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Montevideo, December 5th 2016 - 04:31 UTC

US Falklands' policy 'disappointing' but, one of many issues of US/UK special relationship

Friday, April 4th 2014 - 03:05 UTC
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The report also emphasizes the 'spirit of realism' from British PM David Cameron foreign policy The report also emphasizes the 'spirit of realism' from British PM David Cameron foreign policy

The United States failure to recognize the right of the Falkland Islands to national self-determination is “disappointing”, reads a British House of Commons inquiry into the health of the so-called special relationship between the UK and the US. The report was released a day after the 32nd anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the South Atlantic islands (2 April 1982) and highlights London's frustration on the issue.

 “We are disappointed that the US administration fails to give priority to the principle of self-determination in its position on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands,” says the 67-page report by the Foreign Affairs Committee in its chapter, Case study: the Falklands.

However the report also admits that in the spirit of realism, “we recognize that the United States' position in the Western hemisphere gives it particular interests there, and that the issue of the Falklands must take its place among the many other international questions on which the US and UK are engaged”.

Despite the fact that 99.8% of voters in the Falkland Islands chose to remain a British Overseas Territory in a referendum in March last year, the US continues to remain “neutral” in the dispute, in order not to upset its relations with Argentina.

Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's ambassador to Washington until 2012, admitted to the committee that US position on the Falklands had been “uncomfortable...[and] not what we wanted”.

Critics of the Obama administration argue that the current US stance does not even amount to “neutrality” since it calls for talks between Britain and Argentina in defiance of the clearly-expressed will of the Falkland Islanders.

Luke Coffey, a former adviser to Liam Fox when he was Defense Secretary and now the Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Conservative think-tank in Washington, said the US had clearly “abandoned its long held position of neutrality” in the dispute.

”Negotiations over the status of the Falkland Islands is the official Argentine position. Instead of keeping quiet (neutral), under Obama's leadership, the US has started backing Argentina's calls for talks. This is a change from previous administrations and a departure from neutrality,“ he said.

However, Paragraph 31 of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, ”Government foreign policy towards the United States“, Eighth Report of Session
2013, is more balanced.

”We are disappointed that the US Administration fails to give priority to the principle of self-determination in its position on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. This is particularly so given the way in which the UK allows the US to use two other UK Overseas Territories, Ascension Island and Diego Garcia, for military basing. However, in the spirit of realism which we welcome in the Government, we recognize that the United States' position in the Western hemisphere gives it particular interests there, and that the issue of the Falklands must take its place among the many other international questions on which the US and UK are engaged“.

In other key areas the report was positive, praising the PM David Cameron Coalition government for taking a less supine position towards the US that during the Tony Blair years and supporting William Hague's formulation of the relationship as ”solid not slavish“.

It also found that the Commons vote against military intervention in Syria last year had not damaged the Special Relationship instead demonstrating the underlying depth and resilience of US-UK ties - a position not universally agreed upon in the Washington foreign policy community.

Meanwhile, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez claimed on Wednesday that the Falkland Islands serve as a nuclear base for the NATO alliance in the South Atlantic.

The Islands, she said, ”constitute a NATO military nuclear base in the South Atlantic - this is the truth that they can't continue to hide“. Further on she alleged the Falklands is ”among the most militarized areas in the world,” saying some 1,500 soldiers and 2,000 civilian military personnel are stationed there amid a population of just 1,000.

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