Once again, the perennial dispute over the Falkland Islands has reared its ugly head. Generally, the main effect of this squabble is to set off a fevered round of British patriotism. Typically, this would take the form of a chorus of angry voices first demonizing the Argentinian enemy and then, on reflection, declaring that Britain would fight to the end to preserve the freedom of the brave islanders. However, the current quarrel has taken a very different tone to its previous incarnations. Key to this is that very few British politicians and journalists appear to take the Argentinian claim seriously. Superciliously, many have asserted that the Argentinian government is just engaging in sabre-rattling, in order to divert attention from its own economic woes. Gerald Howarth, a Defence Minister, has gone so far as to say that “there is neither the capability nor the intention by the Argentines to repeat the folly of 19821”.
This blasé attitude has proved contagious; the prevailing belief among Britons seems to be that Argentina is a washed-up country, one which has little hope of ever reclaiming “Las Malvinas”.
In fact, the Argentinian world position has never been stronger. The country has boasted an average real GDP growth of over 7.5% over the last 8 years2, showing incredible economic resilience to rise from the dark recession days of the late 90s. And, more worryingly for those with British interests, the Argentinians are using their economic power to make up for their lack of military power. Their major trading partners across South America, including Brazil, Uruguay and Chile, have supported their claims to the islands. If that were not enough, China, who have similar problems with the contested sovereignty of Taiwan and are reliant on Argentinian soy beans, have also pledged support for the Argentinian claim3. Backed by the majority of South America and a nascent world power, Argentina suddenly looks like a much tougher diplomatic enemy.
The Argentinian position is far stronger than recognised by large sections of the British press. Through their diplomatic nous, trading links and strong international support the battle for “Las Malvinas” may be rougher, tougher and longer than many British people suspect.
Picture Source 1: Dailymail.co.uk