Thirty years ago, during an economic downturn, the Falkand Islands became headline news in both northern and southern hemispheres. Recently, coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Falklands are again in the news, in the same hemispheres. Last time it was war. With ships, planes and infantry. This time the war is one of words. It’s been quite feisty though. It’s been front page stuff here and there over the last few weeks.
I’ve met plenty of Argentines on my travels, but the touchy subject of island ownership doesn’t often come up. The stubborn notion of Argentine ownership can be seen in many Argentine restaurants in DF though. Maps of their home country will always describe the islands as Las Malvinas. When I have spoken to Argentines about the islands though, I’ve often been amazed at their complete lack of knowledge about the islands. Almost all of them believe the islanders to be Argentine. Almost all have professed their belief that the islanders want to be ruled from Buenos Airies, or at least that they want independence from Britain.
Almost all of them have clearly been taught ‘facts’ that bear no resemblance to reality. Although this article in the Guardian suggest that might be changing. Albeit very slowly. I’ve read the arguments in favour of Argentine ownership. They are all tenuous. There really is little basis for the claim, other than proximity. But even then, it’s hardly a stones throw from the mainland. The latest Argentine tactics of rallying the support of neighbours is all rather meaningless too. The Falklands have long been supplied by ship direct from the UK.
I do have one idea that might benefit the Argentines in furthering their claim. Accept British ownership. Quit worrying about it. Take the pressure off the situation. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Possession and a superior military is ten tenths of the law. Work on restoring normal relationships with both the British and the islanders. When all is said and done, the islanders are the ones who should have the final say in who, if anyone, is to govern them.
They stopped being colonial tenants a long time ago. They were born there, as were their parents, their grandparents, their great grandparents. It’s very clear that they currently want to be a British territory. It’s very clear that that is how they’ll think for the short to medium term. It’s very clear that current Argentine policy, together with previous Argentine policy, will only strengthen that feeling. Argentina is doing everything necessary to prevent their own aims. It’s self defeating.
How’s this for a radical idea. Once relationships have been normalised, set up increased trade programs. New tourism routes, working both ways. Sporting competitions. Work on being the islanders best friend. Work on being a beneficial neighbour, one they begin to depend upon. Work on embedding a relationship that eventually becomes more important to the islanders than their relationship to Britain.
And provide Argentines with the truth about the islands and islanders. Stop kidding them. I’m convinced it’ll work better than their current efforts. It’ll take a long time. It’s very much a case of playing the waiting game. Taking a longer view. But like I said, the short and medium term are decided already anyway.