President Obama was effusive in his praise for the Special Relationship when he visited London recently, but his administration continues to slap Britain in the face over the highly sensitive Falklands issue. Washington signed on to a “draft declaration on the question of the Malvinas Islands” passed by unanimous consent by the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) at its meeting in San Salvador yesterday, an issue which had been heavily pushed by Argentina. In doing so, the United States sided not only with Buenos Aires, but also with a number of anti-American regimes including Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua.
The declaration calls for Argentina and Great Britain to enter into negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, a position which London has long viewed as completely unacceptable. It also comes in the wake of increasing aggression by the Kirchner regime in the past 18 months, including threats to blockade British shipping in the South Atlantic.
The OAS declaration, adopted at the fourth plenary session on June 7, states:
It has not yet been possible to resume the negotiations between the two countries with a view to solving the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas in the framework of resolutions 2065 (XX), 3160 (XXVIII), 31/49, 37/9, 38/12, 39/6, 40/21, 41/40, 42/19 and 43/25 of the United Nations General Assembly, the decisions adopted by the same body on the same question in the Special Committee on Decolonization, and the reiterated resolutions and declarations adopted at this General Assembly; and
HAVING HEARD the presentation by the head of delegation of the Argentine Republic,
WELCOMES the reaffirmation of the will of the Argentine Government to continue exploring all possible avenues towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute and its constructive approach towards the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands.
REAFFIRMS the need for the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations on the sovereignty dispute, in order to find a peaceful solution to this protracted controversy.
DECIDES to continue to examine the Question of the Malvinas Islands at its subsequent sessions until a definitive settlement has been reached thereon.
Washington backed a similar resolution in June last year, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear in a joint press conference with Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires in March 2010 that the Obama administration fully backs Argentina’s calls for negotiations over the Falkands, handing her Argentine counterpart a significant propaganda coup. The State Department has also insultingly referred to the Islands in the past as the Malvinas, the Argentine name for them.
It is hugely disappointing that the Obama administration has chosen once again to side not only with the increasingly authoritarian regime in Argentina, but also with an array of despots in Latin America against British interests. Mrs Clinton should be reminded that 255 brave British servicemen laid down their lives in 1982 for the freedom of the Falkland Islanders, who are overwhelmingly British, following the brutal Argentine invasion.
The sovereignty of the Islands is not a matter for negotiation, and Britain will never give in to threats from Argentina or its tyrannical allies in places such as Venezuela. The White House recently declared that Britain remains America’s most important ally. Now it should live up to its words by supporting Washington’s closest friend and partner on matters of vital British interest, including the future of British subjects living in the South Atlantic, whose only wish is to remain free under the protection of the Union Jack.
As Margaret Thatcher famously reminded the world, in an address to the House of Commons after the Argentine invasion in April 1982, the Falklands are, and always will remain British:
The people of the Falkland Islands, like the people of the United Kingdom, are an island race. Their way of life is British; their allegiance is to the Crown. They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance. It is the wish of the British people and the duty of Her Majesty’s Government to do everything that we can to uphold that right. That will be our hope and our Endeavour and, I believe, the resolve of every Member of the House.