Here’s another one of those “Oh, brother” columns. We’re supposed to take seriously that Barack Obama is not doing enough to resist Argentina’s expressed desire to integrate the Falkland Islands into the country, even though the author of this article sheepishly admits he is doing exactly the same thing Ronald Reagan did in 1982, just before Argentina invaded those islands and the US sided with the UK in defending them. What is this article really about? It’s about creating bad press for the President during an election campaign. Nothing else.
The big difference, according to the article’s author, is that back in 1982 Argentina was being run by friends of the US, whereas now it is being run by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who presumably is anti-American (I suppose because of her economic policies, which probably threaten American bankers a lot). So Reagan risked nothing by allowing “pro-American” Argentinians to take control of the Falklands while Obama risks everything by allowing “anti-American” to do so.
You’ll pardon me if I see this a little differently than our history-challenged author.
The big difference, according to me, is that back in 1982, Argentina was run by dictators who slaughtered anyone that stood in their path, whereas now it is being run by a democratically-elected government. Reagan supported the Argentinian dictators, Obama supports Argentina’s democracy.
In one sense, nothing has changed since 1982. The residents of the Falklands are still overwhelmingly opposed to becoming part of Argentina, and this is what matters from a democratic point of view. Argentina’s case would be bolstered if there were even a handful of people on the islands who seemed to want to be part of Argentina, but there aren’t. The people of the Falklands resolutely want to remain part of Britain.
But this article uses that fact as a basis to go stampeding off into the ridiculous. Consider, for a moment, that there are similar disputes around the world to the Falklands dispute. Gibraltar, for example, is quite analogous. Spain has wanted to integrate Gibraltar into the country for as long as anyone remembers – but the residents of Gibraltar, by a large margin, want to remain part of Britain. Yet, no one accuses Spain of being hostile by articulating its claim, and both sides are willing to continue talking about the dispute without blowing it up into some kind of major foreign policy incident.
Why can’t the same be true here? It seems to me more like the author of this article wants to create an incident where none exists.
Of course, if the UK had a progressive prime minister and it was election year, perhaps the author would be writing similar articles about Gibraltar and the evil Spanish hordes…