The Times of London, in a story that borders on the passive-aggressive, is reporting that President Obama has refused to endorse British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. The short skinny of this is that there's another Buenos Aires-London row over the rightful ownership of the islands (you may remember that the last such incident ended in rather poor results for Argentina), incited by a British proposal to drill off the Falklands coast. Mostly, though, it's the standard Argentinean response to poor internal economic conditions.

The Argentinean claim to the Falklands strikes me as a bit silly. It's the usual anti-colonialist bunk, which comes without a hint of irony, as if they collectively forgot how South America was settled. The kicker is, Her Majesty's sovereignty over the islands was permanently solidified when the junta invaded the islands in 1982 and were subsequently expelled. There must be a price paid for starting and losing wars, and cession of territory has traditionally been the bill. Further, the vast majority of the islands' 3,000 inhabitants are subjects of the British crown. They have a right to self determination, and the Falklands proximity to Argentina's coast has little to do with sovereignty. It's the same as Spain's claim to Gibraltar --another imperial remnant-- which was lost during the Napoleonic Wars and is now overwhelming populated by British subjects. These are legally and internationally recognized territories of the United Kingdom, with citizenries who swear allegiance to the Crown.

So Argentina tosses Obama a softball, a fantastic way to bandage the U.S.-British special relationship that he's treated so shabbily, and he blows it. Meanwhile, British forces continue to fight and die alongside U.S. Marines in the Helmand...

Update: A reader points out that I need to brush up on my history, or at least my British history. Gibraltar was annexed by the British during the War of Spanish Succession, not the Napoleonic Wars. Many thanks for the correction.

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