The Falklands are well defended, much better than in 1982, and the international opinion tide is turning “on our favour” said Dick Sawle, elected member of the Falklands’ Legislative Assembly recently back from a round of political contacts in New York and Washington.
Interviewed Wednesday in the live BBC Daily Politics program next to two British MPs, (Tory Nick Herbert and Labour, Hilary James Wedgwood Benn), MLA Sawle said he didn’t think there is any likehood of any military action against the Falklands from Argentina besides “the bellicose rhetoric we get from Argentina on a fairly constant basis”.
When asked if “Argentine rhetoric turns muscular” and based on UK military opinions such as those of Admiral Sandy Woodward head of the Task Force sent to recover the Faklands in 1982, who argues that without US support the Islands are “perilously close to being indefensible”, MLA Sawle was emphatic.
“I doubt Argentina is that capable of mounting a military action against the Falklands; we have 4 Typhoons, a T42 destroyer, HMS Clyde and forces on the ground. We are a lot much better defended that we were in 1982 (when the Argentine invasion) and I believe that defence is pretty secure”.
Sawle added that “I think we all sleep comfortably in our beds knowing we have a very strong defence of the Falklands”
Asked if international opinion was turning against the Falklands, MLS Sawle was most enthusiastic about the Falklands policy in the international stage.
“I think it’s the opposite, the international tide is turning on our favour, we are going out into the international forums; we are speaking more vocally about our own position and our wishes, which are the most important things”.
But “the US, the world’s greatest super power signed in June a declaration calling on the UK and Argentina to begin sovereignty discussions over the Falklands”.
MLA Sawle said the message from the United States “hasn’t changed since 1940, so it’s very much the same message they have been putting our in the OAS (Organization of American States) for many, many years”.
The Falklands’ representative also revealed that before arriving in London he had completed a round of political contacts in Washington.
“Before coming over I also visited Washington and to a man, I can say all political contacts were extremely supportive”, underlined MLA Sawle.
Labour MP Hilary James Wedgwood Benn was equally assertive about the UK’s commitment to the Falklands and self determination, saying that the first responsibility of any British government is to make sure the Falklands are properly protected, because “we saw what happened when they weren’t, when a dictatorship launched an invasion”.
The (UK) government has a responsibility it must exercise because “we are very clear as long as the Falkland Islands want to remain British, and they do, then that is what will happen and we’ll defend them on that right”.
Conservative MP Nick Herbert ratified PM David Cameron’s statement that the Falklands sovereignty is ‘not negotiable’ but also the government’s “clarity of purposes”.
The UK coalition government has a firm, consistent approach to the Falklands’ issue which has been made absolutely clear to the international stage and to Argentina, but “of course, we want to engage with Argentina on all sort of other issues”, said MP Herbert.
Finally when asked about the US position on the Falklands, MP Herbert said that it ought to be remembered “there was actually a great deal of help given by the US when we sought to reclaim the Falklands (in 1982), and they remain very important allies for us”.