Argentina’s Claim to Falklands a Travesty

Britain can relinquish the Falklands when a majority of Argentinians returns to Spain.

Flag of Argentina
Flag of Argentina (Noel Hidalgo)

Of late, the Argentinian government has objected to continued Royal Naval deployments to the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands which are situated some three hundred miles from Argentina’s coast in the South Atlantic.

Buenos Aires under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has since the end of last year made demands and claims over the islands, seeking to take Britain to international arbitration in hopes of gaining support for its case.

It has, from celebrities including musician Morrissey and the American actor Sean Penn. They have made statements supporting Kirchner’s policy and damning Britain’s possession of the islands as an anachronism.

Accusations have been made of Britain “militarizing” the issue via deploying “more” naval forces and prominent people, though how the dispatching of the Duke of Cambridge to the islands to learn air-sea rescue methods, or rotating a T45 destroyer through the Falklands station simply because it was its turn, is “militarizing the issue” does not make sense to anyone aware of the concept of training deployments.

Indeed, it seems more like an excuse from the Argentinians to raise the issue. Héctor Timerman, the country’s foreign minister, even claimed that his government had information that, within the framework of the recent British deployment in the Falklands, a nuclear submarine with the capacity to transport atomic weapons to the South Atlantic, was dispatched.

This is most odd, considering it is British policy to not reveal the presence of Royal Navy subs. So is Timerman lying? Or has he been spying?

It is quite likely that a British nuclear submarine passes through the area on a regular basis, owing to the method of British deterrence — to have the boats out at sea constantly moving. So this seems another excuse to cry foul when no foul has been committed.

It also ignores the fact that, should it be deemed necessary, a nuclear weapon fired from a British vessel could hit Buenos Aires with equal damage and accuracy regardless of being launched from Port Stanley in the Falklands or Port Ellen in Scotland.

The official British stance has been fairly solid since the end of the 1982 conflict. The islanders, it is believed via public demonstration of the Falklands inhabitants and their observable content, wish to retain their British citizenship and their homes on the islands. As the only inhabitants since settlement in 1840 other than penguins (the previous human settlement being in turn a naval station and an Argentinian penal colony lost in a mutiny), it could not be considered too brazen that it should be the current inhabitants and their wishes which should be the deciding will over the issue.

The islanders, who number British, with some French, Chilean, Scandinavian and Gibraltan stock, have raised multiple generations on the isles and received British citizenship in 1983.

What is more, their interests should be safeguarded by international convention. The United Nations Charter states clearly that the purpose of the organization is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” Not, as Argentina would will it, the defiance of such respectable convention and the wishes of the people who have lived on the Falklands for generations.

That the question of the islanders’ right to live there and their wishes should be questioned by Argentina, a state mostly made up of Spanish settlers which is barely older than the British claim over the islands, is downright absurd.

With the prospecting of fossil fuels in the waters surrounding the islands, it is likely that an ever desperate Argentina, whose economic affairs are in poor shape, will continue demands and claims but what is worse, under the false flag of justice, it may win the day while the rights and wishes of the people who have lived on the islands as their great grandparents did, will be swept aside to conform with some calculated misunderstanding and misrepresentation of “innocent” Argentina and the false allegations of imperial conquest propagated by whining celebrities.

The only conquerors in this tableau were the Argentinian forces in 1982, which incidentally was probably the longest period of Argentine presence on the island since human settlement began there.

The only just course of action for Her Majesty’s Government is to continue the wall of silence to all comers, Argentine or the inevitable United Nations committee they wrangle, until the rights of the inhabitants are to be respected and then there will be no need for talks.

Perhaps when the majority of Argentina’s population returns to Spain, the Falkland Islands can be given back to the penguins?