Britain Threatens Nuclear Attack on Argentina: How little islands are causing big problems…again

All eyes are on Iran. Meanwhile...
Here’s my final sprint into the history of modern Britain. Bibliography: E. J Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, 1st ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987). Seth Koven, Slumming: Sexual...

On the day it was announced that Russia's Vladamir Putin won the election I listened to a spokesperson from Argentina on RT news who said  Putin will create a balance of power in the world. He was so happy he looked as if he would cry. Now I understand why.
The English, joined at the hip with the United States have been pushing the imperial agenda with their warships in Las Islas Malvinas just off the coast of Argentina - again - and they're drilling oil there. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez imposed controls on shipping in the waters around the islands, stating that any ship travelling to or from the islands must get prior permission from her country - a requirement Britain told captains to ignore. In his weekly program, Alo Presidente, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recently backed up the Argentine people when he told the Queen Elizabeth II that the days of empire are over:
"Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas Queen of England, I'm talking to you... the time for empires are over, haven't you noticed? Return the Malvinas to the Argentine People."
He warned the British that should there be war, Argentina will not be left to fend for itself. In his message to the queen he stated, "The English are still threatening Argentina. Things have changed. We are no longer in 1982. If conflict breaks out, be sure Argentina will not be alone like it was back then."
Axis of Logic Columnist, T.J. Coles does an excellent job of explaining the history behind this imperial move against Argentina, their violations of international law, their motivation and the nature of their aggression.

On the thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War (1982), Britain has sent a nuclear-armed submarine to Malvinas in response to Argentine President Kirchner’s diplomatic efforts to realise key UN resolutions and peacefully reclaim territorial waters from European over-fishing and oil exploration.1 Britain’s move should be considered a grave breach of the peace and the most grievous violation of Chapter1 Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which prohibits the threat of force.2
Sending a nuclear-armed vessel to Argentina’s waters in response to diplomacy obliterates the idea that the UK’s Continuous at Sea doctrine has anything to do with nuclear “deterrence,” as is claimed.3 Rather, it has everything to do with “wielding a big stick … [to] compel others to act in a desired manner,” as former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Stanhope put it to Chatham House in 2009.4 The situation has once again illustrated that a world dominated by a psychopathic, power-mad, mostly male elite is a very dangerous and possibly terminal one.5

British nuclear submarine HMS Trafalgar in the Malvinas.
The BBC acknowledged that “The Latin America and the Caribbean region is designated a nuclear-free zone under a treaty signed in the 1960s,” which the UK has no trouble violating.6 Polls taken in 2008 indicate that most people want the entire world to be a nuclear-weapons-free-zone. “All countries with nuclear weapons would be required to eliminate them according to a timetable. All other countries would be required not to develop them”, a WorldPublicOpinion survey proposed:
“All countries … would be monitored to make sure they are following the agreement.” A global average of 76% favoured the proposals including their own state’s nuclear weapons, where relevant: 77% of Americans favoured this position; 87% French; 81% Britons; 69% Russians; 83% Chinese; 67% Israelis; 62% Indians; 46% Pakistanis (41% opposed).7
The fact that de-nuclearisation has not happened not only illustrates the contempt that governments have for their own publics, but also their contempt for international law. Because nuclear weapons murder indiscriminately, yet under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD, yes MAD) which may serve legitimate self-defence, the World Court (ICJ) advised in 1996 that the only lawful way to resolve the issue is global disarmament.8 Britain has really demonstrated its contempt for the law with the Malvinas issue.
Malvinas: The Law
Argentina has sovereignty claims over Islas Malvinas, or “the Falkland Islands” as the British occupiers call them. However, as President Kirchner explained in December 2011, “Malvinas is not an Argentine cause, it’s a global cause because they [the British] are taking our fisheries and oil resources.”9 Argentina’s case for sovereignty is a strong one, but unlike the occupation of Palestine (for instance) the issue is yet to be settled by the International Court of Justice (as it should).10
That said, the issue of Argentina’s claim is completely separate from Britain’s sovereignty claim. Before Argentina’s claim can be settled, the region must first be decolonised because Britain has no legal right to Malvinas. But decolonisation cannot happen while Britain continues to occupy the islands.

Britain’s claim to sovereignty (and thus self-determination for the islanders) is an open-and-shut case: Britain has no legal entitlement to the islands or the territorial waters. Therefore, the islands must be demilitarised and peacefully decolonised. By implication of various UN resolutions (cited below), Argentina can claim sovereignty following decolonisation (uti possidetis). The issue of Britain’s false sovereignty claim (the one addressed in this article) is codified in several United Nations resolutions:
General Assembly Resolution 2065 (XX), adopted on 16 December 1965, “Consider[ed] … the cherished aim of bringing to an end everywhere colonialism in all its forms, one of which covers the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).” The Resolution left it to Argentina and Britain to negotiate the issue using bilateral diplomacy.11 Britain violated this aspect of the Resolution. As a result, in December 1973, General Assembly Resolution 3160 (XXVIII) “Express[ed] its gratitude for the continuous efforts made by the Government of Argentina … to facilitate the process of decolonization and to promote the well-being of the population of the island.” The Resolution also “Urge[d] the Governments of Argentina [and the UK] …to put an end to the colonial situation” (italics in original).12 Again, Britain refused to obey the law.
The reason for Malvinas’ classification as a colonial issue dates back to the acquisition of the islands by France. King’s College London specialist Christoph Bluth noted that “Since the islands were terra nullius before the French settled at Port Louis and claimed sovereignty over them, the British settlement [beginning 1765] must be considered to have been illegal.”13 Malvinas was then sold to Spain, a fact which Britain recognised. Article VIII of the British-Spanish Treaty of Utrecht (1713) states that:
"...neither the Catholic King [Charles II] nor any of his heirs and successors whatsoever, shall sell, yield, pawn, transfer or by any means under any name alienate from them and the Crown of Spain to the French or to any nations whatever any lands dominions or territories or any part thereof belonging to Spain in America."14
In 1771, under the threat of war, Spain agreed to allow British colonisers to remain on the island, but also emphasised its sovereignty over Islas Malvinas. Bluth stated that “Argentina claims that it succeeded to Spanish rights according to the principle of uti possidetis. The principle means that Latin American states succeed to Spanish territorial boundaries after Spanish departure from their colonies.”15
Commenting in the Chatham House journal International Affairs, Peter Calvert noted that “By 1811 Spain had exercised all rights of sovereignty in the islands for thirty seven years, and by the Nootka Sound Convention of 1790 Britain had appeared to recognize this fact”, and subsequently withdrew “the entire settlement on East Falkland.”16 In 1810, Buenos Aires created its own government.
Argentina declared independence in 1816 and, four years later, the Heroina Colonel Daniel Jewitt landed on the islands on behalf of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, to which the Argentines chartered the French merchant Louis Vernet in order to settle the island, naming him governor in 1828, and successor to the Spanish. Writing in The Yale Law Journal, W. Michael Reisman affirmed that “Upon acquiring independence, a former colony [i.e. Argentina] ordinarily inherits all the territory of that colony. This principle, enshrined in Latin America and, a century later, in Africa, would certainly appear to apply to the Falklands [Malvinas].”17
In 1833, Britain expelled the inhabitants. Argentina’s Foreign Minister Don Manuel Moreno was told by Prime Minister Palmerston in response to questions of sovereignty, that “the Government of the United Provinces could not reasonably have anticipated that the British Government would permit any other state to exercise a right as derived from Spain which Great Britain had denied to Spain itself.”18 Writing in International Affairs, Peter Calvert noted that “The [British] Foreign Office has on a number of occasions since 1910 been the scene of doubts about the validity of Britain’s case in international law and in fact the grounds on which Britain has based its claim have been changed not once but twice during the period [1910-1982].”19
The latest position of the Foreign Office is that it is up to the islanders to decide whether to claim self-determination or to remain British citizens. “The fact that they are of British ‘kith and kin’ goes to show that they are not indigenous,” Christoph Bluth wrote, “that they were sent to the Falklands after the forceful removal of the previous inhabitants in order to colonize them for Britain, and that hence the principle of self-determination does not apply” because Britain has no legal right to the islands.20 Alejandro Betts, for example, felt compelled to leave Malvinas in 1982 after the war, and, because of racist-nationalistic decrees preventing Argentines from even visiting the islands, he had to leave his family behind.21
In 1983, the British Parliament passed the British Nationality Act (Falkland Islands) recognising Malvinas’ population as British. In 2011, the UN General Assembly paraphrased Dick Swale, a member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, admitting that “the Argentine population had been expelled by the British in 1833,” noting that “the small civilian population present on the Islands had been encouraged to remain” by the government in Buenos Aires. Even though this was admitted, he was quoted directly as saying that “Sovereignty is not negotiable,” thereby confirming that the Falklanders are primarily interested in the issue of sovereignty, not self-determination.22
Imagine if the diplomatic and military powers of Britain and Argentina were reversed and the Argentines had colonised the Shetland Islands by expelling the population. Despite UN demands, the Argentines refuse to decolonise the territory, refuse to let Britons even visit, and in response Britain (under a military junta) occupies the islands without any bloodletting. Argentina then vetoes a UK-backed ceasefire draft resolution and expands the war by mining the island, sending a nuclear submarine, sinking retreating British warships, and, for the next thirty years, engages in oil exploration and over-fishing in British territorial waters, violating the twelve nautical mile limit set by the UN.23
Military Build-Ups
Much more serious than the Malvinas issue are Britain’s historic socioeconomic policies in Argentina and their contemporary reverberations. “British companies played a vital role in Argentina’s commercial development during the 19th century,” House of Commons Library analyst Vaughn Miller explained, omitting all reference to the poverty it caused. “The railways, food processing plant and many of the financial services were developed and managed by British firms.”24 The election of Peron in 1946 reversed “electorally fraudulent conservative rule in Argentina”, including “British control over public utilities” and “indebtedness,” Guillermo A. Makin wrote in the Chatham House publication International Affairs—Argentines having been forced to accept British “loans.”25
Less serious than the socioeconomic strangulation, but still important and provocative, are the UK’s acts of aggression against Argentina. “[T]he use of force has not been a permanent feature of the approach of the various very different Argentine political regimes to the [Malvinas] dispute,” Makin noted. Despite Argentina’s “willingness to comply with an agreement not to have an abnormal concentration of warships in the area”, Britain violated Argentina’s territorial waters in the 1950s with the John Biscoe, which brought materials for the construction of a UK military base.
The Argentine Army disbanded the operations but incurred the wrath of the UK military which burned down an Argentine base at Deception, and another two in the following years.26 Oil became the key issue in the mid-1970s when UNESCO sponsored a prospecting project. In 1975, the RSS Shackleton was fired upon when it violated Argentina’s territorial waters. House of Commons researchers Claire Taylor and Vaughn Miller pointed out that Britain’s resurgent interest had to do with economics:
In 1976 and 1982 Lord Shackleton produced two reports on the status of the Falkland Islands economy which subsequently became the blueprint for the economic rejuvenation of the Islands. Among the reports’ recommendations were several initiatives aimed at moving the Islands away from a reliance on the wool industry and diversifying the economy, with a specific emphasis on fisheries, other forms of agriculture, and tourism.27
During this time, Britain (as noted) was violating the UN resolutions calling for both the decolonisation of Malvinas and for the matter to be settled peacefully. All the while, British warships were “guarding” commercial vessels. Without any bloodshed, the Argentine Army invaded the islands in April 1982. “Invaded,” because, as noted, Argentina’s claim to sovereignty has yet to be formally recognised. Once it is successful, Argentina cannot be said to have “invaded” its own territory.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 502, which condemned the action, demanded a withdrawal from the islands, and a diplomatic solution.28 By responding with force, Britain also violated the Resolution and went on to veto Argentina’s draft resolution calling for a ceasefire.29 It was later revealed that Britain had deployed a nuclear-armed submarine which forced Argentine vessels to “sulk in the port”, as Thatcher put it. Retired Admiral Richard Heaslip was quoted as saying that “The Argentines had a good navy in 1982. But after we got a nuclear submarine down there they went back to port and never dared venture out.”30 As the vessels were retreating, British missiles sank the Belgrano, thereby choosing to escalate the war.
In 1986, the Falkland Island Government (FIG), fresh from Britain’s military “success”, felt emboldened to unilaterally declare a 150 nautical mile radius of fishing rights, even though the UN Law of the Sea (1982) stipulates that a nation can claim twelve nautical miles of territorial waters from its coast. Added to which, the islands are almost certainly Argentine territory and certainly not British territory, so the FIG had no legal entitlement to make such claims.31
Relations between the Argentine and British governments warmed in the 1990s when “President [Carlos] Menem reduced subsidies for the poor, privatised previously state-owned companies, reduced government regulation on businesses[, …] pardoned military officers convicted of human rights violations … and pursued better relations with Britain and the United States,” Taylor and Miller explained.32 In other words, as long as a Thatcherite, human rights abuser was in power, he was our kind of guy:
“British exports grew by 50 per cent in 1993 and there are good investment opportunities”, said then-Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd (who had previously financed Saddam Hussein). “We continue to disagree about sovereignty over the Falkland Islands”, he continued, “but we have an agreement on fisheries conservation and we expect to meet the Argentines in July [1994] to discuss oil.” The House of Commons Library paper went on to explain that “Since 1992 Britain and Argentina had discussed oil and gas exploration under the “sovereignty umbrella” and in 1995 they agreed to create a South West Atlantic Hydrocarbons Commission to pursue areas of joint interest.”33 As we shall see, however, when a populist government was elected, Britain changed course.
After the Falklands War (1982) and long before the current tension, Britain was occupying Malvinas and the related waters with four Tornado F3 fighter aircraft, an VC10 tanker aircraft, a Hercules C130, two Sea King helicopters, a Rapier Squadron of surface-to-air missiles, two Sikorski S61 helicopters, the Falkland Islands Patrol Vessel, a nuclear-powered attacked submarine, a Class 1 Icebreaker (HMS Endurance), a frigate or a destroyer (depending upon other occupation commitments), and a patrol of 1,450 troops (nearly one soldier per settler). There are also 101 minefields on the island covering twenty square miles, containing 25,000 mines (according to US State Department figures).34
The occupation is costing British taxpayers over £100 million per annum, at a time when 20,000 UK houses are being repossessed each year, and 30,000 pensioners are dying of the cold because they can’t afford heating. [35] Added to which, the British government “invested” £46 million of taxpayer money into Malvinas businesses. The Ministry of Defence would not authorise such a massive deployment of artillery just to guard a pile of rocks that few Britons could even find on a map. The real issue is oil. Indeed, after vacillating efforts to return Malvinas from 1910 to the 1950s, Britain’s interest in the islands was revived in the 1970s after UNESCO sponsored the oil expeditions.
Oil and Gas
Writing in The Yale Law Journal, W. Michael Reisman articulated Britain’s real concern for Malvinas:
"Under the British, the Falkland Islands became 'Falklands Ltd.,' essentially a company town. The Falkland Islands Company, chartered in 1851, is 'a privately owned monopoly enforced by the British Government” [citing Newsweek]. … It owns roughly half the land, half the sheep, warehouses, and ships and in addition employs 80% of the nongovernment employees on the islands. It is the sole agent for vending of the islands’ two million kilogram crop of wool—half of it sheared from the Company sheep. It has been reported that the overwhelming bulk of the profits has been exported to Britain, not reinvested locally."36
The non-redistribution of profits continues today (as we shall see). Dr. Ian Duncan, CEO of Desire Petroleum, stated that:
"The 1998 drilling campaign established the presence of a thick (over 1,000 metres) non-marine, oil source rock, believed to be one of the richest in the world. … As a result of the favourable fiscal regime in the Falklands [bolstered by UK occupation], relatively small oil fields are likely to be commercial. For example, based on a $30/barrel oil price and a 10% discount factor, oil fields containing 40 million barrels would be commercial. Oil prices have risen considerably during 2005 and, although costs have also risen, it is believed the overall commerciality of a discovery has been considerably enhanced. (Emphasis added)."37
As a result of “the favourable fiscal regime”, the islanders are poor, earning little over £24,000 a year by 2007. [38] The tacit assumption is a sweet deal for energy, gas, livestock, wool, and fishing companies: you can have quasi-self-determination with Ministry of Defence protection if you agree to poverty. That the people are being ripped off by the very government they claim are their saviours borders on the surreal.

"Una región del camp" - a region in the countryside in Malvinas
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal explained that “The Falklands government only takes a 26% share of oil earnings in addition to a 9% royalty on each barrel of oil sold, making it one of the most favourable areas in the world for exploration”—or exploitation. [39] In other words, the UK military not only have access to energy fields the size of the North Sea field, but guard a pliant population. Usually, it is the subjugated colonial people who get ripped off, not the protected colonisers. Writing in 2009, Money Week reported that:
"British firm Rockhopper Exploration discovered a massive natural gas deposit – one that could be as big as 7.9 trillion cubic feet. … In May, the Argentinian government submitted a claim at the UN to 1.7 million square miles of seabed that includes the Falkland Islands oil basin. The British authorities refute it, but the dispute could still hold up drilling activity until a resolution is reached."40
…Unless Britain “wields the big stick.” A year later, the Wall Street Journal reported that:
"Analysts say that as much as 60 billion barrels of high-grade oil could be found in the 200-square-mile economic zone surrounding the islands. If estimates prove correct, this could make the Falklands one of the world’s largest oil reserves, comparable with the North Sea, which so far has produced about 40 billion barrels. … But despite the politics, the Falklands will remain the next frontier in oil exploration. 'Geology doesn’t stop at political borders,' says Mr. Obee, of Borders & Southern."41
Since the year 2000, the UK has been escalating the military occupation. However, also since 2000, “the size of the Argentine Armed Forces has remained relatively static,” compared with “the continued military presence and upgrading of the British military base” on Malvinas, the House of Commons reported.42 On the renewal of some of Argentina’s military equipment, the paper failed to ask where Argentina is getting its weapons.
As tensions mounted in 2006, Britain sold Argentina £7.5million-worth of weapons, including “components for combat aircraft, components for combat helicopters, [and] components for military training aircraft.” In 2007, another £7.5 million, including “military utility vehicles, products containing plutonium-239, [and] radio jamming equipment.” In 2008, £17.4 million, including “components for frigates” and “components for military aircraft pressurised breathing equipment.” In 2009, nearly £1 million, including “shotguns” and “small arms ammunition.”43
The House of Commons Library paper also acknowledged that “The catalyst for the renewed Argentinean sovereignty campaign is believed to have arisen as a result of the Falklands decision in 2005 to grant fishing concessions around the Islands over a 25-year period, rather than by annual renewal,” recalling the events of 1986. Despite this violation of international law, the paper admits that “In April 2006 President [Nestor] Kirchner marked the anniversary of the start of the Falklands war by maintaining that the Islands “must be a national objective of all Argentineans, and with dialogue, diplomacy and peace we must recover them for our homeland,”” despite the admitted UK military build-up (emphasis added).44
Kirchner’s successor, and wife, has been diplomatically engaging in what is referred to in scholarly geopolitical analysis as “resource nationalism”—that whacky idea that states have the right to utilise their own resources. The Falklands War of 1982 had little to do with the invasion. Rather, it was designed to teach “uppity Argies” stern lessons in exercising sovereignty: “Allow Argentina to make a colony of the Falklands and you make a potential prey of every little nation on earth”, Cecil Parkinson MP explained in 1982 (without a trace of irony), as did the so-called opposition leader Michael Foot: “there is the longer term interest to ensure that foul and brutal aggression does not succeed in the world” (referring to Argentina’s efforts to decolonise the islands).45 “Wielding the big stick” to teach “the Argies” a lesson seems to be the policy employed today. In 2009, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that the real issue is oil and gas:
"By 2029 there is expected to be a considerable increase in demand for energy. In particular gas will be of increasing importance as states struggle to maintain energy supplies. … Many boundary disputes, such as those in the Arctic, Gulf of Guinea and the South Atlantic will become inextricably linked to the securing of energy supplies. The UK will be critically dependent upon energy imports. This will demand strong regional influence – including supporting our European partners and – if necessary, the ability to project and maintain military power in the context of regional security that creates a favourable balance of power, at range and at the European margins. … The UK will be critically dependent upon energy imports and securing them will be non-discretionary. (Emphases added)."46
The UK is far from “critically dependent” upon energy imports, as the North Sea has enough energy for the UK, and Britons could easily erect solar, wind, and hydro power infrastructure. When the MoD discusses “critical dependence”, they really mean that the major oil, arms, and finance companies paying Chatham House scholars to write national security papers are critically greedy.47
In January 2012, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey “revealed the increases in funding planned for the defence of the Falkland Islands until 2015.” In response to Argentina’s diplomatic efforts to abide by General Assembly Resolutions, and the country’s concern about the militarisation of its territorial waters, Britain decided to deploy HMS Dauntless, “a £1bn Type 45 air defence destroyer” which will arrive in March. Former First Sea Lord Admiral West explained that “Should there be any foolish nonsense from Argentina, Dauntless can sit just off the airfield and take down any aircraft coming in … It’s a game-changing capability.”48

Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless, a state-of-the-art warship which the British decided to send to the Malvinas. The simmering tensions over the Malvinas Islands or Falkland Islands (off the coast of Argentina in the South Atlantic) as called by the British occupiers have become a matter of great concern as the UK decided to deploy destroyer HMS Dauntless to the islands. Also known as the Daring class, HMS Dauntless is often regarded the most powerful warship in the world.
As if the threats were not serious enough, “Argentina’s foreign minister”, Hector Timmerman, “has accused the UK of sending a nuclear-armed submarine to the South Atlantic, after making an official complaint to the UN over the Falklands dispute,” the BBC reported, which the Daily Mail confirmed.49 Flying in the face of international law yet again, the UK’s Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said that “the islanders have the right to self-determination, and London will enter into negotiations on the status of the Falklands only if the islanders request it.” (Mark Lyall Grant had previously rejected Gaddafi’s ceasefire option as a “grotesque offer of amnesty,” thereby allowing Britain to contribute to the murder of 30,000 Libyan civilians and the destruction of a country.) Reporting the important story about the nuclear threat, the Daily Mail plastered the article with propaganda pictures of what appear to be Argentine youths spraying graffiti onto walls and burning British flags (as if “the Argies” are a bunch of crazy street thugs). These pictures were contrasted with “dignified” nostalgic photos of Falklands War veterans huddled together round a Union Jack. The black and white evoked memories of World War II, as if “our boys” are out fighting fascism to protect vulnerable islanders. The fact that after WWII, Britain and America were backing Argentine neo-Nazis, under whose dictatorship thousands disappeared, was not addressed.50
Malvinas is essentially a UK military base with the PR-friendly cover of being home to nearly 2,000 English-speaking white people. The occupation of the islands has a disturbing parallel, namely the expulsion in the 1960s and 1970s of over a thousand Chagossians from the Diego Garcia archipelago. The Chagossians are of Creole descent, and were unfortunate enough to live in one of Britain’s colonial territories. They were forcibly removed by UK forces (their pets murdered with the implication that they would be next) so that the US could build a military base from which Afghanistan and Iraq were attacked.51
Today, some 5,000 Chagossians live in the slums of Mauritius and London where their struggle for repatriation continues, and continues to be blocked by the queen’s royal prerogative (a violation of the Bill of Rights). Any of the British government’s expression of concern for islanders (be they Falklanders or Chagossians) doesn’t rise to the level of black comedy. However, it provides a nice jingoistic cover for getting a war-weary British public to back further expenditure and militarisation of Argentina’s territory and waters.

1 comment:

If you sit by a river long enough, you'll see the body of your enemy float by.
Old Japanese proverb