Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said it is “absurd” for the British government, which has enjoyed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands for 180 years, to maintain its claim from an ocean away, “when these islands are part of our maritime platform.” Applying the logic of Ms. Kirchner, Canada should be stoking international tensions in an effort to annex Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. And perhaps Greenland.
Argentina has behaved shamefully over the Falklands. Thirty years ago, its dictator, who until that point had specialized in brutalizing his own people, launched an invasion that killed and maimed many. The occupation of the Falklands ended with Argentina’s humiliation at the hands of the British military. That defeat, in turn, helped to end the dictatorship. You would think about the last thing any Argentine president would want to do is evoke such memories. You would think Argentina, with its high inflation and other economic challenges, would focus its national will elsewhere.
Instead, it increasingly appears that the country, having pulled itself bloodied up off the mat once, is again picking for a fight. Ms. Kirchner has indicated warfare is not an option, and she would be wise not to repeat the adventurism of the former military regime. Britain has just dispatched HMS Dauntless, a state of the art warship that experts say has the capacity by itself to take out Argentina’s air force. So instead, Ms. Kirchner is determined to expend her country’s resources stirring up diplomatic trouble over the Falklands.
Ms. Kirchner has managed to provoke a riot outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires to ratchet up pressure, and is working to sever all transportation and trade links to the Falklands, apparently some sort of twisted charm offensive intended to win the love of the Falkland Islanders.
She also intends to use this weekend’s meeting of hemispheric leaders to pursue her forlorn agenda. She’s been conducting a hallelujah chorus that includes former Cuban strongman Fidel Castro, who knows a good dictatorial crusade when he sees one, leftish actor Sean Penn (Shanghai Surprise, etc.) and former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters (we always preferred David Gilmour, anyway).
Her efforts, of course, will be insufficient to wrest the Falklands from the hands of the 1,800 hardy Falkland Islanders, diehard Brits all, with whom the islands’ future ultimately must rest. You cannot “give back” the Falklands without their consent, and since Argentina really has such a tenuous claim anyway, after 180 years, it is all just a bit of a sideshow.
Ms. Kirchner needs to get a grip.