Early in April 2012, Argentina was courting former European colonial powers in their diplomatic offensive to “reclaim“ the Falkland Islands. If this was their goal, the Argentinian seizure of the YPF oil company is a huge diplomatic own-goal.
To any Argentinians supporting the claim that “los Malvinas son Argentinas”, I would ask, since when? The first inhabitants of the Falklands were FRENCH and BRITISH! Argentine claims cannot therefore be based on priority of discovery, landfall or staking a claim. The Falklands have been British since before Argentina existed. If anyone says that the Falklands belong to Argentina and that its British inhabitants should be deported (or their rights to self-determination otherwise overruled), perhaps they will also say that Argentina belongs to native American Indians and that all Spanish-speaking people should be deported “back to” Europe, or their natural rights otherwise infringed.
Is the Argentine claim based on proximity of the islands? Then perhaps also:
- Cuba should be given to the United States,
- the Faroe Islands should be British,
- Cyprus should be Turkish or Syrian,
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon should be Canadian,
- Singapore should again be part of Malaysia, and
- the Canary Islands should be part of Western Sahara or part of whichever country ultimately possesses that continental territory!
When all Greeks have been deported from Cyprus, all French deported from Saint Pierre and Miquelon, all Spanish deported from the Canary Islands, and all Chinese deported from Singapore or otherwise culturally diluted with an artificial influx of Malaysians and when their land, political power or commercial rights have been confiscated; then knock on my door again and tell me;
¡los Malvinas son Argentinas!
Arguments relating to the islanders' rights and their cultural differences have mostly fallen on deaf ears in Argentina so far. We have also heard about Argentina refusing docking rights for any ships serving the interests of the Falkland Islanders. One might think, based on this futile effort to make the lives of the Falkland Islanders more difficult, that the current Argentinian political leaders had never heard of Aesop's Fables. If Argentina ever had any valid claim to The Falklands, however tenuous that claim might have been; she relinquished that claim when she invaded the islands and antagonised the local population, thus legitimising the use of force and affirming moral acceptance of the eventual victors' stewardship over the islands.
Two wrongs don't make a right: neither the expropriation of foreign investors' money through two large-scale debt defaults, nor the technically legalised theft of YPF, nor a campaign of belligerence toward innocent island inhabitants, nor a modern-day colonisation of the Falklands/Malvinas by Argentina; can right the wrongs of European colonialism in South America during former times. If the Falklands dispute is to be resolved and the various sides reconciled; we must set our sights higher than land, oil or fishing rights (though quite naturally, those things are important). In the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, the real solution is for Argentina and the United Kingdom to behave in a neighbourly fashion and seriously discuss how to share stewardship and profits for natural resources most fairly. The two sides were involved in such discussions until 2004, when Argentina is reported to have unilaterally abandoned the discussions to start the current round of belligerent diplomacy.
The real solution to resource and border disputes generally is to reach a point where the various interested parties are so friendly toward each other that the differences between what is “mine” and what is “yours” don't matter any more. In the dispute between privatizing and nationalizing industrialists, the real solution is for there to be a balanced, mutually supportive relationship between the interests of government, oil company & workers, land-owners, local inhabitants and wildlife.
In Argentina, the Falklands “dispute” has always been a domestic political side-show; apparently a distraction tactic by desperate politicians. Britain fought over the Falklands when there was yet no evidence of any oil or gas, so let's not entertain any insinuations that Britain's legitimate military victory over Argentina demonstrates some dark kleptocratic side to the remnants of the British Empire. Not so! For the British, this was a just war; and the British victory and its legacy — including in its wake, the fall of that brutal Argentine dictatorship — should be celebrated in a friendly and mutually respectful way by British and Argentinian people alike. Let us settle our disputes and agree on a new slogan:
¡Las Malvinas pertenecen a Dios — el padre común de la familia humana!
— and further, under God, the islands belong to their inhabitants; and to whomsoever they will share them as brothers, friends, benefactors or protectors.