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March 12, 2013

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shah8

You just couldn't compete with all the wags that got dead pigs covered, could you?

Jib Halyard

Of course, in the case of Hong Kong, there actually was a previous owner we could turn the territory over to, as clearly spelled out in the 99-year lease. In the case of the Falklands, not so much...

john b

Remember HK wasn't on a 99-year lease, though (only the New Territories).

As many people have pointed out over the years, the most interesting comparator for the UK's treatment of the Falkland Islanders (which, in itself, is a Good Thing) is its treatment of the Chagos Islanders (which, not so much).

chris y

Only slightly interesting, since the answer is 1) US pressure and 2) melanin. We can go on to the next question now.

Igor Belanov

Given the constant pressure for defence cuts I wonder how determined the government will be to protect the Falkland Islands. They will certainly want to keep sovereignty for jingoistic reasons as much as anything, but would the threatened use of Trident really be a legitimate or practical policy for the defence of the self-determination of the 2'000 'Britons' living tens of thousands of miles from the mainland?

Chris williams

You can protect the Falklands against a coup de main relatively cheaply, once you've poured the concrete. It is poured. In any case, the Argentine armed forces ain't what they were.

Jib Halyard

Yes the treatment of the Chagos Islanders was a disgrace. Does it logically follow from that that we should turn the Falklanders and their homes over to the neighbouring expansionists?

Chris williams

No. Also, I think you'll find that the word you needed to use there wasn't 'was' but 'is'.

Jib Halyard

OK, OK, "is". And they should repatriated and compensated. Obviously. But my point about "Whataboutism" still stands...

chris y

I don't see anybody playing Whataboutism here. Everybody agrees that at a minimum any resolution of the Falklands/Malvinas dispute must recognise the right of the islanders to stay there on their own terms. The comparison with the Chagos Islands stands only to cite an example of how cavalier the British government can be with the rights of BOI peoples if they are inconvenient or "not one of us". More a warning than a what about.

Jib Halyard

agreed

john b

The melanin thing for Chagossians is obviously significant.

I'm not sure the US pressure thing is quite such a clincher: causing minor inter-ally strife by saying "we're not extending the lease on your army base, sorry" seems rather less inconvenient than, say, fighting a war.

Phil

The melanin thing for Chagossians is obviously significant.

All this time I've been reading 'melanin' as 'melamine' and wondering vaguely if Chris had meant to post to the milk powder thread (and if so where the US pressure came in). OK, got it now.

Richard J

Erm, me too.

ajay

Everybody agrees that at a minimum any resolution of the Falklands/Malvinas dispute must recognise the right of the islanders to stay there on their own terms.

Except that isn't AFAIK what the Argentinians believe; they're not islanders, they're British colonists, you see.

Cian

I'm not sure the US pressure thing is quite such a clincher.

Given that one of the main points of British foreign policy over the years has been maintaining the 'special relationship', you may want to rethink that.

Cian

Given the constant pressure for defence cuts I wonder how determined the government will be to protect the Falkland Islands.

The political damage if they didn't would be immense. Particularly after Iraq.

Phil

Everyone - including the Argentinian government - recognises that the islanders have rights, and I don't see anyone disputing the present adult generation's right to stay put. Whether they have the right to stay "on their own terms" - which effectively means the British government's terms - is another matter. Apart from anything else, "their own terms" could potentially include inalienable property rights and the right to pass them on to the next generation, i.e. the right to remain indefinitely.

One Argentinian Web site I looked at just now was suggesting a "Chinese" solution - 50 years and it's yours, and those who want to stay can stay. Any UK government with any sense would have offered something like this years ago. Bear in mind it's not just what the Argentinians might prefer that's at issue here; a UN committee on decolonisation has been at work (or at least in existence) since the early 1960s, and the Falklands are still on their much-diminished to-do list. When Kirchner says that Argentina's complying with the UN's wishes on the Falklands and Britain's not, she has actually got a point.

Jib Halyard

The only possible resolution to the Falklands issue will present itself several generations from now, when the Argentinians eventually give up their spurious claim.
As for the UN committee on decolonisation, its work would certainly not be over if Argentina had control of the Falklands.

Dan Hardie

Oh, Christ, the terrible injustices suffered by Argentina because of the existence of a few thousand sheep farmers on a couple of rocky islands a very long way from Argentine coastal waters.

The legitimate claim to the Falkland Islands by this or any previous government of Argentina is also precisely zero, since the Islands are not in Argentine waters as defined by the most generous reading of international law, nor have they ever been settled by Argentine citizens.

The number of reasons for believing that the Falkland Islands are a 'colony' in need of 'decolonisation' in the way that, say, Algeria, Rhodesia or Angola were colonies, in which white settlers dispossessed and violently oppressed indigenous populations, is precisely zero.(UN bureaucrats sitting on cushy committees with very little raison d'etre may have reasons for ignoring this rather startlingly obvious fact.)

The harm done to any Argentine citizen by the existence of the Falkland Islands in their current state is precisely zero. (The harm done to Argentine citizens by their Government's mismanagement of their economy is rather more than zero, to say nothing of the harm done by a certain previous regime's habit of murdering its own citizens by the tens of thousands.)

One can see why Argentine politicians and generals would rather talk about the Falklands than subjects rather closer to home, but there is no good reason why British leftists should join in the charade.

Of course, the reason British leftists- a few- do join in that charade is because of The Evil Margaret Thatcher. Since she said the Falklands were British, they simply cannot be so, no matter how spurious any claim to the contrary- just as, at the time, you had fools like Tony Benn endorsing the claims of a junta that was busy torturing and murdering its own citizens. Those stuck in the '80s are quite welcome to stay there.

Igor Belanov

Sounds like you are stuck in the '80s too. Argentina has been democratic for about 30 years now.
The Falklands are clearly an international anomaly, and as such call for some kind of international solution. I agree that there is no practical reason why Argentina should want the Falklands, but there is no practical reason why the Falkland Islanders should want to be British either. There could quite easily be a solution that involves a transfer of sovereignty while maintaining autonomy for the people that live there.

Jib Halyard

"The Falklands are clearly an international anomaly, and as such call for some kind of international solution."
That's a non-sequitur. At least it would be, if the first half even meant anything.
Also, what would you define as a "practical" reason for one wanting to retain one's own nationality and not being forced into allegiance to someone else's flag?

Igor Belanov

A group of two thousand people living tens of thousands of miles from the 'mainland' of their 'home' country and whose contact with it is minimal. That sounds fairly anomalous to me. It also suggests that there's nothing natural about their wanting to be part of Britain. Plenty of ex-pats live in the south of Spain and feel British. Why can't the Falkland Islanders eventually live under the nominal control of Argentina and feel British, or whatever other identity they choose to adopt?

Jib Halyard

Why should they be asked to live under the nominal control of Argentina? There is no comparison with expats living in Spain, Cyprus, Mexico or any other pre-existing county. I also highly doubt there are many (any) British expats in Spain living on land their ancesters have worked for generations.
The Falklanders are not living in anybody's country but their own.
The only logical endstate is independence as a small country, like many an island in the Caribbean. Argentina does not factor into the equation, period.

ajay

A group of two thousand people living tens of thousands of miles from the 'mainland' of their 'home' country and whose contact with it is minimal. That sounds fairly anomalous to me.

Shh, no one tell him about Hawaii. Or Reunion. Or South Georgia, Montserrat, the Galapagos, Mauritius, Midway, Pitcairn Island, Easter Island, Samoa... how many do you have to have before they stop being anomalous things and start being, well, just things?

And, too, what's wrong with anomalies? I like anomalies. They make life interesting. The Finns are an anomaly too but I'm not proposing hassling them into giving up their bizarre moon language and starting to talk Swedish just in order to make the colour coding on Igor Belanov's linguistic map of the world easier to do.

Igor Belanov

Independence as a tiny country would be a perfectly reasonable endstate for the Falklands. The only problem is that they don't seem to have evolved their own national identity yet, and I'd agree that Argentina's aggression in 1982 has made that more difficult too.

And smartarse above:
Hawaii, Midway, the Galapagos and so on are particularly bad examples to use given that they generally belong to the nearest, or one of the nearest, mainland nation-states. Plus Hawaii is substantially bigger in population than the Falklands. I'm actually saying that anomalous situations should be recognised, not obliterated. One of the reasons that the Falklands is more anomalous than, say, the Channel Islands, is that their nearest neighbour does demand that they be considered part of its territory.

Chris Williams

I'm inclined to resist "That chunk of real estate is close to us and far from you, please may we have it?" gaining any traction as a principle in international law: I don't think that it's the same as a principle of anti-colonialism as applied to people.

I'm also rather keen that we set norms which make invasion look like a really counterproductive way to attempt to solve territorial disputes: one way to do that would be to rule out any possibility of Argentine interest in the Falklands and its EEZ for (say) about 70 years.

Yes, I think that this principle ought to apply to TRONC, Western Sahara and some significant chunks of the Middle East too, inter alia.

Yes, it would have been better for the UK to have splurged its diplomatic capital on this issue rather than on a bunch of wars of choice, wouldn't it?

chris y

Independence as a tiny country would be a perfectly reasonable endstate for the Falklands.

There are no independent states with populations below 10K, and there's a strong argument that it would be impossible for anywhere much smaller than that to maintain the trappings of statehood without a special relationship to somewhere bigger, such as the UK. Frex, the Falklands can and does support a bench of Magistrates, but their Chief Justice and Appeal Judges are British judges who spend 90% of their time in Britain working in British courts.

Igor Belanov

Yes, you're probably right about full independence, though there is an increasingly grey area about memebership of international organisations and such like. See Niue for example.
What I'm trying to get over is that it is possibly impractical, possibly unreasonable, to expect the UK to eternally defend the Falkland Islands. As such, it might be a good idea to contemplate some future compromise that could at least safeguard the Islanders rights, but short of full national self-determination.

Jib Halyard

Of course the UK can't be expected to defend the Falklands forever. But they do need defending until Argentina starts seeing sense, and that will take a few generations.
And as for Argentina being a democracy now, that doesn't mean it's not a threat. Just ask people in Iraq, Gaza or Georgia about peaceful democracies...

Dan Hardie

At the risk of horrifying Chris Williams into changing his views, I absolutely agree with what he says here: 'I'm also rather keen that we set norms which make invasion look like a really counterproductive way to attempt to solve territorial disputes: one way to do that would be to rule out any possibility of Argentine interest in the Falklands and its EEZ for (say) about 70 years.'

There is one practical problem with this, as Chris says. Due to certain events which took place almost exactly ten years ago, for a very long time to come pretty much nobody will to hear lectures from any British Government on 'breaching international law to invade foreign countries is wrong'.

If we do get a Miliband-led government- and I'm not so sure we will- then young Ed himself has made his views on Iraq reasonably clear. Granted, he was able to (quietly) oppose the war without damaging his career because he wasn't in parliament in 2003, but it was still a relief to hear him say the invasion was wrong. But the current shadow Foreign Secretary is one of the many Labour figures pretending that there Blair did nothing terribly wrong in Iraq.

john b

I agree that there is no practical reason why Argentina should want the Falklands, but there is no practical reason why the Falkland Islanders should want to be British either.

You're conflating a reasonable concept with a silly concept here.

Peoples' nationality should be recognised based on their cultural identity. It doesn't matter that you might think it odd for people in the South Atlantic to drink milky tea and watch Eastenders, if that's what they want to do.

If there were a historically oppressed Argentinean minority on the islands, lacking in economic and political power and discriminated against, then Argentina would have every right to stand up for their cultural identity, and some kind of Anglo-Argentinean Agreement would be both sensible and morally right. The same would be true if there were a community of displaced Argentinean Falklanders who had been expelled by the UK.

But neither of these groups exist, because Argentina never settled the Falklands.

So we're weighing up a group's claim to cultural identity (A Good Thing) against someone else's claim to being quite nearby and once having told an American he could run a trading post under their flag for a few months 200 years ago, in a way that doesn't involve cultural identity int he slightest.

ajay

Hawaii, Midway, the Galapagos and so on are particularly bad examples to use given that they generally belong to the nearest, or one of the nearest, mainland nation-states.

"And so on", sensu Belanov, means apparently "unlike all the other examples which undermine my argument". Reunion doesn't belong to the nearest mainland nation state, South Georgia doesn't, Pitcairn doesn't, Ascension doesn't, Samoa doesn't, Montserrat doesn't.


What I'm trying to get over is that it is possibly impractical, possibly unreasonable, to expect the UK to eternally defend the Falkland Islands

Why? And, anyway, this is a new and separate argument. Previously it was all "they're Argentinian because Argentina's close by and really wants them". Now, apparently, the Belanov principle of international law has changed to the much more morally obnoxious "you don't get to keep anything you aren't prepared to defend constantly and successfully against armed attack". IOW, "you get what you grab".
Which is good news for conquerors everywhere.

Due to certain events which took place almost exactly ten years ago, for a very long time to come pretty much nobody will to hear lectures from any British Government on 'breaching international law to invade foreign countries is wrong'.

Hmm, not sure I share your faith in the British government's love of consistency there Dan. In 2019, when (utterly hypothetically) the Indonesian tanks roll back into Timor, will Ed Miliband really not condemn them for fear that someone will say something pointed about Iraq?

ajay

I'm inclined to resist "That chunk of real estate is close to us and far from you, please may we have it?" gaining any traction as a principle in international law

It's interesting to try redrawing maps based entirely on this principle. Basically round countries with the capital bang in the middle (Spain) are more or less unchanged. Long thin countries (Chile) are completely different. Everything north of about York becomes Greater Norway.

chris y

Chile would still be thin but a lot less long if it gave Bolivia back the stretch of coastline it took in the 19th century. That's what I would understand as a legitimate dispute, and yet they don't seem anxious to go to war about it.

Everything north of about York becomes Greater Norway

Wasn't this the plan in 1066, with everything south of York (well Sheffield, in fact, which straddles the Northumbria/Mercia border) becoming part of Greater Normandy?

Jib Halyard

"Independence as a tiny country would be a perfectly reasonable endstate for the Falklands. The only problem is that they don't seem to have evolved their own national identity yet, and I'd agree that Argentina's aggression in 1982 has made that more difficult too."

Actually, you'd think living through an invasion would go a long way towards shaping a shared identity. National folklore and all that.

Dan Hardie

Ajay: Ed Miliband, like any other possible PM, doesn't give a damn for consistency and will happily condemn anything he likes without regard for what we did in Iraq. It's just that Britain might have a slightly better chance of being listened to on the evils of illegal invasions if it hadn't recently undertaken one itself.

Dan Hardie

Ajay, John, assorted Chrises and myself are all making the same point. If the Falkland Islanders wish to be ruled by Britain involved now, or had involved at any previous time, damage to Argentina's legitimate national interests (say, blocking Argentine trade routes), or injustice to any group of Argentine citizens (say, the theft of land from Argentine settlers on the Falklands), then things would be different. At the very least, there should be a settlement involving Anglo-Argentine condominium over the Falklands, and at the most there should be full-blown Argentine rule, with any kelpers who didn't like it repatriated to Blighty.

But the Falkland Islanders and HMG haven't caused, and aren't causing, any damage to legitimate Argentine interests, and they couldn't if they wanted to. The Falkland Islanders and HMG haven't oppressed, and aren't oppressing, Argentine settlers on the Falklands, who have actually never existed.

So there shouldn't be a transfer of sovereignty over the islands. It's not a terribly complicated matter, and it's not especially edifying to see people pretending that it is.

It's less important, but still rather amusing, to note that the Argentine demands were once largely made by fascistic and murdering generals trying to divert attention from their own crimes, and are now largely made by a rather ridiculous failed populist trying to divert attention from her own political ineptitude. Anyone who genuinely gave a damn about the the well-being of Argentine citizens would find a hundred thousand things to worry about before they thought of the Falklands.

Jib Halyard

I also suspect that many on the British left would be more sympathetic to the Islanders' wishes had Operation Corporate been conducted under a Labour prime minister.

Chris Williams

Perhaps - also if the Tories had done a bit more about the great patriotic struggle, and a bit less of the 'Now we can go after the trade unions!', the war might not have such bad associations.

When people ask me why I'm drinking champagne in the street to celebrate the death of a senile old woman (which I admit is pretty heartless on the face of it) I intend to tell them, politely, about the 'enemy within' speech.

Jib Halyard

So true...

chris y

+1 as they say nowadays.

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