Argentina’s politicians are beginning to cheese me off with their incessant whinging and disturbingly aggressive rhetoric towards Britain and inhabitants of the Falkland Islands. The Falkland’s are British, end of. Why they can’t accept this is beyond me, and quite frankly it’s becoming tedious and childish. It’s not that I’m harking back to some previous colonial glory of the empire, wanting to hold on to every scrap of the good old days when we were a global superpower (unlike some Tories I can mention). No. I’m actually quite ashamed of our colonial occupation of lands we had no right to pillage and plunder. Indeed, the Falklands are a hangover of those days and no doubt plenty would want to keep hold of it specifically for that reason, the wrong reason. I too think we should keep hold of it for the time being at least, but for different reasons.
Thatcher’s war was short but brutal. We kept hold of the Islands (at great cost) and sent the Argentinians scampering home with their tails between their legs. One would have thought that they would respect the outcome of the war, or at least show reluctance in sacrificing even more men in pursuit of the same silly goal. Well, Argentina are seemingly increasing military expenditure, and there is a worry that we could see conflict again in the not-so-distant future on the islands. It is rumored that the Russians are going to lease 12 long-range bombers to Argentina which can be used to support an attack. In response, Fallon has suggested he will increase military presence in the area. It is awkward these days, and perhaps even frowned upon, to support any military intervention. After all, what is the point of getting good men killed for a small piece of land thousands of miles away? It’s a defensible position to say that there is never a good reason for this, and is probably the viewpoint most people of my generation (students) would take. I’m sympathetic with this view, but the referendum in 2013 is veryimportant. As well as numerous other considerations.
It asked: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”, 99.8% voted yes. Virtually every single person on the Island (except 3 people) want to remain part of the UK. As such, a part of me is outraged that anyone would dare want to take their citizenship away from them. It is hardly a democratic practice. This is overwhelming confirmation of the Britishness of the inhabitants. Of course the Argentinians, stubborn as they are on the subject, refused to recognize the result. What is there not to recognize? It’s not as if they believe that some other outcome is possible, or the wording of the question was such that it could mislead people to such an extent. No, quite frankly they don’t give a damn what the Islanders want. As far as I’m concerned, these people have a right to remain British, and we have a responsibility therefore, to protect their rights just as we would any national.
The fact that large reserves of oil have been found around the islands have no doubt instilled Kirchner et al with even more drive to conquer the Falklands. Of course oil means money, and who doesn’t like money? But this doesn’t interest me, I’d be saying the same thing with or without oil, but I am skeptical that the Argentinians would be so enamored with the islands were it not for this discovery. It seems to me, that they do not have the residents best interests at heart. But rather, we are being constantly nagged due to some misplaced sense of colonial aspiration and national interest.
What I believe to be a particularly valid point in this discussion which tends to be overlooked, is that even if we don’t have a right to keep the Falklands (which, as explained above, we do), this does not mean that Argentina has a right to them. If all of a sudden, the inhabitants decided that they no longer wanted to be part of the UK, this does not mean that they become Argentinian. These are just Islands near Argentina. Just because some islands are relatively close to a bigger country, it does not mean that said country has any claim over it. If that was the case, India could claim Sri Lanka, South Africa could claim Madagascar and Britain could claim Ireland. What if the Falklands wanted to be a nation in their own right? Russia recently compared their annexing of Crimea to our claim on the Falklands. Regardless of the fact that if they really supported our claim, they wouldn’t be lending the Argentinians long range bombers, the comparison is fallacious. Crimea was technically part of Ukraine and the Russians invaded sovereign land, admittedly after the referendum showed 96% of Crimeans wanted to merge with Russia. Regardless, Russia invaded Ukrainian territory. Thus, the equivalence would be if Argentina held the Falklands, and we invaded. However, as the whole population identify as British and it is already British Overseas Territory, the Russians would be better off comparing the annexation of Crimea with Argentina’s claims on the Falklands. This is a more valid comparison, and just like Russia was roundly condemned for it’s actions, so would Argentina if it tried anything of the sort. Furthermore, Crimea is landlocked, so it is not as cut and dry as the Falklands as far as I am concerned. The islands are not on Argentinian land, they are literally independent and separated. Therefore, they have no more right over them than Britain – distance should not be an issue. Britain has no right to Bermuda for example. The U.S is much closer to Bermuda than us, so by Argentinian logic, the U.S has more of a right than us. You can see how ridiculous this argument is.
To be honest, Argentina are being big babies. Their pride hurts, but they’re just going to have to get over it. There are much bigger social and economic issues in Argentina that they should be focusing on, rather than this childish obsession. To be honest, Argentina are being big babies. Their pride hurts, but they’re just going to have to get over it. It’s not worth people dying over.
By Olly Tozer