February 25, 2010
There’s been an enormous amount of right-wing empire wank sprayed over the comment pages over the last couple of weeks. The proximate cause has been the revival of the Argentinian’s claims over the Falklands in the wake of drilling operations commencing in the North Falklands Basin. This has taken the form of things that don’t cost anything to do, which is useful for a nation with no money. The Argies have made diplomatic representations to the UK, which perhaps cost as much as a phone call. They’ve convinced other nations with little money to issue a joint communique, for which perhaps they had to buy a pen. They’ve applied to the UN for a review of their sovereignty claims, which maybe needed a stamp.
What they haven’t done is make any form of military threat, which is because they can’t. Argentina spends 0.8% of its measly GDP on its military, in comparison to 2.4% spent by the UK. They’ve failed to fully replenish their airforce following the Falklands war, and in 2005 most of its high command was sacked for their involvement in a drug scandal. Their most notable achievement in recent history was converting a ground attack jet to using biofuel. They’re an army of druggies and hippies. They constitute no credible threat to the self-determination of the Falkland Islanders.
Despite this, much of the right-wing commentariat are indulging themselves in post-imperial fantasies of fighting off Johnny Foreigner and Keeping The Falklands British, ignoring the fact that it’s not actually an issue. This is a concern, inasmuch as it implies a future Tory government may not be able to provide proper strategic analysis of situations like this, over the sound of war drums inside their head.
The only way to respond to such a move which was made for blatant internal political reasons (remember, this is the president who forced her chief banker to resign when he objected to her further shafting the economy for political reasons) is to mock the Argies. Moon them when you’re flying over Buenos Aires. Giggle at their efforts to make like they actually matter. Blow raspberries at their embassy. Demonstrate very clearly that you don’t take them seriously. This will subvert their presidents’ intentions, by contributing towards making her look ridiculous on the world stage, and neutralising any potential political gain she might make. Hopefully she’ll be replaced by someone who’ll not try something so stupid in the future.
However, there is one part of this series of events which is serious, and does deserve further attention. That’s the fact that the Americans have refused to take our side on a territorial dispute. That’s a pretty fucking basic part of an alliance. Would they be on our side in the extremely unlikely event that France laid claim to Guernsey? Would they support our holding onto Ascencion Isle? Would they side with us over Gibraltar? Without certainty on fundamental issues like this, it should be impossible for us to continue to support their military adventures.