Fumbling the Falklands?

posted at 11:00 am on February 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Remember when Barack Obama promised to restore our standing with America’s allies and exercise “smart power” in diplomacy?  Good times, good times.  In the latest dispute over the Falkland Islands, Obama has failed to support our closest ally on the world stage even after their military and diplomatic support for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in what the Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner called another knife in the back:

First, military weakness is provocative. Argentina ramped up its aggressive rhetoric and diplomatic efforts to reclaim the Falklands only after P.M. Cameron announced massive cuts to the Royal Navy and British ground forces. The decommissioning last December of the U.K.’s sole remaining aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, well before its service life ended, and the sale of Britain’s 50 G-9 Sea Harrier fighter jets to the U.S. Marine Corps, seems to have emboldened the Argentines. In 1982, the Royal Navy had approximately 90 warships from which it could assemble a task force.  Today it has 30. Indeed, most experts believe that while it would be very difficult for the Argentine military to successfully invade the islands, it would be nearly impossible for the U.K. to retake them without an aircraft carrier in the event that Argentina was successful in overrunning Britain’s key air base at Mount Pleasant. …

Second, the Obama administration has made the United States an unreliable ally for our closest friends. Britain has been a stalwart ally of the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan, notwithstanding the tremendous domestic political pressure on Labour and Conservative governments not to participate in those unpopular wars. However, in 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for talks over the dispute and even appeared to side with Argentina during a press conference with President Kirchner in Buenos Aires.  Last month, as the current situation developed, rather than send a clear message to Argentina that the United States supported its longtime ally, a State Department spokesman demurred: “[t]his is a bilateral issue that needs to be worked out directly between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom…We recognize de facto United Kingdom administration of the islands, but take no position regarding sovereignty.”  Nile Gardiner, the Telegraph’s Washington correspondent, wrote in response that the “Obama administration knife[d] Britain in the back again over the Falklands.”

The shabby treatment meted out to America’s “special relationship” partner in this instance cannot be seen as a surprise. It is in line with the administration’s treatment of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (at least prior to Bob Turner winning Anthony Weiner’s Congressional seat in New York). Poland and the Czech Republic suffered similar slights after the Administration unilaterally cancelled ABM sites in those countries as part of its naïve and, so far, unsuccessful attempt to “reset” relations with Russia.  And, there has been much criticism of the Administration for failing to provide Taiwan with the latest F-16 fighters that it has long requested to defend itself against a potential attack by China. There is no doubt that American allies such as Israel, Colombia, Georgia, Taiwan, the Gulf States and the Baltics, all of which live in dangerous neighborhoods, are watching the United States’ response to the Falklands row with concern.

Third, failing to promote the rule of law, democracy and self-determination in the Falklands will damage the United States’ ability to promote those goals in other nations.  The 3,200 residents of the Falklands have been there for over 175 years.  They descend from people who have inhabited the Islands for far longer than many Argentines have inhabited their own country.  They are, apparently without exception, in favor of maintaining their local parliamentary government and association with Britain.  There are no Argentines on the islands and there are no “displaced” Las Malvinas (as Argentina has labeled the islands) refugees in Argentina seeking a “right of return.” The current diplomatic crisis follows the nationalistic playbook that President Kirchner borrowed from the former military junta and that is promoted by her mentor in Caracas. The fact that there are large oil reserves off the Falklands is also fueling Argentine territorial ambitions as its government would love to get control of such resources.

It’s not as if one can see Argentina from the Falklands, or vice versa.  The islands are 250 nautical miles off the coast of Argentina, far beyond anyone’s idea of sovereign waters.  Cuba is only 90 miles off of the American coast, and the Bahamas even closer.  Would anyone accept an American assertion that those islands belong to the US despite the wishes of its inhabitants?  Of course not.  The Danish commonwealth of Greenland is closer to Canada than Europe, but a Canadian claim of sovereignty would be laughed off the stage (not that Canadians are interested in making such a claim).

How difficult is it for the US to stand up for self-determination?  Falklanders do not want Argentinian sovereignty.  They see themselves as British, and want to continue being British.  There is no good reason for Argentina to make this claim other than the oil, which the US should prefer to remain in the hands of the British, given the direction of the Argentinian government lately.

The US used to stand for self-determination, and used to stand up for its allies.  The Obama administration isn’t interested in doing either.  That may be a lot of things, but “smart power” isn’t one of them.


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if obama gets 4 more years i’m not sure we will be able to reverse all the trouble he has caused.

trailortrash on February 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Tell that to all of those idiots here who are promising to give O’bama 4 more years to finish destroying the country, simply because they foolishly believe that (insert GOP candidate name of your choice here) would be so much worse than O’bama.

Del Dolemonte on February 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

It was solely British ships and solely British troops.

Trafalgar on February 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM

And they did a fantastic job.

Y’alls navy especially.

If it happens again, will the Cameron government have the testicular fortitude to send the QM2 down there?

cozmo on February 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Allow our Dear Leader to retort to this Anglo slander! -

“Uh.”

- Dear Leader.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

But now Britain cannot win the war without our assistance, and Obama won’t assist.

right2bright on February 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM

They can, but they shouldn’t have to.

They have the ability. Its the will that is in question.

cozmo on February 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

NotCoach on February 15, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Sure, you’ll need to buy this book

If you’ve determined that nothing was provided when there is ample evidence that you can search for on your own, then so be it. I’m not one to argue with a brick wall.

But do you think Weinberger was knighted for being a good cheerleader? I mean, they do hand those knighthoods out like candy, right?

ButterflyDragon on February 15, 2012 at 12:35 PM

OK, I think you’re right on that, but I’d hardly call it “carrying the UK’s water. It was solely British ships and solely British troops.

Trafalgar on February 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM

If that’s supposed to represent MY comment, I wrote “this time”.
Don’t be soundin’ like that Sink WeeGur guy.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM

That may be a lot of things, but “smart power” isn’t one of them.

But it is socislism/communism, and Argentina of today has got plenty of both. I hate him and I hate the witch in Argentina. The only ones I despise even more are those who brung them. Spontaneously combust all of you, incl. the two.

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Obama has failed to support our closest ally on the world stage even after their military and diplomatic support for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More Downgrading of our allies and our standing in the world from the master himself.

Chip on February 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

He fumbles everything else, why not relations with allies????

chai on February 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM

What is a term for worse than worst?

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM

SCOAMF

NapaConservative on February 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Sure, you’ll need to buy this book

ButterflyDragon on February 15, 2012 at 12:35 PM

I liked the one by Hastings and Jenkins better.

Dang, a good thread and I gotta’ go.

cozmo on February 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Is this revenge for the way the Brits treated his family over in Kenya?

God help us all, God help save the West.

Most of the SoundByte Americans have NO FREAKING CLUE what he is up to and Hells Bells maybe we don’t either!!!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/apnewsbreak-us-weighs-options-for-cuts-in-deployed-nuclear-weapons-including-80percent-reduction/2012/02/14/gIQATFkvDR_story.html

PappyD61 on February 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Sure, you’ll need to buy this book

If you’ve determined that nothing was provided when there is ample evidence that you can search for on your own, then so be it. I’m not one to argue with a brick wall.

ButterflyDragon on February 15, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Since you refuse to throw any linkable assertions against it at least I have a clean brick wall. You are dodging. You made the assertion of extra material support, you support it. I will never waste my time attempting to prove a negative.

But do you think Weinberger was knighted for being a good cheerleader? I mean, they do hand those knighthoods out like candy, right?

I have no friggen clue what the criteria are for being knighted.

NotCoach on February 15, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Obama is tirelessly working for his ChiCom employers. Why is everyone so blind to it? Or is it that nobody dares to say it out loud?

Archivarix on February 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM

WE’LL HAVE FEWER WARHEADS THAN COMMUNIST CHINA!!!

I know I screamed that but good fricking grief people.

PappyD61 on February 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Never fear. He’ll smooth things over with the Queen with another iPod of his greatest hits.

Dexter_Alarius on February 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Read Dinesh D’Souza’s book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” for an understanding of Obama and England.

clippermiami on February 15, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Nothing is more militarily provocative than weakness. If you want to be in a war, first disarm.

RBMN on February 15, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Absolutely…a simple but brilliant statement.

right2bright on February 15, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Hey, why don’t we get rid of 80% of our nuclear weapons?

slickwillie2001 on February 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I’m shocked that the Brits gave up their last aircraft carrier. Poor Admiral Nelson must be spinning in his grave.

Obama’s decision to support Argentina over the Brits is nothing more than his visceral, unthinking, racist reaction. The Brits are white (former) imperialists; the Argentines are Hispanics and the residents of a former European colony. The former are wrong and the latter right almost as a matter of definition for Obama. Yet another reason to get rid of this clown.

morganfrost on February 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Since you refuse to throw any linkable assertions against it at least I have a clean brick wall.

NotCoach on February 15, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Relax man, there was a lot of support.

GB has a 30 year secrets rule. The time hasn’t passed. There is some out there, I just don’t have the time to find them for you.

cozmo on February 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I have a problem with the word “fumbling” in the title. It implies something accidental or unintended. Little Bammie is doing exactly what he wants to do re The Falklands and he sees as a proper conclusion that which we fear.

slickwillie2001 on February 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I remember during the last presidential election a poll of Britons put support for “THE ONE” at something like 82%. You wanted him, you got him now deal with it.

mike3121 on February 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

The Brits screwed the pooch themselves when they decided to cut the military so deep, and decommission their last carrier. And they should know better than to rely on Obama for anything.

Ward Cleaver on February 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

You know why Ed. BO perceives populace of Argentina as “people of Color”. He perceives English as lily whites. That overrides any other factor in about 90% percent of his decisions.

Hummer53 on February 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Tell that to all of those idiots here who are promising to give O’bama 4 more years to finish destroying the country, simply because they foolishly believe that (insert GOP candidate name of your choice here) would be so much worse than O’bama.

Del Dolemonte on February 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Does anyone really think that we can survive 4 more years of Downgrade?

Chip on February 15, 2012 at 1:01 PM

If Britain doesn’t want to maintain an aircraft carrier, instead giving the aircraft-carrier money to immigrant Muslim radical preachers who spew hate, don’t work, and get a government check, then they don’t deserve to have any influence outside their own shores.

That’s a country that is badly broken and morally confused. The homeowner goes to prison and then pays all his life savings to the burglar as damages.

Let Britain have the Falklands if it can keep them. I’m not interested in seeing one American dollqar spent, or life risked, to protect the remnants of their “empire.”

I’ll line up with Ron Paul on this one.

cane_loader on February 15, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Interestingly, BHO missed what’s probably his sole chance to improve on Reagan on any issue. (While Reagan was supportive of the Brits, the US even then didn’t want to anger Argentina. What he should have done was offer Thatcher a carrier or two, to supplement their own. Maybe she’d declined, but the offer should have been made).

But back to 2012: would we have expected any differently from Obama? Of course not. And that in itself only emboldens the Argentines, and is in fact a danger to the peace. While the UK may lack a carrier right now, they could still lob missiles into Buenos Aires (not attacking the mainland was undue restraint last time around, if you ask me).

And if we keep going on like this, that’s exactly what will happen sooner or later. Obama, paving the way for anarchy and war.

Phil_NL on February 15, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Let Britain have the Falklands if it can keep them. I’m not interested in seeing one American dollqar spent, or life risked, to protect the remnants of their “empire.”

This isn’t about empire, this is about people being allowed to choose on which government they want to live. And any degradation of that ideal will sooner or later become a threat to the US as well.

Besides, there’s no doubt the brits can keep the islands if they really, really want to. Those missiles into Buenos Aires could be armed with nukes too. It would be much more cost-effective in the long run not to let things go that far…

Phil_NL on February 15, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Obama’s an idiot for this.

But is Britain really your closest ally? Many Canadians differ…..

zensunni on February 15, 2012 at 1:22 PM

One thing is perfectly clear.

If Obama is re-elected, the world will explode into war. All signs point to socialist and communist powers lining up to “right the wrongs” of the past. Knowing that Obama won’t do anything to stop them is basically a green light for WWIII.

BobMbx on February 15, 2012 at 11:16 AM

+100

I totally agree with this statement. Regardless of who is the Republican nominee, I’ll be voting for them. I have my preferences but my #1 goal is to try and get the buffoon we call Pres. Obama out of the White House. He’s a disaster.

Nineball on February 15, 2012 at 1:33 PM

And the wishes of the inhabitants of the Falklands, all English speaking citizens of Britain who have no desire to be a part of Argentina, do they matter at all to you?

Not one whit. And it wouldn’t matter if they spoke French, German, or Tagalog either.

If Britain doesn’t want to maintain an aircraft carrier, instead giving the aircraft-carrier money to immigrant Muslim radical preachers who spew hate, don’t work, and get a government check, then they don’t deserve to have any influence outside their own shores.

That’s a country that is badly broken and morally confused. The homeowner goes to prison and then pays all his life savings to the burglar as damages.

Let Britain have the Falklands if it can keep them. I’m not interested in seeing one American dollqar spent, or life risked, to protect the remnants of their “empire.”

I’ll line up with Ron Paul on this one.

This

theblackcommenter on February 15, 2012 at 1:37 PM

With friends like him, does Britain even need enemies?

NotoriousFin on February 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Can’t figure out if Dear Leader is an evil genius or a useful idiot. I still can’t figure out which is worse: intentional destruction of the U.S. or total incompetence that is going to take us over the edge. Either way, I don’t see how we can survive another 4-years of Obama without a severe depression and/or major world war to bookend his 2nd term.

HoosierStateofMind on February 15, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Obama sucks on so many levels it is getting exceedingly difficult to keep track of them all.

With a fail fail here and a fail fail there, Obama was was his name o!

Sherman1864 on February 15, 2012 at 1:52 PM

With friends like him, does Britain even need enemies?

NotoriousFin on February 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM

No. But they still have them.
We have got to get Obambi out of there!

TerryW on February 15, 2012 at 1:53 PM

While I think that Britain has made mistakes in downsizing its military, I think it is also despicable the way the Obama administration dealt with this. It was indeed like a ‘knife in the back’.
It is no comfort at all that I’m certain a Ron Paul administration would at least double its budget for knives.

mdavt on February 15, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Tell that to all of those idiots here who are promising to give O’bama 4 more years to finish destroying the country, simply because they foolishly believe that (insert GOP candidate name of your choice here) would be so much worse than O’bama.

Del Dolemonte on February 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

What of people promising to vote 3rd party if the GOP nominates someone that promises to put on the brakes but won’t commit to reversing course? Oboobi ruining the country in 4 vs a squish that may bring us to the same destination in 8 – 12 years?

I’d rather focus on Congress in order to stop teh Won, or push the squish rightwards or support a 3rd party conservative to reverse course. That’s why I’d vote 3rd party in order to weaken the stranglehold that the GOP moderates have on the party and if 35% – 40% of Americans agree with me, we might actually pull off a coup in the WH. Given the 3 choices to vote for POTUS, it’d be a risk worth taking while standing on principles.

AH_C on February 15, 2012 at 1:58 PM

US policy on the Falklands has been consistent and the policy today is no different than it was when Reagan was in office. I have no doubt that the US would assist Britain if Argentina again tried to take by force what they could not obtain through diplomacy.

The Falklands are defended far better today than when they only had one vessel in the South Atlantic, the survey ship HMS Endurance. Today Britain is much more interested in maintaining control of the Falklands than it was and despite deep cuts to the MoD they have the assets to do the job.

“Jaw Jaw” is always better than war. I honestly do not know why the Argentinians persist in making this a matter of national honor since their claim has little merit. Since the Falklands War the British have always insisted that sovereignty is off the table but there are many other issues related to the Falklands which the UK and the Argentinians can and should discuss.

lexhamfox on February 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Worse thing a foreign government can hear from Barry Obama is “We’re friends, I’ve got your back.”

Just ask the Poles and Czechs.

GarandFan on February 15, 2012 at 2:09 PM

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM

“Irish” Republican; as in your family has been in the States for 4 generations. Fail.

yubley on February 15, 2012 at 2:12 PM

There are so many Muslims on the dole in UK they had to scrap their carrier to pay for them.

Akzed on February 15, 2012 at 2:33 PM

I think China has a new Aircraft Carrier, surely they can help take the Falklands…

kirkill on February 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

…What is a term for “worse than worst”?…

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM

That’s easy. The term is “Obombuh”, as in “Worst Obumbuh President evah!”

SnarkySam on February 15, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Obama has failed to support our closest ally on the world stage

While the UK is the USA’s closest ally, it is by no means Obama’s.

hawkeye54 on February 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM

There are so many Muslims on the dole in UK they had to scrap their carrier to pay for them.

And so we observe evidence of a once great and mighty nation destroying itself from within.

Give ‘em 20 years and the Muzzies will be in complete control of the UK,

Then maybe Obama will consider the UK our closest ally.

hawkeye54 on February 15, 2012 at 3:30 PM

When the first Falklands war happened, Thatchers reforms had not taken hold and the British economy was floundering.

By going to war, boosted her popularity, won the next election with more seats, and really put her reforms into practice, eventually transforming the economy and defeating the unions.

She probably would not have won re-election if not for the war.

Let the Argentines attack again. I see people realizing the uselessness of the left in both countries, to the benefit of the conservatives.

Johnny 100 Pesos on February 15, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Yes, we used to stand for our allies and we used to have a special relationship with Britain. All true.

But Britain used to have a navy too, and was a scary tough fighter. Defending the Falklands wasn’t something they particularly needed to call us to do. We were saved for rampaging Nazis.

The English ought to be ashamed of the state into which they’ve fallen, reduced (as they are) to whining for help from the American taxpayer to fight off the very small jackal that is Argentina.

MTF on February 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I was so taken by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s attractive ‘good looks’, that I forgot what this thread is supposed to be about.

listens2glenn on February 15, 2012 at 4:09 PM

The US used to stand for self-determination, and used to stand up for its allies.

Self-determination is anathema to this President. The benevolent overlords know what is best for the plebian rubes.

gravityman on February 15, 2012 at 4:42 PM

only after P.M. Cameron announced massive cuts to the Royal Navy and British ground forces.

Western Civilization is committing suicide. We are all eliminating our armies while all of our enemies are growing theirs.
There is only one way for this to eventually end, and it won’t be good for any of us.

JellyToast on February 15, 2012 at 4:48 PM

And so we observe evidence of a once great and mighty nation destroying itself from within.
Give ‘em 20 years and the Muzzies will be in complete control of the UK,
Then maybe Obama will consider the UK our closest ally.
hawkeye54 on February 15, 2012 at 3:30 PM

all of Europes remaining citizenry needs to get white hot mad and expell every last muzzo and pack the socialist geniuss with them too

Sonosam on February 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Monroe Doctrine says hi?

AngusMc on February 15, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I think China has a new Aircraft Carrier, surely they can help take the Falklands…

kirkill on February 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

England had a relativity powerful nuclear submarine fleet. During the First Falklands War, the Argies lost one cruiser and their aircraft carrier never dare to leave port. If you think sub launched cruise missiles perhaps, the Brits do not need a carrier and this time, there is a permanent RAF detachment on the islands.

El Coqui on February 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Isn’t Obama “dreamy”? Eh brits? Isn’t he?

MrX on February 15, 2012 at 6:00 PM

El Coqui on February 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM

GB also kept up with technology while Argentina didn’t.

cozmo on February 15, 2012 at 6:10 PM

As a staunch Irish Republican, in more ways than one (grin), I too suggest that when the Sun finally set all over their “Empire” decades ago and faded into irrelevance, they should have taken the hint.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Good God, I grew up with this. It’s 2012 The Empire is not oppressing you Billy the Orange has been dead a hell of a long time

katy the mean old lady on February 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Poland and the Czech Republic suffered similar slights after the Administration unilaterally cancelled ABM sites in those countries as part of its naïve and, so far, unsuccessful attempt to “reset” “overcharge” relations with Russia.

fify, after all if Hillary says our best people worked hard to get it right, then dang burn it it’s right.

Gwillie on February 15, 2012 at 8:18 PM

If the territiory of Britain is invaded, isn’t NATO obliged to come to her defense?

The NATO AO was defined as being north of the Tropic of Capricorn, to avoid becoming entangled in any Portuguese colonial wars in Mozambique or Angola. Unfortunately for the Brits, that also excludes the Falklands.

PKO Strany on February 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Tropic of Capricorn

Sorry, that should be the Tropic of Cancer.

PKO Strany on February 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM

So, basically, O is telling Britain to go Falk themselves?

thelarryd on February 16, 2012 at 1:51 PM

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