And not for the first time, either. In part of Barack Obama’s “smart power” diplomacy that he promised would restore our standing with American allies, the Obama administration sided with Argentina in demanding that the UK open negotiations over the status of the Falkland Islands, joining such stalwart American allies as Nicaragua and Venezuela. The OAS declaration even uses the Argentinian name for the islands, a particular insult, as Nile Gardiner notes:
President Obama was effusive in his praise for the Special Relationship when he visited London recently, but his administration continues to slap Britain in the face over the highly sensitive Falklands issue. Washington signed on to a “draft declaration on the question of the Malvinas Islands”passed by unanimous consent by the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) at its meeting in San Salvador yesterday, an issue which had been heavily pushed by Argentina. In doing so, the United States sided not only with Buenos Aires, but also with a number of anti-American regimes including Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua. …
Washington backed a similar resolution in June last year, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear in a joint press conference with Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires in March 2010 that the Obama administration fully backs Argentina’s calls for negotiations over the Falkands, handing her Argentine counterpart a significant propaganda coup. The State Department has also insultingly referred to the Islands in the past as the Malvinas, the Argentine name for them.
As far as the British are concerned, there is no “sovereignty dispute.” According to the Falklanders themselves (from last year), there isn’t a dispute, either:
The 3,000-strong community is already proudly British – the phone boxes are the old red ones, the groceries are from Waitrose and many still refer to the UK as “home”.
A police officer described how last week’s Argentine sabre-rattling had set off a rash of unofficial flag-flying, joining the houses that already have the British or Falklands flag painted on roofs and walls. “Everybody’s on edge really but they’re being philosophical about it,” said the police officer. …
The younger islanders may not share the older generation’s memories but there is clearly no love lost with the Argentines among them, too. A handful live on the islands but “keep a very low profile”, said Mrs Edwards. There is very little trade with Argentina, and supplies and visitors have to come either from Chile or Britain. “We’ve got used to living as if Argentina’s not there,” said Warren Miller, 16. “So long as they don’t attack us again, I’m not bothered what they do.”
So the people who live there want to remain part of the UK. On what basis does the US intend to demand talks over sovereignty? It can’t be self-determination, because if that were the case, there would be no question that the Falklands are British, and should stay British. Nor can it be a question of colonialism, as the Falklands have their own home-rule government within the UK’s sovereignty, and the people of the islands consider themselves fully British. Moreover, the OAS declaration comes in response to a threat of military action from Argentina, which has publicly talked about a blockade of British shipping in the region over sovereignty claims by Buenos Aires.
Back to Gardiner for some perspective:
It is hugely disappointing that the Obama administration has chosen once again to side not only with the increasingly authoritarian regime in Argentina, but also with an array of despots in Latin America against British interests. Mrs Clinton should be reminded that 255 brave British servicemen laid down their lives in 1982 for the freedom of the Falkland Islanders, who are overwhelmingly British, following the brutal Argentine invasion.
The sovereignty of the Islands is not a matter for negotiation, and Britain will never give in to threats from Argentina or its tyrannical allies in places such as Venezuela. The White House recently declared that Britain remains America’s most important ally. Now it should live up to its words by supporting Washington’s closest friend and partner on matters of vital British interest, including the future of British subjects living in the South Atlantic, whose only wish is to remain free under the protection of the Union Jack.
There seems to be no reason for the Obama administration to back a demand for negotiations over the Falklands, unless it’s just to curry favor with anti-American regimes by tossing our allies under the bus as appeasement. It’s an absurd stance and an insult to the British, as well as to the actual people on the islands themselves.
Update: Fausta can’t believe it either.