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Mierda Sea
February 7, 2012 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Argentina will take Falklands claim to the UN Cristina Kirchner warns of 'grave risks to international security' and states intention to prevent war over natural resources. (Argentina) has mobilised much of South America and the Caribbean in a diplomatic and commercial squeeze. Ships flying the Falklands flag are barred from the region's ports, depriving the islands of bananas and other fresh fruit.

Two weeks ago, Argentina's official news agency, Telam, started a Malvinas page with banner pictures of Argentinian jet fighters, helicopters, tanks and soldiers.

A correspondent for the newspaper Clarin reported harsh sentiments from Stanley on Tuesday. The article quoted islanders referring to "fucking Argies" and was illustrated with a photograph of a gift shop mug with an altered map of South America that replaced Argentina with blue emptiness named "Mierda Sea". Mierda means "shit" in Spanish.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The people of the Falkland Islands are British out of choice. They are free to determine their own future and there will be no negotiations with Argentina over sovereignty unless the islanders wish it."

Background on the 1982 Falklands War:

Wikipedia
Falklands War part 1 of 15
BATTLE ATLAS of the FALKLANDS WAR 1982 by Land, Sea and Air
Falklands War (podcast)
posted by KokuRyu (124 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
England? What's that behind your back?
posted by maryr at 7:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Since when does the Falklands have its own flag?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:32 PM on February 7, 2012


It has a very nice picture of a sheep
posted by KokuRyu at 7:34 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


STRATEGIC SHEEP PURPOSES
posted by elizardbits at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I can just barely remember the Falklands War when it happened; I was just old enough to partially register it as an event (I can vividly remember some of the graphic photos from the ships) without at all understanding its context or history. Within the last couple of months, I have been seeing articles that make it sound like things are on track for another confrontation; it's hard to imagine the UK having the balls or the interest to fight that war a second time, but there's a weird logic that comes into play when "national interests" and "national pride" are at stake, so I wouldn't want to put money on a specific outcome.
posted by Forktine at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


According to Wikipedia, "the islands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory, with the United Kingdom responsible for its defence and foreign affairs."

This would make the islands like the Turks and Caicos etc.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2012


Any guano there?
posted by Flunkie at 7:36 PM on February 7, 2012


*highfives elizardbits*
posted by maryr at 7:36 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


President Fernández is risking the worst outcome of all—that David Cameron ends up looking like a hero.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:39 PM on February 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Coincidentally, I was just looking at this page of pictures of Pia Zadora's memorable appearance at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival - which occurred at the very same time.
posted by Trurl at 7:40 PM on February 7, 2012


The people who've been living there for many generations are 100% British, and 100% against becoming Argentinians. If the principle of self determination is to mean anything I don't see how the status quo can ever change in the Falklands (and Gibraltar).
posted by Meatbomb at 7:40 PM on February 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is the implication supposed to be that the UK is about to attack Argentina for it's resources? I have some trouble imaging that happening.

I mean, I can believe that Britain would go to war to defend the Falklands, but what would they have to gain from being the aggressors?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:40 PM on February 7, 2012


Even folks on sailboats are having problems with Argentinian formalities:

The latest condition being applied by Argentina, is the requirement that, even if not calling at the Falkland, the skipper of yachts sailing to of from an Argentinian port via the Atlantic, must complete a form Anexo 2 where he makes a sworn statement in the presence of an Argentine consul or a coastguard officer not to visit the Falkland Islands.
posted by sammyo at 7:40 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's hard to imagine the UK having the balls or the interest to fight that war a second time

I find it very easy to imagine. We aren't talking China here, or Hong Kong people. Britain will not have any more trouble this time than the last, if it happens. Stupid failure of diplomacy, but in the end just a sideshow for most of us...
posted by Chuckles at 7:42 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is the implication supposed to be that the UK is about to attack Argentina for it's resources? I have some trouble imaging that happening.

I mean, I can believe that Britain would go to war to defend the Falklands, but what would they have to gain from being the aggressors?


Something I left out of my cribbing from the original Guardian article is that last year Britain started exploring (or drilling?) for oil and gas off of the Falklands.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:44 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's be clear - Argentina cannot and will not start another war. They are also not interested in the Islanders or the Islands themselves. They already have millions of square kilometres of windswept Patagonian steppe that they're not doing anything with.

CFK likes to play the victim. She likes to pretend Argentina is a world power and can get other countries to do stuff for her. She loves to moan on about the big bad Colonialists. What she doesn't like to do is actually explain why Argentina has a claim other than "We Say So" and whitter on about seabirds. She also doesn't like to mention the fact that the main fucking reason that the South Atlantic is militarised in the first place is because Argentina sent an army to "retake" the islands from 3000 people and half a million penguins 30 years ago. And those 3000 people don't want that happening again.
posted by jontyjago at 7:45 PM on February 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Britain will not have any more trouble this time than the last, if it happens.

Actually, a British victory in 1982 was no sure thing - it stressed Britain's military and logistical capabilities to the limit, plus the Argentines were able to sink and severely damage a considerable number of ships.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Britain will not have any more trouble this time than the last, if it happens.

The importance of Brazil's foreign trade has changed over the past three or so decades, which might help shift some of those calculations. The creepy thing, though, is that if I compare what I see of discourse from the UK now with what you see in portrayals of the early 80s in films (eg), there are plenty of overlaps, with concerns about national decline, etc. What better answer than a tidy little war?
posted by Forktine at 7:49 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's hope Argentine revanchism doesn't lead to another war. This really is a totally unnecessary flare-up, and a pretty despicable act of political theatre by the Argentinians. The idea that a colonial claim from almost 200 years ago should trump the rights of islanders whose families have been living there for generations is ludicrous. And accusing the British of militarising the dispute when it's your country that has a recent history of unprovoked invasions is rich beyond words. Want the British to stop patrolling? Drop your claim to the islands.

it's hard to imagine the UK having the balls or the interest to fight that war a second time

On the contrary, it's hard to imagine the British accepting Argentine aggression after losing hundreds of soldiers defeating it 30 years ago. Though they may have no choice given the gap in carrier capability between the retirement of the Invincible class and the commissioning of the Queen Elizabeth class. I do think the British will be smart enough this time around to leave a submarine on patrol to deter any contemplated invasion. And I think the Argentinians know enough not to try.
posted by Dasein at 7:49 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It was certainly a sure thing. It was unclear if they could do it without Ray-Gun-Ronnie's help, but it was always a sure thing.
posted by Chuckles at 7:49 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Literal question based on a Planet Money I listened to recently - can Argentina afford to go to war?
posted by maryr at 7:50 PM on February 7, 2012


Actually, a British victory in 1982 was no sure thing

At least part of the reason for that was that the UK didn't take the threat seriously enough and soon enough. They thought it wouldn't actually happen, then they figured a bit of a military show would stop it all and when it didn't we'd lost ships that would have made it decisive. The ramp up of the initial half-arsed response (and the speed to ramp up) was most of the problem.

I think this time there will be no fucking about.
posted by Brockles at 7:52 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


She also accuses Cameron of using this to divert attention from economic problems at home, which on a small scale he may well be doing. It's a bit rich coming from her though. These non-statements have coming thick and fast recently and make headlines every day, at a time when transport prices, utility bills and pretty much everything else are doubling and tripling.
posted by jontyjago at 7:52 PM on February 7, 2012


Let's be clear - Argentina cannot and will not start another war. They are also not interested in the Islanders or the Islands themselves. They already have millions of square kilometres of windswept Patagonian steppe that they're not doing anything with.

Yeah, I'm putting a war in the "very unlikely" column too. I guess this is more about grandstanding in domestic politics than anything else. She may, however, achieve the unenviable position of making Cameron look like a calm and rational statesman. Kirchner is looking really silly from where I'm sitting, and I'm hardly an arch–imperialist.

The UK has offered to take the issue to the UN in the past, for what it's worth.
posted by Jehan at 7:56 PM on February 7, 2012


it's hard to imagine the UK having the balls or the interest to fight that war

Never underestimate the resolve of the Brits. They might come across as a bunch of bird-watching tea-snoggling, crumpet-hounds, to outsiders; but aggressors mess with them at their peril.

Also, Harrier Jump Jets.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:58 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't believe in national self-determination (because I don't believe in nations and I think that nationalism is a short road to ethnic discrimination and conflict).

But I do believe in the self-determination of communities and regions - and the Falkland islanders have made their own will completely clear. if the UN goes against this, it makes a mockery of its supposed support for human and civil rights.
posted by jb at 8:01 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kirchner is looking pretty silly yeah this another thing she doesn't give a shit about. She was re-elected last October with 54% of the national vote, and that was with 9 opponents. Her nearest rival got 19%. Regardless of political affiliation, most Argentines believe the Falklands to be theirs. Her supporters are very happy tonight because she is going to the UN and that's what important countries do. Like, you know, Britain.
posted by jontyjago at 8:02 PM on February 7, 2012


Haven't British Harriers been retired? And they make great targets for heat-seeking missiles.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no idea, KokuRyu. But those planes kicked ass in that war. England had complete air superiority within a few days, and it was the Harriers were instrumental in that.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2012


How quickly they forget.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2012


England had complete air superiority within a few days

I don't think this is accurate. Their ships were getting strafed continuously as troops disembarked. The Harriers did better in air-to-air combat, but the Argentinian air force was always a threat.
posted by Dasein at 8:17 PM on February 7, 2012


Britain will not have any more trouble this time than the last

I suspect anti-ship weapons have advanced in capabilities faster than anti-ship weapon defenses since the 1980s (see also: drones, cruise missiles, etc).
posted by zippy at 8:17 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, that statement was inaccurate, Daesin. Also, the Harrier is now retired

Funny how my brain doesn't work, sometimes.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2012


No real idea, but I'd imagine that Britain, as a nation with its own considerable manufacturing capability, a member of NATO and a major US ally, has probably got better weapons than Argentina. That's not a knock on Argentina, it's just that Britain has had a lot more cause to invest in defense.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:21 PM on February 7, 2012


I also doubt it will get to the point of a war. But if it heads that way, and the entire Conasur stands with Argentina, that's a pretty large trading block, and one with better ties to China these days than maybe we like to think.

My point is just that the world of 2012 is not the world of 1982. I'm not saying that in a direct conflict Argentina would win (quite the opposite, I would think), just that the calculations around going to war are not the same as they once were.
posted by Forktine at 8:21 PM on February 7, 2012


zippy, Britain's new Type 45 destroyers are more than a match for anything Argentina has at the moment, and are designed to deal with the new supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. Let's hope we never have to find out if they work or not.
posted by Dasein at 8:21 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


the entire Conasur stands with Argentina

In whinging pathetically about the British, sure. That's a long way from fighting alongside them.
posted by Dasein at 8:22 PM on February 7, 2012


There's only two reasons for Argentina to be talking about the Falklands.

1) The search for oil finally turned something up.
2) They're having internal political/economic troubles.

Number one has never happened. Number two happens all the time.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:26 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I also doubt it will get to the point of a war. But if it heads that way, and the entire Conasur stands with Argentina, that's a pretty large trading block, and one with better ties to China these days than maybe we like to think.

The legal position of the Falkland Islands as part of the UK is written into EU treaties. I don't know how the EU would react if an invasion took place today, but I believe the EEC was pretty supportive in 1982. The EU is a large source of foreign income for Argentina.

A war is just so unlikely, really.
posted by Jehan at 8:27 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell - forget? Argentina names lots of things. It was announced yesterday that the Football League 2012 will henceforth be known as the ARA Cruiser General Belgrano League. I kid you not.
posted by jontyjago at 8:27 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There won't be a war. The Argentinians pulled this stunt once and they're still licking their wounds from that one. This is about oil and a diversion from their shitty economy they can't fix because they have one of the most fucked political systems (not to mention political culture) in Latin America.

Which is too bad. I love Argentinians love Argentina (and miss visiting it terribly).
posted by falameufilho at 8:29 PM on February 7, 2012


I don't know how the EU would react if an invasion took place today, but I believe the EEC was pretty supportive in 1982

The French refused to supply the British with codes that would have disabled the Argentinians' Exocet missiles, because they didn't want to lose export sales of the missiles.
posted by Dasein at 8:29 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]



Let's be clear - Argentina cannot and will not start another war. They are also not interested in the Islanders or the Islands themselves. They already have millions of square kilometres of windswept Patagonian steppe that they're not doing anything with.

I do think this is going to guarantee that both of the new British aircraft carriers currently under construction are completed, and outfitted, budget crisis be damned.
posted by thewalrus at 8:30 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


It was announced yesterday that the Football League 2012 will henceforth be known as the ARA Cruiser General Belgrano League.

Nothing in this world is more pathetic than Argentinians (especially those in leadership positions at the time of the war) whining about how the British sunk their warship in a war that the Argentinians started without provocation. It sort of redefines chutzpah. I expect that this football league will be marked by players attacking each other and then appealing for public sympathy when they're given red cards.
posted by Dasein at 8:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Forktine: "Britain will not have any more trouble this time than the last, if it happens.

The importance of Brazil's foreign trade has changed over the past three or so decades, which might help shift some of those calculations. The creepy thing, though, is that if I compare what I see of discourse from the UK now with what you see in portrayals of the early 80s in films (eg), there are plenty of overlaps, with concerns about national decline, etc. What better answer than a tidy little war?
"

LET'S START A WAR! (said maggie one day)
posted by symbioid at 8:32 PM on February 7, 2012


Forgot to say, this is the best possible thing that can happen for the British domestic defence industry... Whoever is building those aircraft carriers, the shipyard currently building new Astute class nuclear submarines, and so forth. Whether there is actually any chance of going to war again (and I put that at about 1%) is moot.
posted by thewalrus at 8:33 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know how the EU would react if an invasion took place today, but I believe the EEC was pretty supportive in 1982
The French refused to supply the British with codes that would have disabled the Argentinians' Exocet missiles, because they didn't want to lose export sales of the missiles.
Are you sure about that? According to this, the British Defence Secretary at the time (John Nott) has written what seems to be the opposite:
France and President Mitterand "were in many ways (Britain's) greatest allies". The most formidable weapon in Argentina's arsenal was the French built Super Etendard strike aircraft and Exocet missile which sank some British ships. Nott writes: "As soon as the conflict began Hernou (French Defence Minister) got in touch with me to make available a Super-Etendard and Mirage aircraft so our Harrier pilots could train against them before setting off to the South Atlantic. The French supplied detailed technical information on the Exocet, showing us how to tamper with the missiles.

Britain launched a clandestine international plot to block supplies to Argentina. "A remarkable world-wide operation then ensured to prevent further Exocets being bought by Argentina. I authorised our agents to pose as bona fide purchasers of equipment on the international market, ensuring that we outbid the Argentineans. Other agents identified Exocet missiles in various markets and covertly rendered them inoperable, based on information from the French. It was a remarkably successful operation.
posted by Flunkie at 8:38 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


The French refused to supply the British with codes that would have disabled the Argentinians' Exocet missiles, because they didn't want to lose export sales of the missiles.

I don't know about that specific claim, but the French were generally helpful to the UK war effort. Besides, the possibility of economic sanctions are more relevant to my mind.
posted by Jehan at 8:38 PM on February 7, 2012


the Harrier is now retired

There's a flight of Typhoons on the islands now. Not to be fucked with. *looks* Especially not with the old Mirages and derivatives Argentina has.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:44 PM on February 7, 2012


I think it's pretty unlikely that the Argentinians will try anything. The British are at least somewhat prepared this time, which means any future attempt to take the islands will necessarily involve killing a bunch of British soldiers. The international community will be outraged and public opinion will be very much against the Argentinians - this means that the US and other countries allied with Britain will almost certainly be willing to help. Against the US air force and navy, the Argentinian air force and navy hasn't got a prayer. That stops any further troop movement or supply to the islands and should result in the quick surrender of any stranded ground forces.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:51 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you sure about that?

I'm going from memory. The text you quote would seem to call my memory into question, so now I'm not sure. A little Googling would suggest that I have, indeed, misremembered (though I'm not sure how much stock I put in the claim that Thatcher threatened to nuke Argentina). Maybe the French only gave the codes after the Sheffield, but had been asked before?
posted by Dasein at 8:52 PM on February 7, 2012


I'm not surprised to hear that ROU_Xenophobe, having spent some time reading about the history of that jet and, comparing it to my memory.

As I recalled, in air to air combat, the Harrier pilots were undefeated; and accounted for almost 1/3 of Argentine fighter losses. Their ability to basically just stop in mid-flight and then pop-up behind a pursuing enemy seems so advantageous that I am unsurprised that operational troops are dismayed by it's (unavailable)replacement.


I'm going from memory. The text you quote would seem to call my memory into question, so now I'm not sure.

Yep. This Internet tool we have for testing our recollection of events against the knowledge that's been collected and archived in the interim is truly a wonder.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:00 PM on February 7, 2012


Everything I know about the Falklands is from that one Crass lp.
posted by wayland at 9:06 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


We'll know things are getting serious if the BBC bans "Six Months In a Leaky Boat" again, on the grounds that it will lower morale among Her Majesty's Navy.
posted by scody at 9:08 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Their ability to basically just stop in mid-flight and then pop-up behind a pursuing enemy

I'm no Harrier pilot, so I would have to wonder if the jet could really do that.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:13 PM on February 7, 2012


If have to wonder if the South American support for Argentina's claim on the Falklands is any stronger than support for China's claims to Taiwan. It's just something stupid you have to say if you want to do business with those countries - no one is going to *risk* anything for it.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:21 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm no Harrier pilot, so I would have to wonder if the jet could really do that.

'Stop' may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the vector nozzles on a Harrier allow for dramatic deceleration, while popping up and thus causing a tailing jet to overshoot.

The tactic was referred to as 'viffing', from VIFF: 'Vectoring In Forward Flight'. There are a references about.

See James May demonstrate this at 5m .
posted by pompomtom at 9:35 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Everything I know is from "The Tin Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman"
Annoying reading of the fantastic kids book on YouTube

posted by panaceanot at 9:45 PM on February 7, 2012


I remember my British father swearing at the radio as the British casualty reports were broadcast. To this day Argentina is spoken of in my parents' household with severe distain.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:57 PM on February 7, 2012


in a war that the Argentinians started without provocation.

...other than the fact that they were reclaiming territory that's been occupied by the British since 1833.

Not that it changes much, but it's not like Argentina got out of bed one morning and said "Hey! Let's claim ownership of the Maldives!". The dispute has been going on a long long time.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:26 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Their ability to basically just stop in mid-flight

Yeah, the italics I used there were meant to convey quotation marks. Jets can't actually stop in midair.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:26 PM on February 7, 2012


(or possibly a long long time.)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:27 PM on February 7, 2012


Jets can't actually stop in midair.

Watch the vid.
posted by pompomtom at 10:31 PM on February 7, 2012


It would be kind of cool if Argentina did invade the Maldives. But they'd have to go around India or Africa to get there.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:35 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember the tactic quite well, and am unconvinced that the video (which won't load for me) will show me anything new. As I said, that plane kicked ass in that engagement, and it was the sudden stopping capability which delivered this.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2012


Man, shitty ass Tories in power, economic gloom, and now this... the 80s retro fad has gone too far.
posted by Artw at 10:53 PM on February 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Two weeks ago, Argentina's official news agency, Telam, started a Malvinas page with banner pictures of Argentinian jet fighters, helicopters, tanks and soldiers.

Soldiers? Conscripts running away or surrendering, presumably? Or being tortured by their superior officers?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:54 PM on February 7, 2012


"Sorry, these islanders are British by choice. Perhaps we could interest you in this Scotland instead?"
posted by bicyclefish at 10:56 PM on February 7, 2012 [19 favorites]


Good thing they are taking this territorial dispute to the UN - a swift and conclusive resolution will be good for everybody involved.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:03 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies: The Argentines are hardly innocent victims of colonialism.

Unless they're planning on handing back Patagonia to the indigenous peoples, saying that having possession of a territory nearly 2 centuries ago is moral grounds to reclaim it today is hyporcritical in the extreme.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:33 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is the implication supposed to be that the UK is about to attack Argentina for it's resources? I have some trouble imaging that happening.

Well, from the Argy point of view, they're their islands, and any exploitation of natural resources there would be invasion and theft. Potentially they may themselves try to push the issue by trying to get at any oil or gas deposits speculated to lie below, prompting British action to remove such.

The French refused to supply the British with codes that would have disabled the Argentinians' Exocet missiles, because they didn't want to lose export sales of the missiles.

Doubtless what you are recalling is the French maintaining strategic ambiguity prior to hostilities (and indeed, potentially for many years afterward). This would disguise whether the British had the counter-capability until it was, in fact, needed.

I distinctly remember the US leaking and/or making a big show -- Haig in particular -- of pretending not to know in advance which of their allies they would support. I hope the Argentines didn't believe any of it and suspect they would be the benefactors. It was pretty silly and exaggerated to anyone who had a modicum of understanding of the Special Relationship, Suez Crisis notwithstanding, and the Reagan-Thatcher meeting of minds to boot. Ostensibly this all protected the US viability as a go-between, but it was pretty obvious what the real reason was.

Regardless of political affiliation, most Argentines believe the Falklands to be theirs.

This part I just don't get. There was a brief occupation -- two centuries ago. Britain was not the colonial power they gained their independence from. Aside from the fact they're close by on the average world map, why does Argentina have this visceral need to consider them theirs by moral right?

I mean, the US is a more-or-less imperialist power, and yet we've had a number of territories in our possession that aren't any more, and even among the most retrograde jingoist you hardly ever hear a whimper. Where is the claque to retake Cuba, or the Philippines? Where is the resentment of the Oregon Treaty? There's some lingering revanchism over the Panama Canal Treaty, but that's as much about the global strategic value as anything else, and it isn't the Panamanians we resent -- it is or was supposedly the Chinese. Frankly, years and years ago I read some John Bircher going on about the indignity of the US allowing a Soviet gulag on Wrangel Island. But really, go to any US high school and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who knows, or more pertinently, cares, that we once owned these lands.

These islands have not been Argentine in living memory, or even six to eight generations back lore. Even the few settlers there under the Argentine flag were likely polyglot castoffs from the Atlantic shipping trade. Does anyone on the mainland claim descent from any former Malvinean? Where does this all come from?

In the long run even China seems to have grasped the value of the carrot and stick approach. What's the endgame here?
posted by dhartung at 11:57 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The 82 conflict was entirely predictable and completely avoidable. Previous British governments had sent submarines to ostentatiously patrol around the islands when it seemed like the Argentinians were preparing to invade. The Royal Navy, or part of it, knew full well that it was going to happen. Thatcher should have gone down for it, but Carrington took the bullet for her.

Many people think of the 82 as a dazzling display of British derring-do and hardware, or else an absurd late-colonial skirmish comparable to Grenada. It was neither. The British could have lost the war and did in fact lose many ships. The thousand casualties, on both sides, was a very high proportion of the number of combatants. It was a very nasty little war and its legacy is still with us in the shape of swathes of the Islands riddled with landmines and the large, permanent military presence, to say nothing of the maimed and bereaved on both sides.

Words like "celebration" were grotesquely used in the UK around the 25th anniversary in 2007. Some critics of the British role also miss the point in focussing obsessively on the Belgrano (which is certainly a murky story) or on downplaying the wishes of the Falklanders. None of it should have happened: the fact that it's unlikely to do so again is not much of a consolation.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 11:59 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not surprised to hear that ROU_Xenophobe, having spent some time reading about the history of that jet and, comparing it to my memory.

I am confused. Are we talking past each other? You seem to be saying that having the Typhoons there is in some way worse.

A flight of Typhoons is a much more formidable air defense capability than... many... Harriers. My (casual) sense of them is that you really, really, really, would not want to go against one in anything less than an F-15 or Su-27 family, and even then you would probably die.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:17 AM on February 8, 2012


Don't lose heart, Harrier lovers - the Brits sold theirs to the USMC so they're still out there.

If things turn hot, I hope the UK kicks butt decisively - I'm ashamed to admit it but I would not expect the US to assist them this time around.
posted by codswallop at 12:49 AM on February 8, 2012


This is about oil and a diversion from their shitty economy they can't fix because they have one of the most fucked political systems

Well, that does sound familiar, with a certain country that seems to love going to war...

I'm ashamed to admit it but I would not expect the US to assist them this time around.

And then complain when the UK doesn't assist us for our next thing, that seems to be in the works at least.
posted by usagizero at 1:23 AM on February 8, 2012


And then complain when the UK doesn't assist us for our next thing, that seems to be in the works at least.

Don't worry, we'll be there BFF.
posted by Summer at 1:40 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Never underestimate the resolve of the Brits. They might come across as a bunch of bird-watching tea-snoggling, crumpet-hounds, to outsiders; but aggressors mess with them at their peril.

Operation Black Buck comes to mind. You can argue about the military impact but does show a level of determination
posted by Z303 at 1:44 AM on February 8, 2012


Man, shitty ass Tories in power, economic gloom, and now this... the 80s retro fad has gone too far.

Don't forget to add a royal wedding to the list.

As seen in this inspirational message to the Islanders from about then, you know the rules (and so do I): we can never give up, never let down, never turn around and desert the 80's.
posted by the cydonian at 1:45 AM on February 8, 2012


Hands off our Bennies!
posted by Abiezer at 1:51 AM on February 8, 2012


This is a welcome distraction for both Kirchner and Cameron.

However, neither can actually afford fighting a war, never mind losing one, so there will not be one. Also, the Argentines have a whole generation of traumatised war veterans from the Falklands, whereas the British have their own later war traumas.
posted by Skeptic at 2:03 AM on February 8, 2012


Operation Black Buck comes to mind

Well we only have one flying Vulcan left, I went to see it in the hanger last week and it's in no state to do that kind of mission again.

There's also no flying Victors, and the VC-10/Tristar fleet is getting very long in the tooth.

I've also met the pilot who flew Back Buck 1 (he flies the one remaining Vulcan) and although I'm sure he's a damn good pilot I doubt he'd like to fly that run again!
posted by hardcode at 2:11 AM on February 8, 2012


This is a welcome distraction for both Kirchner and Cameron.

Indeed. It's a big year for global power, with elections occurring in France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, and the United States, and a big power-change in China as well. Thus, one wonders if the timing of these "conflicts", in the Falklands, in Iran, and elsewhere, are convenient spectres to make cases for business as usual.

Granted, neither Argentina nor England has an election until 2015, however there is definitely a sense of regionalism growing world-wide. Argentinians seem to be in positive support over taking their land back. In the New Normal, European countries are increasingly coming under attack from their previous colonies, simply because its very obvious that with the Euro crisis going on, nobody in Europe is going to launch a vanity war.

If there is a case for war made in 2012 by the Europeans -- and by extension, Britain -- it will certainly be made against Iran.

This whole Falklands thing is a bit silly really. The people on the island are quite happy to remain British. It's not going to affect most Argentinians, beyond a fleeting feeling of superiority and a quick wave of political popularity.

That being said, although today, it is a bit of sabre-rattling from a Southern country, it is a sign of the on-going shift of global power from the wealthy Northern/Western countries to a more diffused sense of global power.

As mentioned, one might expect Cameron enjoys this diversion, as it's substantially more manageable an issue than 1) Britain's proper place in the EU, 2) the ongoing Euro crisis, 3) war with Iran, and 4) the ongoing failure of domestic job creation and increased economic activity.
posted by nickrussell at 2:24 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


These days I think it would be so much easier to fire a bunch of tomahawks from a sub.

I do hope things calm down and all this is just posturing. My dad was Stationed at RAF Wittering at the time, so the Falklands war was very real for me.
posted by Z303 at 2:34 AM on February 8, 2012


At least part of the reason for that was that the UK didn't take the threat seriously enough and soon enough. They thought it wouldn't actually happen, then they figured a bit of a military show would stop it all and when it didn't we'd lost ships that would have made it decisive. The ramp up of the initial half-arsed response (and the speed to ramp up) was most of the problem.

I think this time there will be no fucking about.


Apart from that the UK doesn't have any aircraft carriers capable of launching planes? And won't have until 2016?
posted by biffa at 2:42 AM on February 8, 2012


but does have RAF Mount Pleasant
posted by Z303 at 2:48 AM on February 8, 2012


The people on the island are quite happy to remain British.

This is somewhat of an understatement. The people on the islands generally hate the Argentines with a passionate intensity, for good or ill. Having been invaded well within living memory will do that.

The Argentine argument is that these people are not entitled to self determination as existing inhabitants were forced to leave in 1833 (although this is disputed as many were British naval mercenaries). This does however mean that even the Argentine argument is that no Argentine colony or population have existed on the islands for 179 years.
posted by jaduncan at 3:33 AM on February 8, 2012


Hands off our Bennies!

Nice gag.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 4:07 AM on February 8, 2012


Interview with Nigel Haywood, Governor of the Falkland Islands
posted by jontyjago at 4:24 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


What really irks me about this is: why must it always be the Falklands? Why doesn't anyone try to invade one of the murkiest British Overseas Territories, like the Cayman Islands, or the British Virgin Islands. I mean, it isn't as if my own country, Spain, is doing much about Gibraltar.

Surely, any single one of those modern-day pirate nests is a much more severe impingement on the sovereignity of, oh, just about every other fucking nation on Earth than a bunch of remote sheep farmers is on Argentina's.

Can't anyone send a memo to Raul Castro, suggesting a Cuban invasion of, say, Anguilla. I'd just love to see Cameron send in a naval task force to defend "British sovereignity" in the Caribbean: for Queen, country and the tax-scrounging bankers.
posted by Skeptic at 5:12 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe some Norman revanchists could attempt the liberation of Jersey?
posted by Abiezer at 5:21 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Britain's sub fleet and cruise missile arsenal alone makes the conclusion foregone. What's more, they may have long-distance bomber drones, which means the UK can win without deploying a single ship to the region.

Argentina needs to ask itself how much they want to risk... if they start a conflict, the UK may retaliate with attacks on the mainland. While I doubt they'd bomb Buenos Aires, they could completely demolish Argentina's military... and Argentina has some longstanding territorial issues with its other neighbors.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:31 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


We could always try being the aggressor. We have a claim to being the colonialist oppressor of Hawaii that predates America's, for instance, AND it's actually nice there.
posted by Artw at 5:35 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can't anyone send a memo to Raul Castro, suggesting a Cuban invasion of, say, Anguilla. I'd just love to see Cameron send in a naval task force to defend "British sovereignity" in the Caribbean: for Queen, country and the tax-scrounging bankers.

There are still plenty of anti-Cuba hawks in the US who would love such an opportunity to go to war with Cuba.
posted by atrazine at 5:35 AM on February 8, 2012


Artw: "We could always try being the aggressor. We have a claim to being the colonialist oppressor of Hawaii that predates America's, for instance, AND it's actually nice there."

Living in Hawaii, I'm sure that many native-Hawaiians here would love to see that happen. At least it would provide some cover for all their sovereignty rhetoric.
posted by dealing away at 5:41 AM on February 8, 2012


Living in Hawaii, I'm sure that many native-Hawaiians here would love to see that happen.

As would the birthers! It's a win-win situation.
posted by Skeptic at 5:51 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another good background piece on the Falklands War is the 20th Century Battlefields episode on it.
posted by smackfu at 5:53 AM on February 8, 2012


Maybe some Norman revanchists could attempt the liberation of Jersey?

Arguably, if there are any Norman revanchists, they should be in Jersey and contemplate the liberation of their ancestral homeland from the Frankish invader instead...

Of course, if we go a little further back, maybe Norway would have to say about those "Norman" separatists too...
posted by Skeptic at 6:07 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to Wikipedia: A 1995 agreement between the UK and Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including oil reserves[103] as geological surveys had shown there might be up to 60 billion barrels (9.5 billion cubic metres) of oil under the sea bed surrounding the islands.[104] However, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement.[105] In response, Falklands Oil and Gas Limited has signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves.[106] Climatic conditions of the southern seas mean that exploitation will be a difficult task, though economically viable, and the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is hampering progress.[107]

In February 2010, exploratory drilling for oil was begun by Desire Petroleum,[108] but the results from the first test well were disappointing.[109] Two months later, on 6 May 2010, Rockhopper Exploration announced that "it may have struck oil".[110] Subsequent tests showed it to be a commercially viable find,[111] an appraisal project was launched [112] and on 14 September 2011 Rockhopper Exploration announced plans are under way for oil production to commence in 2016, through the use of Floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) technology.[113]

posted by Brian B. at 6:30 AM on February 8, 2012


The French refused to supply the British with codes that would have disabled the Argentinians' Exocet missiles, because they didn't want to lose export sales of the missiles.

According to Mitterrand's psychoanalyst, France handed over the codes after Thatcher threatened him that, if he didn't, Britain would launch a nuclear strike on Buenos Aires and the megadeaths would be on his conscience. He avenged France's national honour by proposing the Channel Tunnel, on terms Britain could not decline, and achieving what Napoleon III failed to: the end of Britain's splendid isolation from the Continet.
posted by acb at 6:42 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: only problem with re-claiming Hawaii for your Queen & country is, have you seen the prices there?!? That's one expensive place to live!
posted by easily confused at 6:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Argentina needs to ask itself how much they want to risk...

Argentina will not risk a thing. First of all they have nothing to risk, militarily speaking. The current power structure includes a lot of people directly affected by the human rights abuses and the military has effectively been disbanded in the last 20 years or so. The risk of another coup outweighs the inability to send another army of 20 year old conscripts to the Falklands.

Secondly, most people were expecting CFK to shut down the LAN airlink between Punta Arenas and Stanley which flies through Argentine airspace. This would have meant the only flight to the islands is the military planes from Ascension Island. She didn't do this. In fact she did nothing concrete - complaining to the UN about military operations that have been running every 6 months for the last 30 years in a territory that is not yours is not making anybody tremble in their boots.

All she did was confirm to the people who already follow her without question, that she is a true World Player. Argentina is desperate to be a world power, they hate being stuck out here at the end of South America surrounded by jungles and will do anything to get attention. This is just another chapter in a long story that will not finish they way she wants it to.
posted by jontyjago at 6:50 AM on February 8, 2012


According to Mitterrand's psychoanalyst, France handed over the codes after Thatcher threatened him that, if he didn't, Britain would launch a nuclear strike on Buenos Aires and the megadeaths would be on his conscience.

Wow, I knew psychoanalysts were full of bullshit, but that's some serious nonsense. Unless Mitterrand, who was a pathological liar himself, could not stop telling porkies even on the couch.
posted by Skeptic at 6:55 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would advise that the Falkland Islands make a counter-claim for the southern half of Argentina, because if Argentinians believe in their faulty logic of ownership of an island 290 miles away, then they just might be induced to surrender by the same argument.
posted by Brian B. at 6:56 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, shitty ass Tories in power, economic gloom, and now this... the 80s retro fad has gone too far.

I was born on the actual day of 'invasion'. I'm really, really glad I'm going to be out of the country for the anniversary. Turning thirty is reflective enough without it involving grainy pictures of Thatcher looking smug on the news.
posted by mippy at 7:40 AM on February 8, 2012


> This part I just don't get. There was a brief occupation -- two centuries ago. Britain was not the colonial power they gained their independence from. Aside from the fact they're close by on the average world map, why does Argentina have this visceral need to consider them theirs by moral right?

I'm not sure if you're serious, but just for the record, it is extremely common for nationalists to feel passionately about, or at least take seriously, territorial losses that happened centuries back. All of Central Europe and the Balkans is a living example of this (Transylvania! Macedonia! Kosovo Polje! Dobrugea! Bessarabia! The Banat! The Sanjak of Novi Pazar!); the Russians felt for centuries (and some doubtless still feel) that Constantinople and the Straits should be theirs even though they had never actually ruled them; the Chinese claim everything that any Chinese soldier ever set foot on, basically (when I was teaching in Taiwan I was quite surprised to find the sentiment that Vietnam was "really" Chinese, even though it had won its independence a thousand years ago); I could go on, but surely the point is clear. The United States has largely been in the business of gobbling up other people's territory rather than having its own gobbled up, so it's natural that there is not much in the way of revanchist sentiment here.

I went to high school in Argentina and can still belt out the national anthem ("Oid mortales el grito sagrado..."), so just so it doesn't go unsaid here: Las Islas Malvinas son argentinas!
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


so just so it doesn't go unsaid here: Las Islas Malvinas son argentinas!

As a Brit who lives in Argentina and who see this phrase every day scrawled on walls, allow me to retort here: No, they're fucking not.

Ooh, that felt good!
posted by jontyjago at 8:14 AM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


See, we can work out our nationalist fervors in a bloodless fashion here on MetaFilter!

*bashes beer mug over jontyjago's head*


Note: Not actually an Argentine, or any other, nationalist.
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on February 8, 2012


You two have a way to go before you can match the comments bunfight on the MercoPress pages.
posted by rory at 8:46 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, maybe Canada could liberate the Turks and Caicos from British oppression!
posted by Skeptic at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2012


Ah, crap. The "Canada" link is borked. Try this.
posted by Skeptic at 8:50 AM on February 8, 2012


And now Robert Wyatt with the musical interlude. Must be one of the best anti-war songs, "Diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls."
posted by Abiezer at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


So lovely to live in New England. There's an island offshore of Maine that remains disputed between the United States and Canada. (Machias Seal Island).

Until 2003, the putative American owner of the island would "invade" the island, backed up with a platoon of bird watchers who were paying him, and confront the Canadian lighthouse keepers who live on it. (And deliver their mail and necessaries..)

Barna Norton was a veteran of World War Two, and found this form of warfare much more congenial.
posted by ocschwar at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It would be kind of cool if Argentina did invade the Maldives. But they'd have to go around India or Africa to get there.

Oops. I agree it would be awesome though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2012


So lovely to live in New England. There's an island offshore of Maine that remains disputed between the United States and Canada. (Machias Seal Island).
Please sign my petition to the White House:
we petition the obama administration to:

Resolve the disputed sovereignty of Machias Seal Island, claimed by both the United States and Canada, by rolling a die.
posted by Flunkie at 10:55 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


s/rolling a die/Claw-Plach/g
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2012


Actually, flunkie, the dispute over Machias Seal Island means fishing rights around it are unallocated.

That is a good thing.

"Take up our quarrel with our foe, to you with dying hands we throw, the torch, be yours to hold up high.."
posted by ocschwar at 11:50 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, flunkie, the dispute over Machias Seal Island means fishing rights around it are unallocated.

That is a good thing.
Are you sure about that? Everything I've seen claims the opposite - lack of firm jurisdiction has lead to a free-for-all area, not a fish sanctuary, and in fact there are serious overfishing problems there.

For example, here's a summary blurb from Wikipedia:
There are little to no mineral or petroleum resources in the "grey zone"; however, there is a valuable lobster fishery. The local environment is likely to be the casualty of the sovereignty dispute, since fishermen from both countries are exploiting the lack of rules in the "grey zone" by overfishing various species.
Here's a Christian Science Monitor article, and here's a wikileaked cable.
posted by Flunkie at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2012


Ah, I misunderstood. I thought that was causing the area to be a closed zone.
posted by ocschwar at 3:12 PM on February 8, 2012


So now will you please sign my petition? :)
posted by Flunkie at 3:55 PM on February 8, 2012


Z303's link to the wikipedia page on the RAF base in the Falklands has the interesting detail that Prince William is due to serve a stint there over February/March, which adds another layer to consider.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:38 PM on February 8, 2012


I just finished watching the Falklands War part 1 of 15 I linked to above, and it is actually quite good, and presents a variety of viewpoints. Worth watching.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:25 PM on February 8, 2012


Sean Penn backs Argentina over Falkland Islands
posted by KokuRyu at 8:14 AM on February 14, 2012


The BBC on What are the competing claims?
posted by Z303 at 7:53 AM on February 16, 2012


and on Could Britain still defend the Falklands?
posted by Z303 at 5:38 AM on February 27, 2012


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