Coffee House

Bare Argentine aggression

17 February 2010

The Falklands are sovereign British territory and must be defended. The Times reports that Argentina’s President Kirchner has issued a decree (how quaintly autocratic) that all ships sailing in waters claimed by Argentina will require a permit. Presumably, that includes Desire Petroleum’s rig, which is en route to drill for an oil field comparable to the North Sea field.

Over at Conservative Home, Daniel Hamilton points out that the decree contravenes international law and that Britain has a right to explore for oil unimpeded. So what are the Argentines up to? Nile Gardner explains:

‘If the floundering, corrupt and increasingly unpopular government in Argentina is foolish enough to choose a confrontation, it must be prepared to face the consequences.’

The parallels with the domestically unpopular Galtieri are ominous. There are currently 1,300 military personnel, a destroyer and 4 Typhoons stationed in the Falklands. If Kirchner doesn’t back down should Britain risk escalating the situation by increasing that deployment? Whilst I have no desire to see Brown ungainly clambering about on tanks and quoting Churchill, the deployment must be increased. Aside from potential oil revenues, an increase might deter idiotic Argentine aggression against British citizens.

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Show comments
  • antikelper

    argentina no quiere ni puede ganar una guerra a gran breta


    This gets more and more interesting with more and more interlinking parallels. Brown’s left wing government in trouble here, Cristina (and Nestor) Kirchner’s left wing government in trouble over there. In short, nothing would suit both Brown and the Kirchners more than a stand to over Las Malvinas.

    I would also guess that Brown hasn’t forgotten that up to when we said “Gotcha” last time, Maggie’s chances weren’t even money to win in ’83.

    Have any of Brown’s close people and any of the Kirchners mob been seen talking with Comrade Zapatero recently?

    Wikipaedia on the Kirchners makes interesting reading.

  • Marcher Baron

    Hands up all those who contributed to the “Vulcan To The Skies” campaign – looks like it’ll be needed again if they can raise enough to keep it maintained. If I were an Argy I’d be sabre rattling, too. After all, Britain’s fighting two wars with massive overstretch, has a numpty in charge of the MoD and a seriously deluded Scotsman for PM – plus she’s flat broke. La Presidenta must think we’re a pushover.

  • Dixon

    Ha! Back in 1982 I defended the war among ny associates by referring to hypothetical future oil exploitation. I may be a broken clock but I get some things right!

    The military comparisons with then are double-sided. On the one hand, the navy that re-took the islands in 1982 were sunk by John Knott with his grammatically weird policy of “less ships” almost as soon as the battle ended. Im no naval expert, but I remember various such experts saying that we would never be able to do it again.

    On the other hand, a destroyer, four Typhoons and 1,200 personnel is a very far cry from one clapped out unarmed fisheries vessel and fifty lightly armed marines that was the only garrison there in 1982.

    Moreover, the global political climate has changed a lot in 28 years. I think Argentina would have to be pretty foolhardy to attempt to do what they did then. For a start, they would clearly be far from unopposed this time. Then they would find themselves abruptly consigned to the global dog-house. Finally, who is going to locate and extract any oil there if not the British? British engineers, with British equipment operated by British companies.

    Maybe they think a bit of sabre rattling is a fair prelude for a cut of the proceeds. which mught not be ubreasonable anyway.

  • EyeSee

    The worst impact of New Labour has been the corruption it has been responsible for and in particular at the top of institutions. The forces seem to be generally led by idiotic thinking senior officers. Sailors captured by Iranians, people captured by Somali pirates under the Navy’s nose. Like binge drinking, the problem is the thinking, that is the thinking behind the NL idea of running things; no accountability, lies and risk avoidance. Political Correctness in the flesh. And to cure that you need to get rid of New Labour. So please Dave, don’t keep sounding like you want to be them.

  • Ancient Mariner

    Cast a glance at Wikipedia. The Argentinians have 60 fighter aircraft and more ground attack. Many purchased since 1982. They have a dozen newish frigates and destroyers armed with Exocet, torpedoes and anti-air missiles based on American models.

    The entire Royal Navy is now smaller than the 1982 task force – and it’s already spread thin from Somalia to the Gulf. Sea Harrier is gone and the RAF Harriers that replaced them are bombers with no guns. The missiles for the new Type 45 destroyers haven’t even started production yet after failing their most recent test. The old, Type 42 destroyers are going to sea unarmed. Speculation is that their 40 year old missiles are in an unsafe condition. We have no significant, long range anti-air capability in the Royal Navy.

    The cunning plan to reinforce the Falklands by flying in a battalion of paratroopers within 16 hours depends on 4 Typhoons being able to hold off the entire Argentinian air force of nearly 100 aircraft plus a navy that’s probably bigger than the task force the RN could deploy to recover the islands. I bet there aren’t even a dozen anti-ship missiles in the Falklands for the Typhoons to carry, let alone a hundred anti-air missiles.

    I wouldn’t like to bet on who would be the winners this time round.

  • cmp

    If I were El Presedente I’d know that whatever we did the Brits would never use nukes.

  • Ian Walker

    “floundering, corrupt and increasingly unpopular government”

    I never realised we had so much in common with Argentina.

  • Sean Haffey

    The Falklands are 300-400 miles from Argentina. On the basis of distance the UK could similarly claim

    – the Faroes (and by a process of hopscotch, Iceland)
    – Ireland
    – most of NW France
    – the Low Countries

    and so on.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean we HAVE to claim these places: just that we could, following the same logic.

    May I therefore suggest we aim for

    – the Champagne region of France, and a selection of better-kept chateaux
    – Versailles
    – some of the better chocolate-making bits of Belgium
    – A fine selection of Dutch cheese

    Oh, and if there are any decent cattle ranches in southern Argentina then what’s sauce for the goose … yep, using the Falklands we’ll claim those ranches too.

    Oil may grease the wheels, but good food is irreplaceable.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    You all misunderstand the Argentine invasion plan. A battalion of Argentine Marines will arrive individually in small boats. Before they can be disarmed they will claim asylum. Their guns are of course required tools of their profession, and cannot be taken away. And they will get fifteen years of legal process and appeals before they can be sent home. If they lose their passports and refuse to admit their place of origin they can’t even be sent back.

    If you think a country can’t be invaded that way, go to London and look around.

  • Roy Smith

    What comes to mind is the inability of the Royal Navy to protect small boats off Somali from pirate attacks just a stones throw away. But then I guess they were under instructions not to upset the pirates or take any unnecessary risks.

  • John Rattray

    but I thought we were at war with Eastasia?

  • Olaf

    The most modern jet aircraft the Argies have are from the early 80s and there are not many of them. The Argentine government are just making noises to try to ‘big up’ themselves at home. They are in no position to follow through with anything on a significant scale.

    No, a nice clean war with Argentina will not save Brown.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    DZ, I think you will find I used a lower-case a for admiralty. As in ‘If blood be the price of admiralty, lord God we have paid in full.”

    (No, you’re right, but MOD(Navy) or whatever wouldn’t have worked, would it?)

    I was on an RN ship once. Do you know they don’t have walls, floors, ceilings or windows? Or toilets?

  • Austin Barry


    Don’t worry shipmates, we have Able Seaman Arthur “Mr Bean” Batchelor and Acting Leading Seaman Faye “Fags and Hijab” Turney on standby in the South Atlantic.

    Cue the Captain Pugwash theme.

  • Yow Min Lye

    The most important deterrent to Argentine mischief is not so much the assets on the runway at Port Stanley as the demonstrable intent of Her Majesty’s government to defend this piece of British sovereign territory – something that was so sadly lacking in the opening months of 1982.

    That said, then, as now, it is something that is much easier to demonstrate if we possess a blue water navy capable of projecting deterrence 8,000 miles from home.

  • The Rampant Pansy

    @Andyinbrum: Re Typhoon’s effectiveness. I’m no great fan of battlefield calculus, but even if one assumes an unprecedented and perfect launch to kill ratio of 1:1, depending on the weapons fit, they could account for perhaps sixteen attacking aircraft before they would be forced to return and rearm.

    That also assumes a method would not be found to destroy them on the ground. Suppression of enemy air defence and the gaining of at least local air superiority would be a vital precondition for any invasion: as UK air defence doctrine demands combat air patrols plug the gap between very short range air defence (machine guns, HVM and close-in ship-borne systems), destroying or neutralising the Typhoons before they could get airborne would be a quick win to remove that capability. Keeping the buggers on permanent standby would be ruinously expensive.

    Plus I bet not all four are airworthy anyway…

  • Anne Wotana Kaye 1

    The day Brown’s clumsy paws took over the reins at 10 Downing Street, a friend who believes she has direct contact with the spirit world, muttered to me, “That man has got a jinx on him, but heaven help all of us.” Lately I have had pause to wonder if she wasn’t being fey.

  • AndyinBrum

    A couple of nuke subs known to be lurking in the vicinity will prevent any serious invasion attempts. Plus Air to air refuling is such that the Tornados have the range to strike anywhere, and that’s before we bring in tomahawks.

    The Typhoon is an aircraft quite capable of gaining air superiority against most airforces, 4 of them will be extreamly difficult to beat.

  • Sir Graphus

    The Argies have seen the robust response our chaps put up to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They seen they way we’re dealing with Somali pirates. It’s worth a pop.

  • Alan Douglas

    So the Argies invade, or at least sabre-rattle, say in 2 months time. (Timing to be calculated by PM – no, not that one, the Fondler of Boys one)

    Brown calls a national emergency, cancels the elections, and … ?

    I have been waiting for him to find such an excuse. The colour Brown forever.

    Alan Douglas

  • Charlie

    The figure I have read is 60B barrels of oil around the Falklands.

  • DZ

    Rhoda Klapp – You will find that the Admiralty was swallowed up (or folded into) the Ministry of Defence in the early 1960’s, This was shortly after the Admiralty offices were transferred from wartime shed accommodation in Pinner, to Earls Court.

    Probably there is a Committee somewhere with the word ‘Admiralty’ in it, but the entire tradition and ethos of the Admiralty ended 50 years ago.

  • The Rampant Pansy

    I recall a similar flap in 2006 that came to naught.

    This will be an interesting test of the practical aspects of the Special Relationship. Our collection assets in S America are pretty limited, but our access to US overhead imagery remains, and the quality and speed of dissemination is vastly better than in 1982. If Argentina wants to assemble and embark an invasion fleet, it will need a deception plan on the scale of OVERLORD; and, if an invasion is as imminent as the Bravo Two Zero fanatics in the mainstream media seem to think, this little diplomatic stunt would deflate that rather smartly.

    A precautionary reinforcement – at the time that the MoD is about to announce a c15% cut in manpower – is a luxury we cannot afford, both in financial and in political ‘narrative’ terms. Sadly the commitment to legacy elective wars trumps the need to deal with emerging threats to the vital national interest.

  • David Ossitt

    Patricia Shaw

    “Brown clambering about on tanks and quoting Churchill?” What a stupid insult. Has Brown got form as a warmonger? Or would you rather see Cameron sliming all over a tank instead?”

    No Patricia; Brown has not got form as a warmonger, what he has, in abundance is form as a coward, a bully, a braggart, an incompetent, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, not fit to be compared with a true Prime Minister, Churchill.

  • David Ossitt

    “If the floundering, corrupt and increasingly unpopular government in Argentina is foolish enough to choose a confrontation, it must be prepared to face the consequences.”

    Now this is a superb opportunity to get out of a stupid war (Afghanistan) that we can’t win.

    And if it is necessary; to get into one that we can and must win.

    It is our duty to protect the Falklands against any Argentinean aggression.

  • Beer Moth

    Patricia Shaw

    With your usual lack of attention, I think you missed the craft of DB’s gentle nudge to the reader through a little historical levity. Such sprinklings lend charm to written comment.

    You should try it sometime. Perhaps during one of your less fraught moments, if indeed there are such things.

  • Hysteria

    “an oil field comparable to the North Sea field”


    Which field? Brent? Forties? Britannia?

    Does the rest of the article have similar precision (or lack thereof?)

  • TrevorsDen

    UKIP delusional as usual.

    We have a nuclear powered hunter killer submarine in the South Atlantic and jet fighter planes on the Falklands.

    Not an easy invasion target.

    This is as usual politicking over oil rights.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Oh don’t be bloody silly, TGIF.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Can we get HMS Cornwall’s boarding crew together again?

  • emil

    Vulture, just hope they don’t tell Brown about all that oil, he’d probably exchange it for a couple of magic beans, or a few wheelbarrows full of Euros.

  • Patricia Shaw

    “Brown clambering about on tanks and quoting Churchill?” What a stupid insult. Has Brown got form as a warmonger? Or would you rather see Cameron sliming all over a tank instead?

  • Andy

    Ho ho. Thanks to McBruin we don’t have an awful lot left to send.

    We certainly cannot fund another conflict of any sort.

  • Mills

    Wouldn’t it be sensible for David Cameron to write to Gordon Brown proposing that, as an election is looming, a bipartisan front be presented to the Argentines? If he is seen to have been taking the lead on this, it would be difficult for Brown subsequently to attempt to persuade people that he is the great war-leader. Furthermore, by doing that rather than giving bellicose interviews or speeches, it would allow the Tories to escape being painted as exploiting the issue themselves for electoral purposes, and prevent potentially unflattering comparisons being made between DC and Mrs T. Lastly, it may even prompt the Government to do the right think and beef up the defence of the islands.

  • Bloody Bill Brock

    Well nows the time for the Argy’s to go for it. We have a rowing boat and a barrage balloon, with 5 fully equiped men with bladders on sticks. Its a disgrace.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Cui bono? The admiralty?

  • Fred Smith

    Of course if you were Argentine what better time than to invade the Falklands again. Four Typhoons aren’t going to sink many ships, one destroyer only needs to be hit by one Exocet and we don’t have enough Navy left to muster a task force. Even if we did the people who need to do the fighting are in Afghanistan.

  • Vulture

    My brother-in-law, who’s something in the City, advised me several weeks ago to invest in Falklands oil.

    He reckons there’s enough black stuff down here to pay our debts and save Britain’s bacon (though not Bruin’s, obviously)- just as North Sea Oil did in the 1970s.

    How wise it was of Mags to hang on to those islands in the 1980s.


    Somewhere, somehow this has got to be a conspiracy to promote War Leader Brown.

    IF it is and IF it is successful it’s exactly what the Cameron Tories deserve. By electing to prioritize the Bottomless Pit and the African Dictators’ Swiss Bank Account Fund over Defence, they have never been in a position to stick it to Gordon over his underfunding of the Armed Forces.

  • Mark Cannon

    We’d better start rebuilding the Navy and getting the Paras and Marines out of Afghanistan.

  • Nicholas

    Just think, if Blair had not let the Fat Bounder muscle in he might have had his legitimate war just in time for the General Election.

    As it is we might have to put up with the Kount (check spelling) of Kirkcaldy’s dithering and “M . m . m . m . m . mr Speaker” bumbling.

    Mind you, I can’t help thinking that the Argentinians might legitimately be saying:-

    “If the floundering, corrupt and increasingly unpopular government in Britain is foolish enough to choose a confrontation, it must be prepared to face the consequences.”

    Although the latter expectation, for any Labour government, is unthinkable. Face the consequences of their actions? Goodness me, no. That is for some other mug.

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