Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The situation in Libya has weighed heavily on everyone's minds these last few weeks.  The acts of brutality that Col. Qadhafi has committed against his own people are repulsive.  It was heartening to witness the international community's decision to put an end to these atrocities by enacting UN Security Council Resolution 1973.  The decision to move forward with military action in Libya was not an easy one, nor was it taken lightly.  In some exceptional circumstances, however, force must be used to safeguard the liberty and well-being of innocent people.  This was clearly such a case.

The United States is working with its European allies’ armed forces to establish and enforce a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan people.  We are also contributing material and financial resources to provide humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people.  Iceland’s support for UN Security Council Resolution 1973 and its financial assistance to the region reflects the best of Iceland’s humanitarian traditions.  Iceland's continued engagement is needed as the international community debates options on giving the Libyan people a path to democracy, liberty and basic human rights.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reykjavík Art Museum

Reykjavík‘s Art Museum is quite impressive and thought provoking.  During a brief visit, kindly guided by Hafþór Yngvason, Museum Director, I heard about his vision for the museum not only at Hafnarhús, but also at Kjarvalsstaðir and the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum. Hafþór, a longtime resident of the Boston area, is an excellent bridge between our countries. He highlighted some of these connections through the “Without Destination“ exhibit, which includes works by American artists Roni Horn, Peter Hutton, and Deborah Stratman. The Erró exhibits at the Museum are amazing and deserve a good bit of time. I suspect my wife and I will become regulars at the museum.  I look forward to visiting the other two.

Friday, March 18, 2011

American Film: the perennial window into U.S. society

It was such a great experience to hear Richard Peña’s fascinating lecture “Business as Usual: A Brief Tour of the History of American Business as Seen through the Movies” at the Bíó Paradís. Richard has been the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival since 1988. He showed clips of several movies dating back to the early twenties, the fifties, and the 21st century.  Sometimes we think we are dealing with new dilemmas, but Richard’s presentation reminded us that many of the questions we are dealing with today about the relationship between business and society have been around forever. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Iceland‘s Food and Fun Festival

It was fun to be a part of Iceland‘s increasingly famous Food and Fun Festival.  Americans and Icelanders share a passion for good food and the Festival provided a great opportunity for American Chefs to share their art with counterparts from Iceland and Europe.  The gala dinner, which was dedicated to Washington, DC, included great American classics like Maryland crab, Virginia Ham, and a crowd pleaser: Mac‘n Cheese.  We look forward to next year‘s event!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Heartbreak in Japan

Japan‘s earthquake and the devastation it brought upon the Japanese people is heartbreaking.  But from within all the depressing images shown vividly in our televisions and newspapers is a bright light that reflects the resilience, industriousness, and perseverance of a people we know will prevail over this calamity.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Iceland and American law students engaged on hot topics

U.S.Ambassador to Iceland Luis Arreaga (right) welcomes
law students from the University of Iceland and their
 guests from Ohio Northern University.
I had the pleasure to welcome at my residence a group of Icelandic law students from Háskóli Íslands who were hosting a group of law students from Ohio Northern University as part of an ongoing 40-year program of exchange visits between both universities.  We took the opportunity to ask both groups their views on ongoing national debates in their respective countries.  Icelanders had very clear and well informed opinions on issues such as the Icesave agreement, Iceland’s application to the European Union, and the Icelandic Constitution; their American counterparts had similarly informed views on the U.S. budget deficit, the path to economic growth, and ongoing debates about labor union rights.  It was reassuring to hear that the future leaders of our countries are quite engaged on the issues of the day.

Libya’s challenges to the International Community

As the world watches in horror the atrocities brought upon the Libyan people, there have been calls for the international community to act swiftly and for the United States to stop the bloodshed.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have sent a clear message that Colonel Qaddafi and his government will be held to account for their actions.  In the meantime, the United States is working with the international community, especially multilateral organizations, in putting together and contributing to a package of measures designed to provide humanitarian support, evacuation assistance, economic sanctions, and arms embargo, and other measures to stop the bloodshed.  No single country can or should deal with this issue. It is a shared responsibility.