The Falklands

oshron

Ad Honorem
Jun 2009
3,690
western Terranova
#1
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?
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,180
Welsh Marches
#2
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.
 

Yorgos

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,582
#3
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.
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.

But I do feel sympathy for Argentina. Not because the fact that Argentina was humiliated by the defeat, it deserved it as any invador does, but for the political background: a Junta lead (and manage to convince) a people to a disastrous war in order to gain credibility and then Argentinian young people returned in a coffer. Ironically enough, Democracy has been restored to a humiliated country. Its price was the lost of dignity and the torturing experience of a short but violent war. Argentinian soldiers were uneducated, too young, recruited at the last moment and were starving at the islands as provisions were too insufficient and they were not allowed to ask for food to local people (invadors wanted them to their side...). And the survivors came back to a country where Junta propaganda made people treat them as cowards. The post-Malvinas/Falklands syndrome was way strong in a country and a time where psychological services to veterans were rather a joke than a reality.

The other side of the hill is that Maggie Thatcher, great supporter of the most cruel dictatorship in Latin America, Pinochet's regime, won credibility in UK while Dictatorship fall in Argentina. This is a very uncomfortable situation, even though it was good to see democracy back for Argentina and even tough it was a fair end of an invasion: even if Argentina accessed democracy it was in ashes and it is not a pleasure to see Thatcher win credibility and at the same time supporting Pinochet, in order to find allies in the region.

Linschoten, you are right as a British person and not only with this quality. It was a dirty war with the only fair end for local people. But there are many dark sides to this fair victory.

Allow me also to express my disagreement with your suggestion that the problem would be easier if these islands were uninhabited. Also South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands were part of the war, where there are only some members of scientist missions. Besides, the dispute with Argentina lies also on the Antarctic peninsula, which is claimed by three nations: the UK, Argentina and, surprisingly enough, from Chile, which is the most loyal ally of the UK in south America.
Minerals and fish licences are too important to be left easily by the UK, which is not to blame.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,180
Welsh Marches
#4
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.
 

Yorgos

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,582
#5
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.
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 also definitely agree with you that the issue is more political than economical now and that the UK had and still has to defend its citizens.

As for who has the right to claim these islands, indeed, the UK has a legitimate argument that is sufficient to support its sovereignty over the Malvinas/Falklands : the will of the inhabitants of the islands. Argentinian claim is based on hispanic past and to vicinity and is way too weak to be more important than the right to self-determination of inhabitants.

Back in history, I can easily imagine these islands as a paradise for penguins (it would still be, if it weren't for the over-fishing). And, it is no hard to laugh when thinking of the first colons frozen by the cold winds as seen by seals and penguins, the only historical inhabitants of the island. Especially when speaking about South Georgia, human colonization is not there really for laughing: the wailing industry had caused one of the most important environmental disasters: not only the slaughter of the wales and seals has reached its peak exactly in South Georgia, but rats brought there by ships destroyed all nests of Albatrosses, who had no experience of such an invador... Ironically for this sick industry, seals and penguins are now lazily getting some of the rare sun around the ruins of the slaughter facilities. There is an excellent site with a web cam and it is funny to see penguins and seals in front of the camera: http://sgisland.gs/index.php/(h)South_Georgia_Webcam2?useskin=

Speaking about nature and environmental issues, I am glad that these islands belong to the UK since it is more likely that the UK authorities would, in a long term, respect more the ecosystem of the south Atlantic than Argentina. Up to now, overfishing is not under efficient control. At least, local government seem to be aware of the problem.
 

Yorgos

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,582
#6
Just an add of the last moment: rats did not reached only one island of the archipelago of South Georgia, which is strictly preserved now thanks to Britain authorities: it is named bird island for obvious reasons. This is, for me, a very serious argument supporting UK sovereignty over Falklands and its dependencies.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,180
Welsh Marches
#7
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!
 

Yorgos

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,582
#8
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!
I didn't know that the British presence is as ancient as the Spanish one. Thanks for the info, it is very important.
Would you know where the name Falklands comes from? I know that Malvinas is actually a French derived name, it comes from Saint-Malo, a small town in Normandy.

Here is two wonderfull pictures from yesterday (actually I visit often this site since I like both sea mammals and birds):

02 novembre 2010 tres beau paysage b.jpg

01 novembre 2010 un grand bateau devant la station a.jpg
 
Aug 2010
10,445
Wales
#9
A considerable amount of oil and gas have been discovered beneath the islands recently and as such is a new cause for tensions. Since Argentina ripped up a previous agreement over the rights and exploitation of such resources a few years ago, and are now whinging that they are not involved.
 
May 2010
2,964
Rhondda
#10
The place has the population of a small British village and its defense has cost so much that every one of its people could have lived here at home in incredible comfort for the rest of his/her life on a tiny proportion of what has been spent. Relatives of mine were fighting on the other side too. What jackbooted clowns those Argentinian generals were, and how could any British government NOT have fought sooner than kow-tow to such low-lifes? 'Aw a muddle'!