More Silly Season

22 Feb

On the back of exaggerated claims that the British Government had considered giving Argentina a naval base on the Falkland Islands in early 1982; comes a report in the Sun that the USA has announced that it will not recognise the referendum due to be held on the Islands in March. w266i4276

According to the Sun this ‘stab in the back’ by one of Britain’s oldest allies comes at an awkward time; “.. in a brutal snub, the US Government has said its neutrality over the islands’ sovereignty will not change — effectively branding the result irrelevant. The news has infuriated No 10, threatening to overshadow new US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first official visit to London on Monday to meet Foreign Secretary William Hague.  The Sun can reveal Mr Hague is expected to grill ex-US presidential candidate Mr Kerry on the White House’s position. “

America’s neutrality on this particular issue dates back to December, 1831 when an overly enthusiastic Commander of the USS Lexington arrested what he saw as a “nest of pirates” which had seized American ships at the Falkland islands. This resulted in a diplomatic incident between Buenos Aires and Washington that coloured relations for decades.

The source of that encounter was the rights that the USA claimed to fish in the archipelago’s waters. Rights the country claimed to have ‘inherited’ from its time as a British colony. Indeed that claim also caused a diplomatic incident between Britain and the USA when the Governor of the Falklands, in 1854, had two American vessels ‘arrested’ for illegal fishing.

So intent were the Americans to stay neutral over the sovereignty issue that when, in 1871, an arbitration panel was set up in Geneva to resolve all outstanding matters between Britain and the USA, the then President, Ulysses Grant, sat on the paperwork from 1854 to prevent its consideration in Geneva. His fear was that the settlement of the matter in an international tribunal would amount to US recognition of British rights over the Islands.

So, America’s position is set in stone. The USA recognises the de facto ownership of the Falkland Islands by Britain but takes no side in the claims of sovereignty. To suggest that this amounts to the USA refusing to recognise a referendum that has not yet taken place is simply wrong.

The United States of America merely wishes to stay well out of the way.


One Response to “More Silly Season”

  1. Joe Thorpe (@JoeThorpe1963) February 23, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    We should stay Neutral in a few US conflicts if that’s the way they want to play.

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