The inhabitants of the Falklands want to remain British. Picture by Eric Gaba.
This is, we're told, the post-colonial age when all nations have surrendered their empires and their protectorates to the whims of world affairs, scaling back their borders and standing down their imperial armies. But it seems someone forgot to tell the Argentinians; they've been making a lot of noise about the Falkland Islands recently, which, contrary to popular belief, are not actually a 'conquest' held down by an oppressive British imperialist attitude, but rather a willing part of the United Kingdom inhabited solely by people who are more than happy to be British citizens. Argentinia's goal is not one of reclamation - for they never owned the islands, and, apart from drawing upon the claims of their imperial predecessor, have no claim to them. It is one of imperialistic expansionism. They claim the South Georgia Islands and British Antarctica as well.
But it's not the Argentinians that are the problem. Britain can do nothing whatsoever to prevent them from retaking the islands, as revealed in the Telegraph, but Argentina lacks the capability to launch an invasion force capable of taking them in the first place. Its military is not what it was in the days of the junta. Rather, it's the attitude of the American government that is the problem: the US government has effectively taken Argentina's side in the 'debate,' firstly by calling for bilaterial negotiations on ownership of the islands - a position which the British government, and the island's inhabitants, find untenable - and secondly by calling them by the official Spanish name, Los Malvinas, which is used by the Argentinian government.
It's time for David Cameron to make it plain and clear to anyone who seeks to impose their will on British citizens by force of arms or diplomatic subversion that the right of self-determination for British citizens is absolutely non-negotiable. David Cameron might like to remind Mr. Obama that the islands are British; they want to say British. The first people who ever settled on them were European colonists - there is no question of 'indigenous rights' or 'native self-determination' for the British are the indigenous population. They are exercising their right to self-determination when they say that Argentinian rule is absolutely out of the question.
Not only is this retort morally sound, it also has a precedent under international law: the right of people in disputed territories to choose their government is the defining principle according to the UN. Whichever country they want to be a part of will enjoy the UN's backing. The inhabitants of the Falklands have consistently stated that it is their wish to remain a part of Britain, their native country, and Argentinia's claims - which are incredibly flimsly, as far as territorial claims go - cannot override that.
If that doesn't do, then our Prime Minister could point out the small matter of Afghanistan, where Britain has wasted hundreds of soldiers' lives and billions of pounds for no benefit whatsoever, with no end in sight, and how morally reprehensible it is for Mr. Obama to side with Argentina against the rights of British citizens when the United Kingdom is one of its key partners in international conflicts. If Mr. Obama takes this action any further, there should be repercussions: how about the UK scaling down its Afghan involvement, to the applause of the British public and the detriment of the United States military mission? Because, frankly, that's what Obama's treachery deserves. You do not ask us to give up our soldiers, our money, and our international reputation to continue to assist you in one of your errands and then turn around and take the side of our enemies when it comes a territorial dispute that should have ended in 1973.