Hands off Falklands oil is no final answer

Hillary Clinton’s intervention may be welcome in Northern Ireland but not over Falklands oil, it seems. The world’s busiest shuttle diplomat has been politely rebuffed by the foreign secretary she once called
“vibrant.” No government on the brink of an election can afford to resist the pull of jingoism. That applies in London just as much as Buenos Aires. I was disappointed with the globally minded Economist. I thought it would come up with a common sense oil-sharing solution. Instead it explained that the latest Evita to hold power in succession to her husband has been banging the patriotic drum to divert attention from a familiar story of economic mismanagement. Just like the junta when I was in Argentina for the Falklands war. This time there’ll be no invasion but I wouldn’t bank on Britain winning a diplomatic victory without some kind of compromise this time.

  • Why should the UK share the oil with Argentina?

  • joeCanuck


  • It wouldn´t be Realpolitik for any UK Govt. that wanted to win the next election.

  • joeCanuck

    They should share the wealth in some way. Agree to have Argentina provide services, processing etc.
    If the geologists are right there is more oil there than what was in the North Sea.

  • Recent history would make such agreements difficult to arrive at in so far as they would be acceptable to the Argentine & UK public. Its not as if we are talking about friendly nations such Norway & UK dividing up the North Sea. But even apart from that, I don´t see why the UK should share the wealth. It is broke.

  • joeCanuck

    Conservative Party HQ. Out steps a tory grandee to find a beggar with a sign saying “Falklands war veteran. He has no legs and is also missing an arm and an eye. This is disgraceful says the grandee. Pulls out his wallet and gives the beggar a 100 quid. The beggar says “Gratias Senor”.

  • Alias

    [i]He stressed that “self-determination of Islanders is the key issue” and emphasised that Britain and Argentina have a strong ongoing working relationship.

    Mr Miliband told MPs at Commons question time: “The government has made it clear it has no doubt about the UK’s sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

    “There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Falkland Islanders so wish it and they have made clear they have no such wish.” [/i]

    Hmmm… plant a bunch of British folk on a foreign island and then claim that they have a right to self-determination (never mind that they are not an indigenous or distinct nation) and then say that this demands that you hold sovereignty over said foreign island… not to protect your national interests, of course, but simply to protect this bogus right to self-determination. Sounds familiar.

  • Dec

    Why should the UK share the oil with Argentina?

    Look at a map.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    The Argentine claim on the Falklands/Malvinas is surprisingly good.
    Theres a certain irony that the only reason the British could not deal with Argentina before the War was that Argentina was a military junta.
    Had Argentina been the democracy that it now is, the British would have happily dealt with it.
    The War has given 2,200 people on the Falklands/Malvinas a veto on any kinda normalisation.
    The British exploiting oil on the coninental shelf of South America is not going to endear it to any nation in South America, all of whom support Argentinas claim.
    The Falklands/Malvinas islanders are rubbing their hands that it is “Falklands Oil”…..not even the Shetland Islanders believed that.
    The notion that Britain can spend vast sums of money on Falklands/Malvinas, Ascension, Saint Helena or Tristan da Cunha is risible.

    Not that Britain can afford another war……although people who actually believe in something called the Commonwealth might think that warring with the “Argies” is actually a better war than the one in Helmond.

  • Mr E Mann

    > the latest Evita to hold power in succession
    >to her husband

    actually, I hear he and Tony have not been getting along so well recently …

  • Well, actually, no.

    The Economist piece nailed a couple of uncomfortable truths (as Brian Walker explicitly recognises) about La Presidenta Fernandez de Kirchner (and her equally slithery husband-consort). She is not, even in internal politics, dealing with a straight deck.

    The other point, as I recall in the final paragraph of that piece, was a devout wish that an oil-based prosperity delivers the Falklands to independence. I doubt that any UK government would resist. Then the tables would be turned: the Argentinians would again be the aggressor, threatening a small, viable, independent state.

    Now, like it or not, the Anglophone occupants of the Falklands did not displace an indigenous population (as did the Spanish and Portuguese across South America). They’ve been there for a couple of hundred years, coaling ships and shearing sheep. One would need to be unhinged to live in that climate anyway, but a small group of emigrés did and do. Good luck to them. Don’t ask me to adapt to a climate which makes Castlerock in a mid-February Atlantic gale look blissful.

  • Dec, nr. 8
    Re. looking at a map – by the same token, perhaps our oil-rich Arab friends should consider sharing some of their wealth with Israel.
    ….Cue anti-Zionist ranting from some of those here who are apt to that sort of thing….

    Alias nr. 7 – Why does it all have to come back to our delightful little island? It never was and never will be the centre of the universe.

  • Turgon

    The Falklands War itself is of course interesting for a number of reasons which are often forgotten in the more well remembered bits. A few rarely mentioned issues:

    Michael Foot backed Thatcher in sending the Task Force

    The Tories had decided to pension off the Antarctic survey ship (the Endurance) and the remaining aircraft carriers as part of a defence review. The Endurance decision was taken by the Argentinians as a sign that the British would not be willing to fight over the islands.

    Thatcher and the cabinet were apparently utterly depressed at an initial meeting thinking the islands could not be retaken. Then one of the admirals (who were very annoyed re the defence cuts) suggested it could be done.

    Jim Callaghan faced a possible invasion in 1977 and responded by quietly sending a couple of surface ships and a nuclear attack submarine to the area which frightened the generals off. The Argentines had no effective anti submarine warfare equipment and hence, could have done nothing about the British submarine had it been ordered to start sinking invasion ships. This was of course demonstrated in the Belgrano’s sinking during the war itself.

    I know it is rewriting history but had the Royal Navy been bought the carriers which were planned in the 1960s the Falklands War would probably never have happened as the Argentinians would have known it would have been hopeless. Then had there been no war Thatcher might well have lost the 1983 election. Alternatively had the islands been invaded in 1977 and Callaghan been the one in charge, Thatcher might well never have beaten him in 1979.

    Funny how Thatcher’s decision to downgrade the navy indirectly helped lead to her triumph and re election.

  • Hibernicle

    I wonder if the countries that make up the southern cone of South America or any other combination of the countries in the region could not come together and decide between themselves how to share the natural resources of the South Atlantic. This would of course involve telling Blighty to hop it.

  • Hibernicle @ 10:50 PM:

    Simplistic and inaccurate.

    The whole thesis of The Economist article, referred to in the headline piece, is that Blighty would dearly love to “hop it”. That was true before the Junta invaded, and little has changed.

    Even if oil is found, and extracted, in abundance, there’s no direct advantage to the British Treasury: the oil companies have ways of avoiding taxation.

    France, Spain and Britain (even Ireland, through Patrick Lynch) have arguable claims to have “occupied” the Falklands, or various bits of them. The United States, in 1831, blasted any hope of the Argentinians establishing a continuous occupation.

    So, three falls, submissions or a knock-out: that leaves the British in sole possession for the better part of two centuries. We were talking then and now about bare rock with machair in between.

    For most of that interim, the Argentinians came visiting to spear the seals, while the Falklanders either shovelled coal for the British Navy or reared sheep.

    The result is every — every — Falklander feels he/she has British ties.

    Any analogies with Ireland are totally fallacious, totally exposing an extremist and bloody-minded bigotry.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    and the Argentinians thru Admiral William Brown.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    “I thought it would come up with a common sense oil-sharing solution.”
    Yet again Brian Walker talks complete and utter tosh. Britain would be extremely foolish to give anything to the Argentinians.

  • lamhdearg

    share the cost (and danger) of getting it out and share the profit, clinton wants her/their share, i wish they would find oil/gold here,my old granda always said there was gold up black mountian (divis).

  • Hibernicle

    Malcolm Redfellow @ 11.29 in reply to Hibernicle said,”…Any analogies with Ireland are totally fallacious, totally exposing an extremist and bloody-minded bigotry.”

    In my post I didn’t mention Ireland at all!

  • lamhdearg

    Hibernicle, i think australia claims/owns most the the antartic the south americans would also have to tell them to hop it.

  • Alias

    The right to self-determination of the Falkland Islanders does not override the UK’s right to self-determination via its sovereign government. Therefore it is an invalid argument that is advanced by the British state to claim that it is bound to hold sovereignty over the Falkland Islands for as long as the people of the Falkland Island want it to.

    If the people of Falkland Islands want the UK to hold sovereignty then that is their prerogative. If the government of the UK does not want hold sovereignty then that is also its pejorative. The former does not in any way bind or override the latter. Ergo, the argument is entirely bogus.

  • Coll Ciotach

    as a side issue did anyone notice the backdrop to an interview with the president of Argentina? ‘Twas Admiral Brown – makes you proud – we are the grit in British vaseline everywhere

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joe canuck: “They should share the wealth in some way. Agree to have Argentina provide services, processing etc. If the geologists are right there is more oil there than what was in the North Sea. ”

    Of course, if they hadn’t rattled their sabres, Argentina, like as not, would have been providing at least some of those services out of simple geographic convenience.

    As for self-determination, the UK made a stand that they would not abandon the Falkland Islanders so long as they wished to remain in the the UK. Abandoning them / letting them twist in the wind would do nothing to burnish Gordo’s reputation as a leader, so simply kicking them out isn’t likely part of the short list of answers to this problem.

  • Skintown Lad

    Alias – you’re missing the point. The UK government is saying “we’d like to keep the Falklands but as a matter of being fair we will not hold them against the will of the people who live there”.

    Why do you think it is right that the people who actually live there should be ignored?

  • Framer

    The FO remains committed to looking after the interests of foreigners.

  • Garza

    Skintown, because self-determination is great unless it favours the Brits.

    Sure some Irish nationalists favoured the Nazis over the Brits during WW2, thats how deep their hatred goes.

  • Just a thought …

    Sean T. O’Ceallaigh and George Gavan Duffy’s Official Memorandum in support of Ireland’s demand for recognition as a sovereign independent state, submitted to the Versailles Peace Conference, June 1919.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Haha the “War for Small Nations”

  • Jimmy Sands

    Perhaps Milliband could offer to host sovereignty talks between the US and Mexico over California?

    In view of Clinton’s helpfulness it’s the very least he could do.