Yesterday, in the British Parliament, Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, dealt with the possibility of a third Argentine attempt to take the Falkland Islands by force. During discussions on defence cuts, Mr Howarth insisted, that as far as any threat was posed by Argentina, then the British military deterrent was likely to be effective.
“You raise concerns which are widespread around the country, particularly in light of the sabre-rattling by Argentina. But I think it is very important that you understand that ministers are very seized of this matter. All the advice we have is that there is neither the capability nor the intention by the Argentines to repeat the folly of 1982 and that the military deterrent that we have is up to the task.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has recently raised the issue with the country’s National Security Council and has assured the British people that the Islanders’ rights to decide their own future were protected. He had also accused Argentina of indulging in a form of colonialism, which Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner attempted to laugh off this week, claiming that Britain had no argument in the 179 year sovereignty dispute by the South American country.
Argentina bases its claim on a supposed inheritance from Spain following its declaration of independence in 1816; rights gained by its own people during the 1820’s and geography. The latter has long been dismissed by international law with regard to sovereignty claims and the first is unsupportable in light of Spain’s own claim lasting till 1863. It appears unlikely that Argentina did enough during the 1820’s to overcome Britain’s pre-existing claim which dates back to 1690.
Argentina sent an armed force to take the Falkland islands in 1832, and again in 1982. On both occasions British forces drove them away.