreign policy and Guantá-namo. 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. Iceland is ideal to play such a role because it was the closure of a US military base that allowed its financial collapse. Iceland could escape from default and depression if the base were to reopen.