The pride of wit has kept ages busy in the discussion of useless questions, and the pride of power has destroyed armies, to gain or to keep unprofitable possessions. Samuel Johnson – ‘Thoughts on the Falkland Islands’
Recently, Britain set up off-shore drilling near the disputed islands. The Argentinians who fought Britain over ownership of them in 1982, quickly reminded the Brits that unilateral extraction of this kind of natural resource from disputed waters was forbidden by UN resolution. The government of Argentina’s President,Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced that it would take its protests over British oil exploration to the United Nations today [TimesOnline 24 February].
At the Rio Group summit in Mexico yesterday, Buenos Aires won unprecedented support from other Latin American states for its demand that the UK stop drilling in waters near the islands.
Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, did not hesitate to speak up loudly.
…[H]e used a television address to reiterate his support, bellowing: ‘Give the Falkland Islands back to Argentina, Queen of England.’
Worrisome to the British is the fact that countries such as Chile and Brazil supported Argentina’s President in going before the UN about this matter.
It is important to note that there is a special triangular relationship between Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. This is a rich and powerful league. It is also important to note that in 2007, Chavez threatened Britain with his stockpile of Russian and Iranian sophisicated weaponry if he saw the British fleet in South American waters again. [TimesOnline]
Past history and current remarks suggest that Chavez would like nothing better than to embroil the US and Britain in conflicts in his region – to subject the allies to multiple front wars at opposite ends of the globe. He is no doubt emboldened by al Quaeda now operative in South America. [Dancing Czars]
Chavez has recently been confronting our ally, Columbia, over US bases there. For their part, the Colombians are confident that Chavez is bankrolling guerrillas fighting to topple their government. [On My Watch]
In the current dust-up over the Falklands, Britain is proceeding with caution awaiting the outcome of events at the UN. Many believe the whole thing may be the result of internal Argentine politics – that it is a PR campaign begun by President Kirchner.
As it did during the Falklands war, the US has avoided being dragged into the matter. Our State Department has only given tepid support to Britain and has made it clear that it will not comment on its rights to the islands.
A generation ago President Reagan was slow to back publicly Britain’s efforts to recapture the islands, but US intelligence proved critical to British military success. [TimesOnline]
This will be a situation worth watching since the balance of power in the Americas has so greatly changed. But are the Falklands worth it? Remember Johnson’s words penned over 200 years ago – it seems senseless to go out of one’s way for “unprofitable possessions.”