Why Are We Messing With the Falklands?
Imagine you woke up this morning to read this story in your morning paper:
Mexico City, March 8, 2010: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband offered today to mediate a territorial dispute between Mexico and the United States of America. The Labour Party official offered Britain’s “good offices” in the century-and-a-half diplomatic row over conflicting territorial claims between the two North American nations. Miliband raised eyebrows at the U.S. State Department by referring to the American state of Texas by its Mexican name of “Tejas.”
That would surely cause you and most other Americans to be outraged. Butt out, Brits, you would be likely to say, as quickly as you can say “John Bull.” Don’t Mess with Texas!
Yet, the reverse of this situation has just occurred with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s latest diplomatic blunder on her Latin American tour. During an official visit to Argentina, Mrs. Clinton referred to the Britain’s Falkland Islands as “Las Malvinas–the Argentine name for them. She said the U.S. was willing to mediate the conflicting claims of Argentina and Britain to the collection of rocky crags that have been British since 1833. The Falklands have been British a decade longer than Texas has been American. Argentina still claims these crags–and is even keener to have them back now that oil is rumored to be bubbling beneath the stormy seas of the South Atlantic.
Every one of 3,000 living souls on the Falklands is British–and defiantly so. We haven’t polled the Falklands’ other residents yet–the Silvery Grebes, Blackbrow Albatrosses, or Macaroni Penguins. Although, with a policy gaffe this bird-brained, perhaps we should.
Is the Obama administration determined to undo everything Ronald Reagan accomplished? In 1982, Argentina’s rogue government got into trouble because of its insane economic policies. The military junta then in charge in Buenos Aires in 1982 started yelling “Remember the Malvinas!” They hoped to distract their tormented people from their hardships at home by naked aggression abroad. The Argentine military invaded the sparsely populated Falkland Islands–there are almost 800 of them, most of them uninhabited.
The Argentine junta reckoned without the Iron Lady, Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There was never a doubt that Mrs. Thatcher would respond to this brazen aggression with force.
She quickly assembled and sent to sea a Royal Navy battle fleet. She personally went to the fleet’s embarkation point to see off the young warriors. Not since World War II had Britain’s people been so united about anything. And Mrs. Thatcher reveled in her new-won popularity. Britons hailed her as the greatest British woman warrior since the legendary Boadicea, who bravely battled the Roman occupiers.
When one of her young Cabinet ministers–a bright up-and-comer–suggested that Britain should go to the UN during the two weeks it would take the war fleet to arrive on station in the Falklands, and bring new proposals for a peaceful negotiation of differences, Mrs. Thatcher’s reaction was described as “thermonuclear.” Nothing has been heard from that young man since.
The Falklands War was short, sharp, and bloody. Argentine jets equipped with French Exocet missiles sank the British cruiser HMS Sheffield, with the loss of 20 sailors. But Mrs. Thatcher controversially ordered the British submarine Conqueror to sink the Argentine cruiser, Belgrano, with heavy loss of life.
Thousands of young Argentine draftees, poorly trained, poorly supplied, and even more poorly led, were quickly rounded up on the islands. Britain lost 255 dead in this war while 649 Argentines were needlessly sacrificed to the Buenos Aires dictators’ vainglory. As a result of this humiliating defeat, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri and his fellow thugs were soon sent packing.
Back then, the Reagan administration quietly but firmly backed Britain with critical intelligence and re-fueling stations. But now, we face another possible crisis over the Falklands. And all because of Hillary Clinton’s clumsy attempt at “even-handedness”–which is in fact ham-handedness.
Britain loyally supported us in Iraq. She is our strongest ally in Afghanistan. Tied down fighting at our side, Britain would be hard-pressed to eject the Argentines should the left-wing government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner decide once again to invade the homes of those staunchly British Falklanders.
Think we’re having trouble with Latin Americans now? Try to imagine U.S. Naval vessels called in at the last minute to block an Argentine invasion of the Falklands. The Argentines are crowing over the Clinton Coup. He’s never seen “such substantial support” from the U.S., says Argentina’s Ambassador in Washington Hector Timerman. Buenos Aires’ official mouthpiece, Ruperto Godoy called Mrs. Clintons’ comments “very significant, very important.”
Hillary’s comments are indeed significant. She is buying trouble for us around the globe. From a failed “Re-Set” button with the Russians, to a dangerous appeasement of Iran and China, from bribing the PLO on the West Bank with $900 million to shutting down missile defense for Eastern European democracies, from siding with the dictator in Honduras, to opening the door to a second Falklands War, this administration’s foreign policy is in shambles. And we’re only 14 months into it.