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Obama Administration Equivocates on Pro-British Falklands Referendum

The president is playing the "anti-imperialist" game.

by
Mike McNally

Bio

March 19, 2013 - 12:04 am
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The people of the Falkland Islands, the tiny British overseas territory 300 miles off the east coast of Argentina, have voted to remain British subjects by a margin of 99.8 percent to 0.2 percent; the turnout was a remarkable 92 percent. Just three islanders voted no, and they haven’t been in a hurry to own up to the fact.

The referendum was intended to send a clear signal to Argentina, which also claims sovereignty over the islands, but the government in Buenos Aires has dismissed the result. Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, and Britain retook them after a 74-day war in which 255 British servicemen, 649 Argentines, and three islanders died.

Successive governments have maintained Argentina’s claim on the Falklands in the years since the war, but tensions have increased recently as the country’s president, Cristina Kirchner, has sought to use the issue to deflect attention from the country’s growing economic problems caused by her socialist policies. Amid soaring inflation and slowing growth, Argentina has been fiddling with economic data in a bid to stop investors fleeing the country. However, there are signs that voters are beginning to see through Kirchner’s distraction strategy.

Argentina’s interest in the Falklands has been piqued by the discovery of what are thought to be considerable oil reserves in the waters around the islands, and it has threatened to sue banks and other firms who cooperate with oil companies exploring in the area. The threats are part of a wider campaign of economic intimidation; Buenos Aires has also barred merchant vessels and cruise ships that have visited the islands from docking in Argentine ports.

The recent demise of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez won’t help matters. Chavez backed Argentina’s claim to the islands, and his death has created a vacancy for a paranoid and reckless populist to pose as the leader of the Latin American nations and take up the torch of “anti-imperialism.” It’s a position Kirchner would no doubt like, and one that she’s entirely suited to — and manufacturing a confrontation with Britain over the Falklands would embellish her resumé.

While Argentina’s rhetoric has become increasingly heated, a repeat of the 1982 invasion is unthinkable. Back then the islands were defended by just 70 Royal Marines; there was no air support, and just a lone naval ice patrol vessel on station. Now the 3,000 islanders are protected by 1,200 troops, anti-aircraft missiles, and four state-of-the-art Typhoon fighters. A destroyer and other warships patrol the surrounding waters, and a nuclear-powered submarine is believed to be within striking distance of the islands at all times (the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano by a British sub was a pivotal moment in the 1982 war). Argentina’s armed forces, meanwhile, have been severely depleted by budget cuts, and its air force is still flying the same aircraft it had in 1982.

Times have changed, and a new Falklands conflict would likely be fought in the meeting rooms of the United Nations and the courtroom of world opinion, with Argentina enlisting the “international community” in what it frames as an anti-imperialist crusade. It’s a strategy Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman hinted at on a recent visit to London, when he said the world was “understanding more and more that this is a colonial issue,” and claimed Britain would be forced by international pressure to hand back the islands within 20 years.

But that’s not to say Argentina wouldn’t try something to bring matters to a head, perhaps by flying an aircraft close enough to the islands to get shot at. Alternatively, it’s not hard to imagine Kirchner organizing a stunt along the lines of the Gaza flotilla, and sending a boatload of “peace activists” towards the islands. Such a move would attract worldwide media attention, and would likely spark a confrontation with the Royal Navy. An international outcry would follow, with assorted tyrants and thugs from Latin America, Iran and elsewhere lining up at the UN to condemn Britain’s “colonialist aggression.” As Israel has learned over the years, once hostilities have broken out, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, or who’s the aggressor and who’s the victim; it’s about upholding nebulous ideas of “fairness” and “justice,” and for the diplomats it’s all about making a deal, however bad. Anything for a quiet life.

The United States, in its capacity both as the regional superpower and a historic ally of Britain, would play a key role should tensions escalate. And, from Britain’s point of view, the indicators coming out of Washington these days are not encouraging.

The official U.S. position has long been that it recognizes de facto UK administration of the Islands, but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of Britain and Argentina. That was the case in 1982, but Ronald Reagan was instinctively supportive of Britain, and of his friend and ally Margaret Thatcher, and strongly opposed Argentina’s aggression. Reagan initially allowed Secretary of State Alexander Haig and UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick to pursue a diplomatic solution; but when Argentine dictator General Galtieri refused to withdraw his forces, and it became clear that Thatcher would not back down, he authorized Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to provide material and intelligence help to Britain, including, crucially, the latest Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

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Top Rated Comments   
As a dual citizen of the United States and of Britain, it's not Obama's place to get involved in negotiations about the Falklands unless this assistance is requested by Britain (unlikely). The Falkland Islanders are of British descent and wish to remain under British rule. There are no Argentineans there to rule over and have not been for far longer than the Brits have been there.

The suggestion that America should push their nose in is as welcome to me, as a Brit, as the suggestion that, without an invitation, the Brits should suggest starting negotiations over whether the Chinese should have a ruling role in Hawaii has on me as an American. No way, Jose!

And don't forget, the Falklands War was started by Argentina to shore up a disliked dictatorship. They showed their colors by being quite willing to slaughter the Falklanders - heck, they "disappeared" their own Argentinean critics as a matter of routine. Is it really right to consider handing over power to them? A bit like saying "OK, Hitler, you lost the war, but we're prepared to negitiate you having power over the Jews."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Somebody in the media needs the ask Obama, "Mr. President, what would be the American position in the case of an imperialist aggression against the Falklands by Argentina?" or "What is your position on the Falkland referendum against imperial expansion by Argentina?"

This question would blow Obama's mind! Obama is clearly informed by the racial marxism of elite American academia. He simply cannot fathom that the white, European country is NOT the imperialist aggressor. One country invades another country's territory, searching for oil to placate its unhappy populace. I can't think of a better definition of imperialism, but Obama won't be able to see that because of his rigid perception of a racial bourgeois/proletariat dichotomy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The UN and most US administrations believe that local people should be able to determine their own destiny. CF - Kosovo, Libya, et al. Add to that the fact that the closest bit of Argentina is over 200 statute miles from the closest bit of the Falkland Islands and it seems the Argentina claim is greatly weakened. Also, Britain claimed the Islands in the mid-1700's. They occupied them in the 1830s and the population is entirely of British descent. Case closed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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If you support Argentina's claim for the return of the Falklands then you MUST support a claim by the UK for the return of the 13 American COLONIES. The logic is the same.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The population of the Falklands are virtually all ,99%, British and whats more 99.8% of them voted to remain British. There is no 'Colonial' issue whatsoever no 'Indigenous' population being suppressed at all.
Whats more Argentina NEVER owned the Falklands when they were in control Argentina was not even a Country just a SPANISH Colony and it was the USA who took the Falklands away from them during the Spanish/American war and gave them BACK to the British who had previously 'settled' them. Argentina as a 'Country' did not even come in to existence until long AFTER the UK took BACK possession of the Falklands.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Instead, Obama and Kerry, like Clinton before him, would rather curry favor with the failing, corrupt, and bullying socialist regime in Buenos Aires, and with the rest of the region’s left-wing basket cases, than show solidarity with a country that has long been one of America’s closest allies."

Exactly. This country's former steadfast loyalty to its allies disappeared with the ascent of this administration. None of them, especially Britain and Israel, can count on America's support, especially if abandoning them can curry favor with a socialist or Muslim regime somewhere.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep.. any day now we'll hear about the Portuguese wanting the French-controlled islands St. Pierre and Miquelon off Newfoundland they'd discovered.

The Falkland Islands affair re: Kirchner's stance is asinine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, the '..continued dialogue..' '..discussions..' shtick from Lurch, Pauper-looking-Pantsuit and Barack Kardashian is poorly-worded, plain as day 'code' for, 'We sure hope Britain gives up it's islands to the Socialist/Economic-hell err 'utopia' of Argentina's moronic, uhm 'enlightened' government. For that's what we want oh so badly for the USA'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think someone on this website said it best (I am paraphrasing):
Argentinians are Italians who speak Spanish, act French, and wish they were English. And for some reason they take orders from a leader with a German name...any wonder they don't know their a** from a hole in the ground?
(they do know how to play soccer though)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If Argentina is a victim of British imperialism because of the Falklands, the U.S. is a victim of British imperialism because of Canada. What part of Manifest Destiny don't those limeys understand?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As a dual citizen of the United States and of Britain, it's not Obama's place to get involved in negotiations about the Falklands unless this assistance is requested by Britain (unlikely). The Falkland Islanders are of British descent and wish to remain under British rule. There are no Argentineans there to rule over and have not been for far longer than the Brits have been there.

The suggestion that America should push their nose in is as welcome to me, as a Brit, as the suggestion that, without an invitation, the Brits should suggest starting negotiations over whether the Chinese should have a ruling role in Hawaii has on me as an American. No way, Jose!

And don't forget, the Falklands War was started by Argentina to shore up a disliked dictatorship. They showed their colors by being quite willing to slaughter the Falklanders - heck, they "disappeared" their own Argentinean critics as a matter of routine. Is it really right to consider handing over power to them? A bit like saying "OK, Hitler, you lost the war, but we're prepared to negitiate you having power over the Jews."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not the point. As an ally the US SHOULD back the UK on this - even if only verbally. Obummer does not do this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is a difference between backing the UK and meddling in its politics. The UK doesn't need America's help negotiating with the Argentines over the Falklands. We didn't do it last time the issue came to a head, why start now?

The only thing that worries me is whether the UK still has the ability to defend its territory and citizens if necessary. The British armed forces barely managed it back in the 80s. Today, I'm not sure they could even get to the Falklands, much less fight a war there. If negotiations broke down, would we be out of line helping the UK militarily?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, the US should back the UK. But I don't see why my point has any less merit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama seems to always like the underdog...except, of course if the underdog isn't a socialist/communist. He wouldn't want to upset Mother Russia or Father China.

Based upon recent photos of the actor in "The Bible", that would also explain why The Devil Didn't Go Down To Georgia.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So what is The Whine's position regarding Spanish & Portuguese imperialism against the Aztecs, et al.? If he's truly against imperialism hundreds of years later, he needs to decamp from America and return to his father's country of Kenya.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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