Coffee House

Cameron vs Kirchner

18 June 2011

After stating the obvious at PMQs this week — that the Falklands would remain
sovereign British territory as long as they want to be — David Cameron has come under heavy fire from the Argentine President, Cristina Kirchner. As today’s papers "">report, she yesterday described our PM as "arrogant," and said his comments were an
"expression of mediocrity and almost of stupidity". But there is nothing new in the British position, which has always been that there can be no negotiations over sovereignty unless and
until such a time as the Falkland Islanders so wish.

The issue has recently heated up after the United States sided with Argentina in demanding that Britain open negotiations over the status of the Falkland Islands, joining such stalwart allies as
Nicaragua and Venezuela. The OAS declaration uses the Argentinean name for the Falklands, the Malvinas Islands, and calls for exploring "all possible avenues towards a peaceful settlement of
the dispute," and resuming sovereignty negotiations "as soon as possible." The introduction of the resolution was in turn triggered by the arrival of a British oil rig, the Ocean
Guardian, in the waters to the north of the Falklands.

That, of course, will not happen and the dispute will die down. By the latest figures, exports
from Britain to Argentina stand at around £295 million, while imports are at £532 million. Britain is Argentina’s 14th largest supplier of goods and their sixth largest investor. This
represents a lot more actual income for both Britain and Argentina than the potential income from oil exploration around the Falklands, the supposed cause of the recent dispute. Given this, there
is little risk of a real rift, nor a military invasion by Argentina. But the dispute will not die down before President Kirchner is milking it for all its worth. And that says all you need to know
about contemporary Argentine politics — focused on gestures and dreams of future riches, rather than pragmatism and actual income.

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  • Luis

    I think that you guys are the clasic naive people who hear Cameron or the british government say that “the inhabitants should choose their own government” and believe it becouse it sound good and makes sence, but fails to underestand the history, the cencus of the population, the international law and UN Decolonization Committe.
    Responding to incorrect post from you guys:
    1) the uk did not help Argentina to gain independence. At the contrary Argentina got independence defeating the british in two invasions on the city of Buenos Aires.
    2) britain only invited Argentina to solve the sovereignty dispute to the ICJ only for the Malvina’s dependencies not for the island itself (go to the ICJ web).
    3) Acording to the british census on the “Falklands” less than 45% of the inhabitants were born in the islands, while almost the same amount of people who born in the islands did it exactly in Great Britain or other BOT.
    4) We are talking of a colonie, not a selfgoverning territorie. Read the list of colonies of the UN.

  • mike

    There is no OIL there!!!
    In 2012 we will finally realize.

  • Filipe

    I’m from Portugal, a country that is a friend of both UK and Argentina. And I think that is obvious that Cameron is right. It should be the islanders to decide their future (and it looks very obvious that they want to remain british). Argentina controlled the Falklands for less than 10 years in the XIX century and had never more than some dozens of colonists there. By God sake, get over it! And if Argentina invades again, she will loose. A single british nuclear submarine can destroy a entire flotilla of the argentinian navy and air supremacy over the area to transport the invasion force is not guaranteed. Four tornados can be enough to stall the entire argentinian air force until reinforcements from Britain; and the 1.000 british troops stationeed in the Islands are among the best traineed and equiped forces in the world. Even without submarines and harriers, the british can win (and can Britain afford to loose? Is she does, it’s the end of her position as a great power). War is not only numbers; training and technology make superior forces.

  • Daniel

    Looking at this from a neutral point of view I still fail to see the argument. The islanders want to remain under British rule. Simple. End of discussion. Besides…..the Falklanders are almost entirely independent and a seperate sovereignty in their own right except for foreign relations and defence

  • rob

    Our response to the US support for this motion should be to pull an infantry battalion out of Afghanistan, fly them back to Britain for a week with their families, then send them on an intensive arctic warfare course. When Obama asks why, we should respond that we cannot be expected to defend America’s interests when they refuse to defend ours.

  • Jorge

    Malvinas Islands are part of Argentina, temporaly and ilegaly taken by the british. But that situation won’t last for ever. You’ll see!

  • john

    There are two positions:
    The islanders, and the British position.
    Falklands islands is not a country, it’s a British colony.
    1)Maintaining the Falklands(4 aircrafts , 2000 soldiers, supplies, etc.) costs US$1000 million a year, only this point, makes Falklands islands a very bad business for the UK.
    2)South America hate to the British position, has become so profound , that It has big impact in trade between UK and most of SouthAmerica countries.
    3)Most of the Falklands population are just soldiers.

  • Graham Asher

    I went to Argentina a few years ago and loved the people and the country. But I got the strong impression that it’s not a mature or grown-up place because of the absurd obsession with the Falklands. There’s a sign on the border with Chile, in a remote part of Patagonia, saying ‘Las Malvinas son argentinas’, and news stands in Buenos Aires sell national maps with ‘Las Malvinas’ shown at an exaggerated scale, with a capital named Puerto Argentino. Irredentism of this type is ridiculous, especially given the neglect of Patagonia – an area the size of Spain in which agriculture has collapsed because of overgrazing and deforestation. Argentina needs to grow up. France has got over the Channel Islands, we have got over Calais, and the Norwegians have got over the Shetland Islands.

  • Yam Yam

    I don’t see the Obama administration rushing to hand back Guam to the Spanish.

    But then the Yanks always have had a mote in their eye when it comes to the ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’ of others.

  • Dennis Churchill

    Cogito Ergosum
    June 19th, 2011 11:46am
    There is increasing doubt about any Saxon “invasions” (see The Origins of the British—Stephen Oppenheimer) and whether a Germanic language was spoken in the south of Britain prior to the Roman invasion.
    Does not fit with “all immigrants…” so is not widely discussed.

  • Morgando

    This is blatant electioneering by Mrs K ahead of October election – in reality – neither she or the rest of the argentinian population really give a f*** about the place – and having been there, I can understand why.

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