The Falklanders Have the Right to be Stupid 128


When there is a 99.8% vote for something, either it isn’t a democracy or it is a very stupid question. Nobody has ever disputed that the majority of the Falkland Islanders wish to remain British. The point of the referendum was simply to annoy and upset Argentina, and that is very stupid indeed.

You cannot escape geography. The trade and communication links of the Falklands should naturally be with Latin America, not with another small island half the world away. Given that Latin America is undergoing an economic, cultural and political resurgence that is truly exciting, while the UK is in an accelerating spiral of decline, that should be a good thing. Unless you are very stupid.

David Cameron is fond of citing individual cases of families in the UK whose benefits cost the British taxpayer over £30,000 per year. But each and every family in the Falkland Islands costs the British taxpayer ten times that – something which Cameron does not detail.

But the first expenditure is motivated by compassion, which enjoys precious little political and media support. The second expenditure is driven by militarism and jingoism, which can never be questioned and enjoy unlimited political and media support.

Britain’s ability to sustain the Falklands will not last forever, not least militarily. With expenditure cuts and every last penny of discretionary expenditure going into the black hole marked “Trident”, Britain would be hard pushed to re-invade the Isle of Man, let alone the Falklands. The inability of the islanders to read the writing on the wall is astonishing. They have all the long term vision of that other island race, the dodo.

But they do have the right to be stupid. Attachment to the rule of international law is central to my belief on how the world should be run, and I am obliged to say that, in international law, Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands is a nonsense. The Argentinians are not the indigenous inhabitants of the islands, nor does the Argentine government represent the indigenous population of the Falklands. The large majority of Argentinians are not even the indigenous population of Argentina. They are simply a rival bunch of colonialists, very many of British descent.

Like Diego Garcia, which should and must be returned to its native population, any genuine indigenous population would have the right to the islands in international law under decolonisation. But there is not one. A rival and defeated colonial occupier does not have the claims of an indigenous population. There is no important rival here to the principle of self-determination in the legal argument.

The Falklanders do have the right to be stupid. The refendum is a prime example of how to be stupid, as it is the opposite of the link-building and cooperation that needs to be done. The potential oil fields have been greatly exaggerated, but what oil there is lies under deep water and is already very difficult; potential conflict blights the possibilities for investment completely. Cooperation is in everybody’s interest.

Were I the Argentinian government, I would smother the Falklands with love. I would completely open all air links and sea routes. I would initiate a regular free postal service to forward on mail through Argentina. I would provide an air ambulance service on permanent standby to whip very serious cases from the Falklands to the mainland for free treatment. I would organise a regular supply ship of subsidised goods and food. I would provide free university scholarships to all Falklanders. I would give a large government subsidy to any company in Argentina which employs a Falklander.

I would also work hard on the darker diplomatic arts. I would identify a couple of Falkland Island councillors and put ten million dollars each into numbered Swiss accounts for them, on condition that they facilitate the provision of the free air ambulance service (which is easy to reconcile the conscience to, and an easy way to start). I would put attractive young Argentinian agents into the path of Falklanders, any Falklanders, at every opportunity.

I appreciate that all Argentinian offers would suffer inital rebuff. But Argentina should keep trying. Switch off the rhetoric, and turn up the love. Geography and economic trends are with the Argentines here. The Falklanders do have the right to choose. Argentina’s task is to change their minds.


128 thoughts on “The Falklanders Have the Right to be Stupid

1 2 3 5
  • Charles Edward Frith (@charlesfrith)

    My beef is that when it comes to Diego Garcia the British cleared the Island for use by the US military and shot all their dogs. People who think the elites are going to share any Falklands’ oil finds with the population are fluoridated and sheep dipped.

    Great headline. Very witty given it’s recent usage elsewhere.

  • John Goss

    I wrote about this in January and updated it for the referendum, making similar points to what Craig Murray so aptly makes in his blog. My main gripe though is why the UK taxpayer is not asked an opinion on why £92,000 of taxpayers’ money is wasted in “protecting” each Falkland Island family.

    http://newsjunkiepost.com/2013/01/05/las-malvinas-or-the-falkland-islands-the-ugly-face-of-british-imperialism-and-its-startling-cost/

    And the Chagos Islanders from Diego Garcia dumped by the UK military with one suitcase penniless on the quayside of Mauritius demonstrates what concern the UK has for native island families. The Falklands are just a strategic military base perpetuating neo-colonilist ambitions. Macmillan’s ‘winds of change’ speech might just as well never have taken place. We’re back to the old ways.

  • John Goss

    I meant to add what a good post it was, since it not only outlines the problem, but gives practical advice on how to resolve the issue. Thanks

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Craig :

    I must say that when I started reading your piece I thought “oh, oh, oh dear…!) and could feel my combative sap starting to rise but am happy to admit after reading it to the end – and re-reading it – that it’s rational, well balanced and positive in intention. It has the further merit of starting off from the here-and-now and avoiding the all too common tendency when this question is raised of focussing on fruitless topics such as who was to “blame” for the Falkland’s war. The conclusion in your two last sentences is spot on in terms of indicating the way forward. Let us hope that matters develop in the way you envisage.

    I would just quibbble slightly about characterising the referendum as stupid; I should rather see it as understandable in terms of providing a relatively non-belligerent counter-move to the recent ratcheting-up of the issue from the Argentine side. But this is a minor quibble.

    Thanks again!

  • Geoff

    Brilliant article.
    Thanks for showing that a discussion about the Falklands can be nuanced and insightful, and not just a dogmatic slanging match of “Argies go home” versus “Down with evil British empire”

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    John Goss says :

    “My main gripe though is why the UK taxpayer is not asked an opinion on why £92,000 of taxpayers’ money is wasted in “protecting” each Falkland Island family.”

    If for the sake of argument we admit for a moment that this is a valid gripe, how would you suggest that this should have been done in practice?

    *********

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • November

    I remember Saddam winning elections with 99.9 percent of the Iraqi votes. Falklands population ought to have been Iraqis evidently. This dog and pony show to annoy the Argies, did not come free, whilst the folks in “mainland UK” are paying “bedroom Tax” (probably next it will be sex tax that is introduced to pay for the excesses of the banksters and the coalition “carry on government”).

    However harking back to the days of the invasion and borrowing a phrase: “Bennies”, these will always remain Bennies.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ November :

    “I remember Saddam winning elections with 99.9 percent of the Iraqi votes”

    Your point is?

    ***********

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Sandman

    Not sure it’s a good idea to be suggesting corruption of British Overseas Territories citizens – it’s probably illegal under the Bribery Act, but you’re right as to generally what Argentina has to do if it ultimately wants the Falklanders to accept it.

    I was thinking about this myself. It seems to me that the Falklands have a major problem with two elements – (1) they are unable to develop due to lack of population growth; and (2) they are cautious of increased immigration as it could marginalise the existing Falklanders and lead to an Argentinian takeover.
    A secondary problem, which is also a problem for the UK, is the frosty relationship with its closest neighbour which is very costly in terms of military spending and inhibiting trade.

    They either have to bite the bullet and hope that the attractions of a common law system and a special constitutional status will keep immigrants loyal and open the borders to some extent.

    Another, “clever”, idea is to split the Falklands into East and West Falkand (very easy to do), with West Falkland being governed as a sub-territory of East Falkland. They could then open up West Falkland (current population 200) to immigration and build up what they need for oil infrastructure. If West Falkland decides to go Argentinian it is no big deal – everybody would be much wealthier and it would have a more viable community – the East Falklanders could maintain their anglo culture, with a more latin culture on West Falkland. Territories that have free trade with each other rarely bother going to war.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    I agree with Craig’s point – “The point of the referendum was simply to annoy and upset Argentina, and that is very stupid indeed.”

    It is NOT understandable to play chess with people’s lives i.e. the Falkland islanders. To say otherwise indicates a complete lack of moral fortitude.

  • November

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!),

    I am sorry to have given the wrong impression that I may give a fuck about what a ziofuckwit thinks, in fact I don’t.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Simply brilliant headline, followed by a brilliant article. I love the ‘smother with love’ idea. I’ve often thought the US should have done the same with Vietnam. If only they had given every village and hamlet a free scholarship or two for their kids to go and study in the US…They could have won the hearts and minds and it would have cost peanuts compared to the cost of the war.

  • Wikispooks

    Ah yes ‘The black arts’ – British foreign policy praxis in a nutshell. I’ve often wondered weather successful completion of a course or two on Machiavelli were obligatory for FCO advancement to ambassador level and beyond. An ethos where humanitarian considerations are of interest only to the extent they are either an asset or an obstacle, unrelated (almost by definition) to major policy goals.

    The Falklands population have the good fortune to be in the former category; the Chagossians the misfortune to be in the latter. It really is that simple.

    When I first heard the actual result, my first thought was that it was eerily reminicent of Hitler’s 1938 Anschluss referendum – 98%+ said YES!!! with scenes of wild jingoistic jubilation in both countries. Hmmmm – That didn’t end too well did it?

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    I said yesterday that it was a ‘farce’:

    “The man who said ‘No’. Well there were three of them actually. ‘Get them off these islands immediately’.
    Result: Of 1,517 votes cast in the two-day referendum – on a turnout of more than 90% – 1,513 were in favour, while just three votes were against.
    What a farce.”

    Somebody who shall be nameless took me to task as is his/her wont:

    “Can you indicate why you think the referendum was a farce?
    Can you assure us that had there not been a referendum, you would not have critised the government for not holding one?
    Thank you”

    Now that somebody seems to agree with Craig.

    “@ Craig :

    I must say that when I started reading your piece I thought “oh, oh, oh dear…!) and could feel my combative sap starting to rise but am happy to admit after reading it to the end – and re-reading it – that it’s rational, well balanced and positive in intention. It has the further merit of starting off from the here-and-now and avoiding the all too common tendency when this question is raised of focussing on fruitless topics such as who was to “blame” for the Falkland’s war.

    The conclusion in your two last sentences is spot on in terms of indicating the way forward. Let us hope that matters develop in the way you envisage.
    I would just quibbble slightly about characterising the referendum as stupid; I should rather see it as understandable in terms of providing a relatively non-belligerent counter-move to the recent ratcheting-up of the issue from the Argentine side. But this is a minor quibble.
    Thanks again!”

    Very much like the winds earlier this week. Veering on all points of the compass from due North to South South East!

    Lovely admission there of possession of combative sap. No comment.

  • Jemand - Evolutionary Religion 101

    Mary, you have complained about Habbabkuk’s hounding of you yet, on at least two threads including this one, you have pre-emptively attacked him thereby attracting his attention. Is this the arcane, somewhat bizzare mating courtship that Sir David Attenborough is famous for meticulously documenting in exotic animals?

    What say you, Habbabkuk? A gentleman is required to make his true intentions known.

  • Mary - for Truth and Justice

    No.:) The saints preserve me. Just giving as good as I have received and some getting of one’s own back. LOL

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    An interesting piece of 1841 Falklands history is the failure of the British Government to accept the offer of General Rosas to relinquish any Argentine territorial claims in return for relief of debts owed to now defunct Barings Bank in the City of London.

    The British Government chose to ignore the offer.

    Ironically Nick Leeson’s forgery was Baring’s bank demise – once again leaving N M Rothschild & Sons to dominate and control our lives…

    Which to me coins a phrase – Wearing a ‘Leeson Jacket’ – is a precursor to monetary collapse. An inevitable conclusion.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    @Jemand – Evolutionary Religion 101

    ‘Is this the arcane, somewhat bizarre mating courtship…’

    Yes, I must admit, I’ve wondering for a while now whether Mary and Habbabkuk were actually the same person posting under different pseudonyms….

    Ah just kidding, Mary! just kidding 🙂

  • Tom Welsh

    “The trade and communication links of the Falklands should naturally be with Latin America, not with another small island half the world away.”

    Actually it’s only one-third of the way round the world. But it is every inch of that.

    “I am obliged to say that, in international law, Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands is a nonsense. The Argentinians are not the indigenous inhabitants of the islands, nor does the Argentine government represent the indigenous population of the Falklands. The large majority of Argentinians are not even the indigenous population of Argentina.”

    I am obliged to say that, if those are its criteria (and I have no doubt that you are right about the matter) international law is nonsense. By those criteria – as every intelligent person should immediately notice – the USA does not belong to those of its present inhabitants who are of European descent. They are not the indigenous inhabitants of North America, nor does their government represent the indigenous population of the USA. So what?

    More radically, the very idea of an indigenous population is intrinsically meaningless. When examined closely, it evaporates. From the dawn of prehistory, human beings have been looking for a better place to live, and (until the last few years) cheerfully exterminating or enslaving the previous occupants in the process. Who are the “indigenous inhabitants” of Britain, pray?

  • resident dissident

    I agree, try to take the nationalism out of it and give economic and geographic logic the opportunity to work. However, I suspect that given recent history and the tendency of both UK and Argentinian governments to resort to flag waving nationalism when they are in economic difficulties it may be a very long haul. If Galtieri hadn’t been so daft to invade my guess is that all the dual sovereignty thinking that was going on before would have probably already come to fruition.

  • Africom Pope

    The vote was akin to asking West Bank settlers if they wanted to remain Israeli. I notice how the UK always says it’s not about the oil because the only beneficiaries will be the Islanders who do not pay tax to the UK. There are hundreds of billions in potential tax revenue, is this seriously just going to be hoarded by a couple of thousand islanders? Which begs the question of why impoverished UK tax payers should be expected to provide and pay for the armed forces that are permanently based there to protect the interests of the oil companies and a couple of thousand would be multi-millionaires.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ November (13h15) :

    “Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!),

    I am sorry to have given the wrong impression that I may give a fuck about what a ziofuckwit thinks, in fact I don’t.”

    Thank you for that polite and informative answer to a perfectly reasonable question.

    **********

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Herbie

    “why impoverished UK tax payers should be expected to provide and pay for the armed forces that are permanently based there to protect the interests of the oil companies and a couple of thousand would be multi-millionaires.”

    Yes. That’s the trick. UK taxpayers fund corporate interests, as do US taxpayers too of course.

    Dress it up with a bit of nationalism, exceptualism, “too big to fail” and “our boys” and “heroes” and other media mumbo jumbo and your pockets will have been picked while you were looking elsewhere.

    Bravo!

    Never before has so much been given. by so many, to so few.

    It’s left to whistleblowers and alternative media to break the illusionist’s hold.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Wikispooks (14h00) :

    “When I first heard the actual result, my first thought was that it was eerily reminicent of Hitler’s 1938 Anschluss referendum – 98%+ said YES!!! with scenes of wild jingoistic jubilation in both countries. Hmmmm – That didn’t end too well did it?”

    At first reading, the above is an impressive, even apocalytic statement.

    At a second reading, I fear that one is less impressed,, but I’m willing to be re-impressed. Could you help me in this ambition by telling us how, apart from the percentages you mention, you see the two instances as being similar and to what extent you consider that the 1938 referendum might provide lessons for future developments in the Falklands region?

    Thank you.

    ***********

    La vita è bella, life is good!)

1 2 3 5

Comments are closed.