Let’s congratulate Argentina on having a peaceful civilian government, pledged to pursue its national objectives by non-military means. But at the same time we must condemn them for wishing to colonise the Falkland Islands and deny the right of self-determination to the settled population, one that has lived there in peace for generations. Argentina does not recognise that the Islanders have any say in their own future, they will only negotiate with the British government. And while they lobby world opinion to pressurise us into entering negotiations over sovereignty, the reality is those negotiations would be a sham. All Argentina wants to hear is a date for a hand-over.
The Falkland Islands have never belonged to Argentina and their claim is based on half-truths and outright lies. Their claim to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has even less foundation, while their claim to Southern Thule has no merit at all. However their claim to own part of Antarctica is actually in flagrant disregard of international law. In fact, Argentina has a long history of disregarding international law and the treaties they have signed and they are still breaking them with impunity today. You can read a detailed, highly academic and well researched analysis of the history of the Falkland Islands and a point-by-point rebuttal of Argentina’s claim at www.falklandshistory.org.
The harm that Argentina’s campaign is doing is considerable. They are hampering economic development on the Islands by blockading international air and sea traffic that would otherwise route through Argentina and would be to mutual advantage; they are intimidating legitimate fishing and oil exploration activity that would also be to mutual advantage; and they are undermining friendly relations and trade between Britain and Argentina to the detriment of both sides. On an individual level we all get along very well indeed, but official Argentine government policy is to play the Falkland’s card for political advantage at home, and lie to the rest of the world in pursuit of their aims abroad.
Britain is never going to abandon the Islanders, not after what happened in 1982. If only the Argentines had been a little more patient, we had sold or were about to withdraw key naval assets that would have prevented us liberating the Islands. Had they but waited a couple of months they would still be there now, in occupation and immovable. And that being the case, the Islanders would be gone. Argentina at that time was ruled by a ruthless military Junta, one that slaughtered any of its own people it deemed a nuisance. Thousands of innocent people simply disappeared, and the Falkland Islanders would have disappeared with them. As far as the current Argentine government is concerned, it’s as if they already don’t exist.
The sacrifice of 255 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and merchant seamen means the Islanders live in freedom today, and everyone who honours their memory will see it stays that way.
And now a word for my American friends. Don’t suck up to Argentina. It’s not big and it’s not right. We stick our necks out every time you need our support, we’re with you through thick and thin however hard it is for us economically these days, and believe me it is hard. Examine Argentina’s claim and be honest with them, they have no claim. You gave us invaluable support in 1982 when we needed it. So stick to your principles, that’s all I’m asking, and don’t let Argentina colonise a freedom-loving people.
And don’t call them the Malvinas.