The thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War is rolling around, and Argentina’s leadership is starting to sound the battle cry again. Buenos Aires is already pushing for sea and air embargos of the Falklands.
A British training mission in the area is scheduled to take place and include Prince William. Learning of this, Argentina’s foreign ministry referred to the young sovereign as a conquistador.
This led Prime Minister David Cameron to point out the islands’ inhabitants say they wish to remain under British rule. Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner then accused the PM of “mediocrity bordering on stupidity.” Last year she had referred to the UK as a “crass colonial power in decline.”
During the entire history of inveigling over these (until recently) relatively worthless rocks, every Argentine head of state, whether democrat or dictator, has made matters worse than they needed to be. Given that Great Britain from approximately 1945 has seemingly had no qualms about surrendering the Empire in toto, there must be a very good reason it clutches so desperately onto this sea-sprayed outpost.
Here is why.
Someone who claims to have been present in cabinet shortly after the surprise Argentinian invasion to “drive out the British” tells me that PM Thatcher pounded the table and said something to the effect of, “They can have the bloody islands, but they aren’t having them this way!” Which is the point.
The mental midgets leading Argentina never realized that had they simply asked for the Falkland Islands they once had a good chance of getting them. Instead, when every other corner of the world was balloting, plebisciting, and referenduming their way to independence from the Crown, the boobs in Buenos Aires decided to flex their muscles.
Only a madman or complete blunderer might have been convinced Great Britain would allow itself to be humiliated in such a fashion. Launching the entire war—if it can even be called that—showed less comprehension of reality than your average feature film.
Initially the United States was neutral, which meant they would send no bullets but instead transfer every ream of code intelligence, satellite data, and electronic eavesdropping they could muster straight into British hands. Did the Argentinians actually find it plausible the US/UK “special relationship” would buckle under the weight of some banana-republic swagger? Yes, they did, proving why Argentinian politicians should not practice international relations. They do not comprehend its basics, let alone its complexities. Six hundred forty-nine Argentinian soldiers paid the ultimate price for this idiocy.
Worse, from the Argentinian-on-the-street point of view, is that now it’s a certainty that Britain will never relinquish the Falklands. At a time when the Scots are peacefully allowed to vote on whether to even continue as part of the United Kingdom, these remote islands are very far off the table. The Falklands are no longer a declining power’s marginal outpost; they have become a symbol, and as such can never be surrendered.
In other words, dismiss it Argentina, because as long as there is one British politician left on Earth you are never going to assume control of the Falklands. You might have had it once for the asking. But now? It simply isn’t going to happen. Not ever, and you did it largely to yourselves.
Argentina stakes its claim on incredibly weak legal evidence. The Falklands are within “territorial waters”? Not exactly, given those are recognized as 12 miles out at best and the Falklands are over 250 miles away. Argentines once claimed the Falklands? Dubious, since the nation constituted as Argentina when the British assumed ownership in 1833 had only existed for 17 years, with its present borders being set only in the 1870s when they (ahem) finally dominated the last resisting indigenous peoples of Patagonia and southern Pampas.
Violent invasions and racist name-calling aren’t considered catching flies with honey, which was the only plausible way Argentina was ever going to have these islands returned.
Should any non-executive Argentinian officeholder read this, understand that I hold the greatest respect for your people and nation. I have been there and found it charming. There are many wonderful things about Argentina: the tango, the neoclassical architecture, and the women’s sartorial splendor. The citizens were universally cultured and polite. Yet never have I known any elected officials to so thwart their people’s desires by more useless and counterproductive measures.
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