On Jan. 3, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, published an open letter demanding the United Kingdom return the Falkland Islands back to her country. The Falklands are a British territory about the size of New Jersey 300 miles off the coast of Argentina, but Argentina has no more claim to the Falklands than Michigan has to Toledo.
In 1982, Argentina, under a military dictatorship, invaded the Falklands. The Argentines counted on the U.K. to wimp out and retreat. Instead, the U.K. sent a naval task force that defeated the technically inferior Argentine invaders, and 649 Argentine and 255 British military personnel died, as well as three civilian Falkland Islanders. The war got Britain really pumped up and caused Argentina’s corrupt dictatorship to collapse.
Problem solved forever? Nope.
Now Argentina is painting the war as the U.K. taking the islands from them, but the last time Argentina controlled the islands was 1833. That’s 180 years ago, or about the same as viewing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video 7 million times. Any Argentine who lived on the Falklands the last time it was an Argentinian territory must have died at least 70 years ago.
There are 3,140 people who permanently live on the island. They are mostly descended from British people; the Falklands have no native inhabitants. In case you were wondering, the Islanders have not expressed any interest in joining with Argentina.
The close proximity of the Falklands to Argentina is sometimes used as evidence that it should belong to Argentina. Then why not give it to Chile, which is also close, just to anger the Argentines? Can I have my suitemate’s TV because I live 10 feet from him?
A final blast of the trumpet announcing Argentina’s shenanigans is the intellectual dishonesty of President Fernández. Argentina inherited the islands from Spain (who violently stole the land from Britain in 1770) and maintained a tiny colony there for a few decades before abandoning it.
Argentina is far from a victim of history. In the 1870s, Argentina brutally conquered the southern region of Patagonia, off of which the Falklands lie. Many historians describe this “Conquest of the Desert” as genocidal.
The people in Argentina who are pushing the Falklands issue are doing so because Argentina’s economy is in the dumps and they have massive debts. Sound familiar? The 1982 invasion was concocted to distract people from similar economic stagnation and political oppression. This is just a rehash of the same old tactics.If anything good comes from this situation, short of Argentina sobering up, it would be that we Americans recognize a lesson in not being fooled by the scapegoats of politicians. Thank God such a thing has not yet happened in our own illustrious history.
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