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

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  • Chienfou

    Hello Craig

    You make two valid points:

    – that the islanders can have only annoyed the Argentinians with their referendum.
    – that there needs to be a negotiated agreement to resolve the dispute.

    What you don’t say is that before there can be any agreement, each side needs to acknowledge the other’s right to speak. If the Argentine government does react with annoyance to the referendum it will mark a break with its current policy of completely ignoring the islanders and seeking to deny them any opportunity to speak.

    Your suggestion to “smother the Falklands with love” is clearly a sensible one. But the fact is the Argentine government has shown anything but love for the people in the Falklands. It behaves as if they do not exist and gives the impression it wishes that they did not. The reference to Diego Garcia is surely extremely relevant here.

    The referendum was a means for the islanders, with one voice, to shout “WE ARE HERE AND YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO US!”

    I hope Argentina does hear the voice of the Falkland Islanders and starts to listen to their views on their own future since that will be the first step towards the “smothering with love” that you suggest.
    If that happens it will have been triggered not by an act of stupidity but by a democratic referendum expressing the view of the people of the Falklands.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    HMS Conqueror fired a Tigerfish (cost £300,000) at ARA General Belgrano – it missed??

    Hence the decision to buy cruise at £1 million each (Huffington Post) to fire at ships.

    Cost of MK 24 Mod 2 Tigerfish development & production about £3.5 billion.

    Source: The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems, 1997-1998

  • doug scorgie

    Africom Pope
    14 Mar, 2013 – 4:12 pm

    “The vote was akin to asking West Bank [Jewish] settlers if they wanted to remain Israeli.”

    Very perceptive

  • Richard

    I don’t believe that anybody disputes that the Falklands should naturally have trade and communications links with the Americas – especially their closest neighbours, Argentina and Chile. The problem is that the Argentinian government is being infantile and irrational and it is difficult to offer rational responses to that. The referendum in the Falklands – pointless, certainly; stupid, as Craig would have it, perhaps – is just a reaction to that childishness.

    I am no historian, but surely (correct me if I’m wrong) there is no nation state or political entity between the North Pole and Tierra del Fuego which is not, in some way, shape or form, a by-product of European imperialism from previous centuries. That’s where these disputes should stay – in previous centuries. There are other border disputes between states on the South American mainland – at least one of which also involves Argentina – and they should be dropped and consigned to the scrap heap of history too. What is the point in continuing with them? Furthermore, there are still other European possessions in the Americas; British, French and Dutch, one of which, if I’m not mistaken is a French island (name escapes me) in the St. Lawrence spitting distance from the Canadian coast. But then the Canadians are a civilised and sensible bunch. The Argentinians are behaving like dicks. So I don’t even agree with Craig that Argentina should “keep trying”; Argentina should grow up.

    By the way, the stance of the U.S.A. is interesting. I can’t exactly remember what La Clinton said when she paid a visit to B.A. as Secretary of State, but I seem to recall that she sought to appeal to the football hooligan element of Argentinian society with regard to the Falklands issue – very clever! She (and now her successor) should be careful what she wishes for – she might get it. She has probably forgotten (if she was ever aware) that large parts of south-western U.S.A. were wrested from Mexico rather more recently than the Falklands were settled by Britain. The Mexicans haven’t. Like the French politician who liked Germany so much that he preferred it when there were two of them, Russia, China and other states could learn to live with their disappointment if the U.S.A. were dismembered and I suspect that anti-Gringo sentiment among the constituency to which Clinton sought to appeal will probably prove to have rather more long-term traction than hatred of an ever-weakening and increasingly less important Britain. Time will tell.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)
    14 Mar, 2013 – 7:56 pm

    “Sorry, everyone else has managed to keep on-topic, so what are two posts about the film “Argo” doing on this thread?”

    Then you say at 8:47pm:

    “I think that it’s worth recalling that far greater sums of money were spent by Labour governments subsidising much less worthy causes with much less ultimate effect. The examples that always spring to my mind are the vast sums spent by Labour govts. in the 1970s on motorcycle workers cooperatives and on car factories in the Midlands and the shipyards on the Clyde (also workers cooperatives in part, I think), but I’m sure there must be more recent examples as well. Just a thought.”

    Off topic or what?

  • The CE

    Usual tosh from The Scourge.

    You selectively quote Habba and omit his first sentence, making his comment entirely on topic.

    “On the argument that the referendum was a waste of money and that it’s an even greater waste of money to subsidise the Falkland islanders to the tune of £x thousands or millions a year,”

    Talk about clogging up the blog with pointless shite.

  • guano

    If Maggie was daft and reckless enough to fight for the Falklands, this Tory government is daft and reckless enough to fight the British people for demanding WAGES and BENEFITS as witnessed by the discussion last night on the Moral Maze. ‘Listen next week, said Burke, you will feel the benefit’. Its sounded to me like Orwell’s description of Down and Out in London etc enforced Sunday tea parties with moral Christian lectures from old ladies.

    Have these people ever had no money and no job that they think they can lecture us on moral inadequacy for being unemployed?
    I was gunning for the Argentinians to give Thatcher some stick during the Falklands War. Couldn’t we get Karimov to stitch up NATO by commandeering its military machine in transit through Uzbekistan? Are there no decent tyrants left anymore?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Good post, Craig. I especially liked the idea of the “attractive young Argentinian agents” engaging in “the darker arts”. Can you send some to Glasgow, please? Maybe an independent Scotland could ‘twin’ with Argentina… 🙂

  • Mary

    A scourge (from Latin excoriare = “to flay” and corium = “skin”) is a whip or lash, especially a multi-thong type used to inflict severe corporal punishment or self-mortification on the back.

    Cease using that nasty name. To the best of my knowledge and in my experience here, Doug Scorgie is a decent person.

  • Richard

    Ps. I notice that ‘AAMVN’ claims to still blame that “mad woman in blue”.

    For the Falklands dispute? Really? Ever heard of a bloke called Galtieri?

    There are plenty of things you can blame Thatcher for, the list is almost endless, but she isn’t alone among British politicians of any party for that. Excessive blaming of her over and above others of her ilk or blaming her for the Falklands situation is as irrational as the incessant belly-aching emanating from Buenos Aries.

    Some people have made allusions to the Chagos Islands. Well, that tale is a national disgrace without a doubt. Comparisons with the Falklands can certainly be used to point up hypocrisy in Westminster. But it has no direct bearing on the Falklands question itself which stands or falls on its own merits. Whatever recompense can be made to the Chagos Islanders should be made without delay (not that it will be, poor buggers), but adding Falklanders to the list of people done over by the British government won’t help them a jot.

  • guano


    Thanks for the link to Straw. Am I mistaken in thinking that there used to be a time when every dodgy world event had calmed down, that the Sunday newspapers would publish a full analysis of the politics, mistakes and consequences and everyone could move on, even the victims of war. Now there is no chance of closure for anyone. Nobody can ever admit to making mistakes or planning evil. Spineless individuals camouflaged by state lies. Or was I just less cynical before? Rhetorical question.

    Have you put down slug bait round your lettuces yet? Sprinkle a few hasbara pellets round the seedlings now. I know the poison might get into the salad, but you can’t let them get away with chewing through the stalks. Watching them die blowing bubbles isn’t nice either. But you can’t wait up all night to pick them off by hand one by one. Why not get Craig to teach you some of the dark, diplomatic arts? Offer them alternative posts/plants to feed on and while they’re busy munching, knock them into a bucket and put them in a plastic bag?

  • Mary

    We have to admire this 88 year old man for standing up for his right to protest and not to be criminalized for wearing an anti war T-shirt and for protesting outside EDO in Brighton. His name and details went on to5 an extremist database.

    Well done Mr Catt.

    The BBC omit the history on EDO where the protests were held.

    Regular anti-war protests outside EDO (UK) factory

    On 21 September 2006, protesters blockaded the EDO MBM factory in Brighton for several hours forcing the Managing Director Paul Hills to scale a security fence to enter the premises. He then used an angle grinder or wire cutters to cut a hole in the EDO’s fence to let the employees in to work. The protesters left the scene without being arrested.[30] On 16 September 2006, 100 protesters marched through Brighton to deliver a petition calling for the closure of EDO MBM to Brighton Town Hall.[31] On 23 August 2006 two protesters climbed 40 feet onto the roof of EDO MBM Technology Ltd to unfurl a banner protesting the company’s supply of weapons to Israel used in the Qana bombing in which 16 Lebanese children were killed.[32] On 19 July 2006 protesters staged a ‘Horrors of War’ demonstration outside the Brighton factory recreating scenes of violence and mutilation that result from aerial bombardment.[33] On the morning of 17 July 2006, three activists completely blockaded EDO’s Brighton, United Kingdom subsidiary EDO MBM Technology Ltd in protest at EDO’s supply of weapons technology to the Israeli military being used to attack Gaza and in the then ongoing 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.[34][35] These are just a few actions in an ongoing campaign of protest, civil disobedience and non-violent direct action against EDO in Brighton that began in 2004 and has come to be known as the Smash EDO campaign.[36] There has been at least one demonstration a week outside the factory since 2004, and the number of protests against the EDO MBM since 2004 now numbers in the hundreds.

    Smash EDO campaign

    There have been numerous protests and direct actions since 2004 voicing the opinion that EDO MBM should close or convert its factory to civilian use. In January 2009, during the Gaza war, activists raided EDO’s factory in Moulsecombe and destroyed equipment. In 2010, a jury found the activists, who invoked the lawful excuse defence, according to which it can be lawful to commit an offence to prevent a more serious crime, not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage to the factory. Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chair of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, claimed the judge had “behaved more like the defence counsel than the neutral officer of the court that he was supposed to be. The role of a judge – far from advancing his own political agenda – is to clarify points of law to the lay members of the jury…”

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Richard : the French territory in the St Lawrence seaway (Canada) which you mentioned is Saint Pierre et Miquelon.

  • The CE

    Yes Mary, how entirely decent to selectively quote someone in order to issue them with a false charge.

    I’m afraid your somewhat dubious character reference is not backed up by the evidence at hand.

  • Herbie

    Thanks for that, Mary.

    Seems like a very significant interview, when compared with other interviews of members of the Blair regime.

    I wonder why he’s subjecting himself to such a probing interview. Is it just the ongoing case, or are there fissures developing amongst our former dear leaders.

    It was said of Jack, “Were he to fall under a bus and die, I’d first ask myself, what strategic advantage he found in doing that.”

    Jack has an impressive history in the Labour party, going way way back beyond any other of the main Blair regime, so people quite rightly remarked upon his capacity for survival through so many different leaderships, even up to and including the neocon non-Labour leadership of Tony Blair.

    It really is an amazing achievement.

    But is there now some price to pay.

  • BrianFujisan

    Thanks for the Straw man interview Mary.

    Great to see it Squirm Makes a change from the usually Polished deceptions of the rest of the war criminals, they ( war criminals ) include the present multi millionaire in No 10

  • lwtc247

    Craig. Your ‘shower fo love’ suffers from one simple yet major flaw. It per-assumes the strategy will work, but there is no sign that it will. What’s likely to happen is the occupiers of the Malvinas will just sponge off the Argentinian state as they already do of Britain.

    The language ‘barrier’ alone – with English being such a strong cultural identity in itself – shows it likely that, like Gibraltar, the Brits there will likely never integrate with Argentina.

    And trying to seduce the occupiers so that Argentinian blood becomes established on the Island (If I read you correctly) is unlikely to succeed as the ‘hybrids’ will simply be brought up in a ‘no Argentine’ kind of way.

    I don’t think the claims by Argentina on the Malvinas are ridiculous.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Brian @ 12:06

    I feel confident ‘Francis’ will be linked to CANAL, and maybe even Romero’s assassination.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    I was repelled twice when trying to watch Jack Straw being interviewed. The same thing happens if I try to watch Blair. Each time I am presented with another cardinal image of torment and suffering.

    A picture of so much pain and misery I have to turn away.

    It is aberrant, strange and troubling.

  • Jives

    Very sad to see the continued psychological bullying/torture here of a certain poster=Mary.

    Shameful by the perpetrators.

    I guess torture-physical or psychological-seems to have such currency norms in our world.

    Well of course,Straw and Blair are guilyt of monstrous war crimes.Complicit in torture/rendition-and proven to have been.

    @ Habbabkuk:

    Have you no shame charlatan?You are an sinister embarrassment here.

    You’re like the elderly schoolmaster,long past their prime and imagined authority and all the wiser folks,in your dotage,who pretend to humour you yet as they all know-and are too polite to mention-you’ve lost your marbles years back.

    Sad really.

  • Jives

    Really awful when people like Habbakuk move beyond trolling into the dark realms of State sanctioned bullying and psychological torture.

    Let’s not delude ourselves here.

    This is exactly their game.

    Extremely distressing to have to witness and extremely worrying.

    Habbakuk,what you’re doing is extremely sinister.

    I decry it.

  • Jives

    @ Mark Golding,

    Yes Mark you’re spot on as usual.

    It’s extremely strange and troubling.

  • Jives


    As a reader and contributor on this blog for 10 years now i echo your sentiments wholeheartedly.

    Habbabkuk is a nasty,sinister and disruptive poster.

  • crab

    That boxer was lucky his twitter troll bottled out, what was he going to do beat him up? Compensation and ruin would follow.

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