Thursday, February 25, 2010

US turns back on UK over Falklands

The Falkland Islands have a mixed history of differing claims to sovereignty. The French first established a colony there in 1764, the British established one on another part of the islands in 1765. France and Spain were in Alliance, so France handed over its colony to Spain in 1767. This effectively put it under the same colonial administration as Argentina.

Spain attacked the British colony bringing the two countries on the brink of war, which was settled by Spain capitulating and letting the British settlement be re-established. However, Britain abandoned the Falklands in 1776 leaving it all to Spain (although also leaving a plaque asserting British sovereignty). Spain similarly abandoned the islands in 1811, also leaving a plaque. From this point on for some years, the Falklands ended up being under no effective control, but being a harbour for various fishing, whaling and other vessels.

Argentina gained independence in 1816, and in 1820 had sailed to the islands and asserted sovereignty over them. Between then and 1833, merchant Luis Vernet sought permission to settle there from both the Argentines and the British. He received assurances, and the Argentines appointed him Governor in 1829, to British (and US) protest. However, by 1833 Britain had re-established itself on the islands and ordered the Argentines to leave, which they did. A British colony was established and has remained relatively undisturbed, notwithstanding the more recent Falklands War.

Argentina claims it was first, as it inherited the French then Spanish settlements, and was forcibly ejected from the Falklands. The UK claims that it has a parallel claim, that the Spanish abandoned the Falklands (like the British did), and there was no indigenous or Spanish/Argentine colony established before the British colony. Moreover most of the current population opposes Argentine sovereignty.

In essence, for all of the debate the population of the Falklands do not want to be governed from Buenos Aires. Arising from this are claims to exploit the Exclusive Economic Zone around the Falklands for energy exploration. The beleagured Argentine government is seeking to distract attention from its own economic mismanagement by confronting the UK over this.

The Obama Administration's response? Neutrality.

According to the Times ""The Obama Administration “is trying to split the difference as much as it can because it knows that coming round to the British position would again create a lot of ill will in the region"

The leftwing Argentine government, beleagured by high inflation, is challenging British attempts to take advantage of the UK EEZ as it surrounds the Falklands.

Argentina's claim will no doubt have the backing of the cabal of socialists that now run many Latin American countries, none of whom give a damn that most Falkland Islanders want to remain British.

The bigger point is that the "special relationship" is over. The Obama Administration is reverting to the form REJECTED by Ronald Reagan, the realpolitik preferred by the State Department.

Who will know if John McCain would have done the same, would George Bush have just thumbed his nose at Britain given its close support in Afghanistan and Iraq?

One thing IS sure, from the DVD set gifted to Gordon Brown to this, there can be no question that the Obama Administration doesn't think the UK deserves consideration beyond that of just another friendly country - like Argentina, France or South Africa.

3 comments:

lollyscramble said...

Two words: Monroe Doctrine.

Even with McCain America would never try too hard to help a European power keep sovereignty over any part of the Americas.

Grenada is a good example of this as well. Britain was never asked or consulted (from memory).

Mo said...

The Islands are still ours and whether the islanders want or do not want to live under our rule is irrelevant. Besides the whole "conflict" was based around a filthy political maneuver by Tatcher. Her political position was critical, no way she would be getting re-elected. With the Falkland War and the incoming patriotism, everybody jumped up in joy at seeing her again Minister.
She sinked the Belgrano when it was sailing away from the Malvinas exclusion zone. She killed hundreds of lives and eliminated any chance of a diplomatic solution. The peruvian peace plans were invalid the moment violence took place and the world sneered. We only counted with Peru´s support.

The Count said...

"The Islands are still ours and whether the islanders want or do not want to live under our rule is irrelevant." - so I take it you don't believe in democracy or human rights then.
"Besides the whole "conflict" was based around a filthy political maneuver by Tatcher." - No, Galtieri started the war by invading.
"She sinked the Belgrano when it was sailing away from the Malvinas exclusion zone." - It was a war. Ships can turn around.
"She killed hundreds of lives and eliminated any chance of a diplomatic solution." Diplomatic solution? Argentina invaded!

PS. How are the islands when the British were there first, before Argentina existed as an independent country?