Saturday, June 11, 2011

Britain Thrown Under the Bus Over the Falklands

(Image:  Hillary Clinton and Cristina Kirchner chat in Buenos Aires)

NATO isn't the only political arrangement possibly nearing the end of its shelf-life.  Thanks to our Dear Leader, our relationship with Great Britain my be in the twilight phase.  Ed Morrissey has the story on Hot Air:

Con Coughlin, of the UK's Telegraph, sounds like no big fan of America, but even he's concerned we're not interested in helping Britain's interest in the South Atlantic:

This story started off as a side-bar note to the Gates vs NATO story posted earlier.  But this topic quickly took on a life of its own:

I've been saying for years that the discussion we need to have about NATO is whether or not it still needs to exist. Instead, we've had successive administrations committed to expanding it.  Why not side with Argentina on the Falklands? The Brits can't defend it anymore, they barely pulled it off in 1982. I sure as hell don't want to see American committing itself to defending a boil on the rump of a dead empire at the bottom of the world.

I have a moral issue with supporting moribund, Latin American comic-opera regimes. And there simply is no sovereignty issue. The Islands are populated by Brits, not “oppressed campesinos.”  But at least you can say our admin has been consistent about throwing allies under the bus.

They are clearly British and should remain so. However, if the British lack the wherewithal to mount a defense, that's their problem, not ours.  Sovereignty is as much a de facto state as a de jure one.

Bingo - it's their problem not ours and if they can't or won't defend them then maybe they need to sit down and negotiate the issue however distasteful that may be. 

But we don’t need to be going out and endorsing the Arg’s rather spurious claims. This guy has a predilection for supporting our enemies.

Agreed! There is a big difference between saying Britain can handle it or not on their own (and with the results being a direct reflection on their abdication of many military responsibility), and stating that we think Argentina should get them because they are whining loudly and our daddy hated the brits.

No kidding. We should reasure the UK that we do not recognize Argentina's claim of sovereignty and that we have their back in the UN. Any deviation from that would just be bad precedent. Every chance we get, however, we should be reminding the British that defending that sovereignty militarily is up to them and they'd better get a clue before they are no longer able even to defend Plymouth from a rogue 30-foot Irish trawler!!!.

On the onther hand, as far as NATO goes, I know all of you have been tired of my decades long rant about why this should have gone away in 1991 (or been actually re-negotiated to comply with every post Cold War president's lofty vision). But the way things are....given that NATO's largest action to date continues to be in an area decidedly outside that covered by the North Atlantic Treay ("North Atlantic" or "North America"), I think if the Argies decided to have another go, the UK should appeal to NATO to fulfill its implied obligation to come to their aid. Every justification the US and NATO "allies" have created from the ether to justify a NATO operation in Afghanistan could be used to justify a NATO response to an attack on a member nation's soverign territory anywhere in the world. By the way, in case you are interested, that justification is the same one they put at the top of the documents admitting all those non-North Atlantic countries....that the security of the North Atlantic area would be enhanced/improved, or something to that effect.

There might be another reason for support of the Brits over the Falklands. They’ve been there longer than the U.S. has been in California, among other places. Moreover, the population of those rocks want the Brits. On the other hand, let the Argies have another go. Successive defeats are good for the soul.

I'm not sure I agree. As nations in Latin America gain more economic and political clout we will no longer be able to treat them like after thoughts which we have been doing for some time. If the Brits aren't willing to defend their own people it not only isn't our job to do it for them, I'm not sure it's our job to stand up for them either.

I realize this is not a popular or particularly comfortable view but it is the sort of difficult and uncomfortable question US policy makers and strategists are going to be faced with in the coming years and decades as our traditional allies get continually weaker and there are no replacements available. Gates' speech was a 16" broadside across the bow, far harsher than Rumsfeld's Old Europe speech of several years ago that he was roundly castigated for. Frankly, I think it is a harbinger of things to come that will make the pissing contests of Bush/Chiraq seem like polite little family squabbles.

I look at it from a political culture perspective. Latin America, while changing and perhaps not like it was in the 60s and 70s, has taken some turns for the worse when it comes to bad ideas (voting in commie wannabes) and continuing to nurse revanchist grudges that have not real benefits to them other than to keep people mad and forgetting about how crappy they have it at home.

We blew this in the early 90s when we championed all the various independence movements post Cold War, without bothering to look into the history of them--we thus managed to quite successfully restore the nastiest sort of ethnocentrism in the Balkans by resurrecting and encouraging ex-Nazi puppets. The whole thing was avoidable, I think, but would have required more finesse than we had. All we ultimately did was piss all over the one ally in the region, who, despite all the post-Milosevic reforms, we continue to crap on.  Encouraging the Args is a bad idea either way and could open the door to some historical messes I'm sure most of our politicians are unaware exist.

Challenging Europe to get their heads out and get real about defense spending is another thing altogether.

When I was in the UK in March we met with a couple of lords from Parliament. The fact if the matter in their eyes is one they and the current administration are frustrated with their lack of ability to act because of what Brown's gov't did on the way out. Perhaps a bit of a cop out, but the train had left the station before Cameron's gov't came to power. As for NATO I asked a French 2 star in Brussels if they would have gone to Libya without us and the answer was no. For France and England in particular they want to "punch above their weight" but realize they don't have the capacity nor the capability to do so. In both countries there is an expectation that the US support some their ventures, no matter how wild they may be, because they have supported us in Iraq (France no) and Afghanistan. Size doesn't matter in their minds, it's a principal thing and with our resources they can go off on their little escapades. Thus the politics enter and it becomes difficult, particularly where the UK is concerned, for us to thumb our noses at them when they ask for help. That would explain the angst among Brits back in March and why we as a country took so long to commit. I wouldn't be surprised if the Pres wanted to just say so what and carry on, but others in the administration likely convinced him to support the Brits and France as well. Truly a dilemma for us.

A dilemma indeed.  But I for one, support Great Britain's claim on the Falklands.

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