Argentina goes to UN over Falklands

I see that the government of Argentina has complained to the UN over the Falklands.

Presumably, just as Galtieri's military Junta was trying to prop itself up during political difficulties when it invaded the islands, the present president is attempting to shore up her domestic political position with an equally childish appeal to the most xenophobic forms of chauvinism. I suppose we should think ourselves fortunate that this time the Argentinians are choosing forms of protest which only waste time and money rather than lives.

The latest ridiculous argument is that it in some way "militarises" the islands to have sent Prince William to the Falklands on a routine posting as a navy Air Sea Rescue pilot, and to have sent a modern destroyer, HMS Dauntless, to visit them. If Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner should lose the next election, she should be able to get a job as a stand-up comedian on the basis of her accusation that the British decision to send HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic and to post the Duke of Cambridge on Air Sea Rescue duty on the islands posed a risk to "international security".

Well what do you know - Air Sea Rescue is a threat to International Security! Perhaps this might provide a retrospective justification for Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq. Apparently it wasn't whether Saddam Hussein had WMD we should have been worried about but Iraq's Air Sea Rescue service!

While I wouldn't rule out the possibility that other UN members may take the opportunity to embarrass Britian over this, there is no way that most of them would actually accept the principle that a nation state can't move a military unit within their own territory - can you imagine what China or Russia would say to any other country which told them they could send one of their own destroyers to an island they claim and control? So although they may make us veto the complaint as revenge for the Syrian argument a few days ago, if we didn't have a veto Russia or China might well have blocked the Argentinian argument themselves. It just isn't the way the world works.

The irony is that if successive Argentine governments had wooed the islanders with friendship rather than threats some sort of joint sovereignity might now be in place. In the seventies and early eighties some sort of deal was very nearly put on the table by successive Labour and Tory ministers, although backbenchers in the House of Commons gave Ridley's proposals short shrift at the time and they were put on the back burner. But such a deal might have been a remote possibility until Argentina invaded and started a conflict which cost hundreds of lives.

At the moment the first British blood was shed in the Falklands war and lives had been lost in the defence of the islands, it became quite inconceivable that either the British or Falklands electorates would consider any compromise with Argentina while the events of 1982 remain in living memory.

The previous history of the islands is not actually all that relevant. Since about the 1920's the principle has been generally accepted by everyone who is entitled to call themself a supporter of democracy that self-determination is the only acceptable basis for deciding national boundaries.

The vast majority of the Falkland Islanders want their home to remain under the British crown and reject any idea of being put under Argentine sovereignity. Which, after what the Argentines did on the Falklands in 1982, is hardly surprising.

And for those who believe in democracy that is the end of the argument.


Jim said…
I completed a 4 month tour in the islands in 2002 (may-sep) and was there for the 20th anniversary.

It amazed me when I was there, just how patriotic and proud to be British the Falkland Islanders are.

On a lighter, one of my fondest memories note:

I also enjoyed watching England beat Argentina 1-0 in a certain world cup game. On a very cold, very early morning (I was on night shift at East Falklands MPA HF transmitter site at the time)
Tim said…
"Since about the 1920's the principle has been generally accepted by everyone who is entitled to call themself a supporter of democracy that self-determination is the only acceptable basis for deciding national boundaries."

Why does this principle not apply to the Chagos Islanders ?
Chris Whiteside said…
Ideally it should, and I would like to see this long-running problem resolved by mutual agreement, e.g. finding a solution which is acceptable to the islanders, if at all possible.

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