Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fighting over the Falklands

Not being an Argentinean nationalist, I find it hard to understand the fervour of their territorial claim to the Falklands. Neither do I get Argentina's objection to the Royal Navy sending a ship or the RAF one of its officers (Flt Lt Wales) to tour the South Atlantic. Argentina and Britain's contest over the islands is about economic and strategic control of the area, irrespective of the flag waving on both sides. 

The Argentinian government is planning to refer the dispute to the United Nations and the Argentinan Football Association has renamed its First Division after the General Belgrano, the warship sunk by the Royal Navy in the 1982 conflict that followed Argentina's invasion of the islands. (I have also never understood the objection to the Royal Navy sinking an enemy ship in a war, whether you supported that war or not).

The chances of another war over the Falklands are slim, not least because Britain is too tied up militarily in Afghanistan to deploy a Task Force to retake them. The Argentinian government's sabre-rattling is also a matter of winning votes, just as the military junta tried to shore up its rule by invading in 1982.

Many people who support self-determination seem to have a blind spot over the Falklands. They may be Godforsaken, windswept islands where sheep outnumber the people but there is little doubt that their inhabitants want to remain part of Britain. That ultimately is what matters, not spurious stuff about the continuity of the Argentinian state with the Spanish Empire or who occupied the islands first.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely. Argentina has never had historical, linguistic, cultural, ethnic or political links with the Falklands. The only link is geography, not a good reason. But for me the main one that supercedes all others is democratic: these people want to be linked to the UK, with whom they do have all the above connections, geography excepted. Similar arguments apply to Gibraltar, which has been ruled by Britain longer than it was by Spain.

    If either of these entities ever wishes to join the country that claims them, then fine. But if I lived in either, I too would not be happy to be handed over to countries that in modern times have been ruled by vicious fascists.

    In reality, it's the oil and mineral rights that both sides want, but the democratic views of the islanders themselves have to be paramount. Argentinian sabre-rattling will only reinforce the islanders attachment to Britain: something of an own goal for Argentina, I'd have thought.