Foreign Affairs: Each week, it is my responsibility to inform the readers of The Evans Review about events occurring abroad, in a manner which holds no bias and reports factual events. However, it is also important to ensure that what is perused on the Foreign Affairs website page is not simply a re-reporting of coverage provided by the major news organisations. Instead of briefly summarising the myriad of events that take place, the attention of this weekly article will focus on one or two influential events that have taken place within the last seven days. The analysis of these events will be subjective and wide ranging, dealing with anything from the Afghanistan conflict and Pakistan’s fragile state, to America’s 2012 Presidential Elections and Mexico’s struggle with the drugs culture.
Britain and Argentina: The Falklands In Contention (2011)
On a subject that is as contentious now as it was twenty nine years ago, two nations remain unresolved. The Falkland Islands, the subject of a war in 1982 between Britain and Argentina, are again in the middle of a heightening diplomatic dispute. Argentina’s sabre rattling earlier in the summer prompted the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to declare that the Falklands will remain in British hands as long as they wish. Taking into account that the islands have a majority of British-sympathetic islanders, the length of time promises to be extensive. The Argentineans, recognising the challenge of Cameron’s words, retaliated with the challenge that Britain is being arrogant in refusing to negotiate the future of these islands.
Had the challenge been raised before this year, the casual observer would presume an attempt by the Argentinean government to boost popularity ratings and encourage support for the return of the islands that the South American nation views as sovereign territory. In the past, this has been true; a government with a bad rapport with its citizens can raise a matter of national pride and ensure an almost-instant level of support for the topic.
The influential catalyst of Argentina’s latest attempt to reclaim its lost territory is the discovery of black gold, the unofficial factor behind the Bush and Blair’s intervention in the Middle East. A company has discovered reserves of oil in various areas around the coastlines and basins of the Falklands, leading to investors increasing their interest in the oil-exploration companies.
For Argentina, the bitterness has increased with the breaking of the news. Prior to these discoveries, the Falkland Islands represented a matter of national pride, territory taken from them in a war against superior British forces. In the 1980’s, the islands themselves were not particularly valuable. Their geographic position did not enable a military advantage on the world stage, and the monetary worth certainly did not justify the expenditure of the military invasion. It is safe to say that Thatcher had no knowledge of oil reserves of any value existing there; it was an opportunity to establish Britain’s authority over its rapidly diminishing reputation as a world player, as well as defending British international interests.
Whether or not Britain has the capabilities to defend the Falkland Islands against another Argentinean invasion remains to be seen. What is clear is that oil has influenced the decisions of nations to intervene in the Middle East. Even between placid countries like Iceland and Greenland, disputes are arising over reserves being revealed by the receding Arctic. Thus, it is refreshing to see a politician send a clear, direct message about the threat over an overseas territory. The sacrifice made by Britain’s troops should not pave the way for Britain to meekly yield the Islands when put under pressure.
In the next few years, disputes will become more forceful as oil reserves reach critical levels globally. Britain needs to ensure that diplomacy does not prevent protection being made available for communities under threat from oil-hungry countries.