- Jun 2009
- western Terranova
why does everyone want them so much? i know that there was a whole war over it, but just WHY are they so damn valuable? what does it matter if argentina or britain has them?
It is obvious that Argentinian military invention was a disaster for all sides. I think that the only real benefit is for inhabitants of the islands, since this sealed their destiny as part of what's left from the British Empire. And this, after all, was always their will and had always to be respected.Speaking as a British person, they are not that important in themselves, but as result of the course of history, they are inhabited by people who regard themselves as British and want to remain so. For the Argentinians it is a nationalist issue, and in view of the distance of the islands from Britain and the difficulties of defending them (and for more more general foreign policy reasons), it is quite possible that the British government would have reached an accommodation with the Argentinians if they had not forced the issue by invading. Though I hope the British government would not have entirely sold the Falkland Islanders down the river. Once the Argentinians had invaded, the British government had a choice between what was effectively a negotiated surrender (which was really what the USA would have preferred) or a difficult war. Really that was no choice at all, the whole thing was a national humiliation, to have troops from a South American dictatorship taking over a British territory and, above all, exercising nked power over British citizens and officials. If there had just been penguins there, it might have been a different matter. The expedition to take retake them was a far more risky enterprise than is commonly realized, it could have ended in disaster if the Argentians had sunk a couple more major vessels. Their air force was highly professional and well equipped. Now there is a stalemate, the Argentinians are using diplomatic pressure - with some support from the USA! - but will not resort to force again, while it has become impossible for the British government to relinquish the islands after past events. Personally I don't have much sympathy for the Argentinians over this, if they had played a waiting game they could probably have gained their prize, but they staked everything on the exercise of force and lost. The conflict cost 250 British lives and vast expense.
Indeed, Argentinian conscripts had the very bad luck to be at the wrong moment and place. And their bad luck followed them in Argentina.I agree, it was all a sad affair; I feel a particular sympathy for the Argentinian conscripts, who were badly led and, it would seem, badly treated by many of their officers. The other British possessions in the South Atlantic are dependent on the Falkland Islands, so I think if the Falklands had been uninhabited, some arrangement could have been reached with the Argentinians (perhaps at an earlier period than the conflict). I cannot see that the Argentine has any legitimate claim whatever over Britain to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands other than (relative) proximity.
Commercial interests are not the primary factor in all of this now; Britain has found itself in a position where it is obliged to defend the Falkland Islanders into the indefinite future, so naturally wants to recoup its expenses.
I didn't know that the British presence is as ancient as the Spanish one. Thanks for the info, it is very important.If the claims were to be determined on the basis of the earliest settlement of the island, it would be a finely balanced issue, since the Spanish took over the French settlement in the same year as the English arrived there; but on the basis of continuous settlemt since the 1830s, I think it is reasonable to regard the Falkland Islanders as the legitimate inhabitants, and that their wishes should be the determining factor. Though a situation might have arisen in which the British government thought that it was just too expensive to protect and support them; before the conflict, it was seriously willing to consider a deal with the Argentinians.
Thank you for the link; no penguins around when I looked, I wil have to go back later!
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