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2/2/12

The Falklands/Malvinas: Preston's solid observations

In his column today, Peter Preston of the Guardian (long-time columnist and was also the paper's editor for 20 years, so dismiss his views as lightweight at your own peril) does a novel thing for a Brit and writes sensibly about the Falkland Islands/Las Islas Malvinas, making along the way a couple of fairly obvious points (to those that can eschew jingoism, at least). Firstly, Preston notes that if Argentina plays its diplomatic cards right, particularly with Chile, the islands will be all-but cut off from the world. That's true (indeed, we've already made that connection here) and on this point it's worth noting that so far, since getting the issue back on the international agenda, Argentina has indeed been playing its cards right.

Secondly, Preston addresses the "oil question" about the Falklands/Malvinas. A lot has been made of the exploration for oil in the seas around the islands, with the British lumpen-argument that goes along the lines of 'We can't let any more of the small brown people get their hands on the money now, can we?' But apart from the fact that nothing economic by way of an oil field has been found yet (and the exploration is only being taken seriously by small O&G companies who are further out on the risk exposure tables, not the BPs or Exxons or Shells or Chevrons of this world) even if an oil field worth tapping is found, Preston points out the obvious:
"For where do you sell that oil? Where do you bring it ashore? How do you unlock a potential future that axiomatically excludes Argentina?"
That's spot on, showing that the whole "economic" argument for Britain's continued tenure of the Falklands/Malvinas is just one big fat canard. Behind the political bluster and flag-wrapping (and timely visits by heirs to thrones) there's really not much Britain can point to for its case, bar of course the opinion of the 3,000 people who live there. Which brings up the only logical solution to the whole issue of the islands and the very same one promoted by the British government just a couple of years before the idiots running Argentina at the time decided that a war would be great for their cause: The leaseback. One of these fine days, the option of maintaining British nationality and government for the people of the islands while allowing geography to finally make a bit of sense and making the land part of the South America will have to be debated. As Preston writes, it's only a question of sooner or later and the answer to that is in the hands of the British government.