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Year 2010 No. 6, March 2, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

No to Britain’s Provocative and Colonialist
Actions in the South Atlantic!
No to a New Malvinas War!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

No to Britain’s Provocative and Colonialist Actions in the South Atlantic! No to a New Malvinas War!

Support for the Stand of Argentina

Towards a New Falklands Conflict? Little England Struts Again

What Is at Stake in the Falklands?

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No to Britain’s Provocative and Colonialist
Actions in the South Atlantic!
No to a New Malvinas War!

A Scottish-based oil company last week commenced drilling in the waters to the north of the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands to explore for expected large reserves of hydrocarbons. Argentina has accused Britain of a "unilateral act of aggression and subjugation" in so doing.

WDIE vigorously condemns the provocative and colonialist action, carried out with the fullest backing of the British government. It would be to add war crime to war crime if this action were to precipitate a further conflict in the South Atlantic, and Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband added to the aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq by following in Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps in pursuit of "Making Britain Great Again".

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez signed a decree limiting maritime transit between the continental territory and the islands in the South Atlantic. According to the Argentinean Vice Foreign Minister Victorio Tacceti, the presidential decree was signed in response to Britain’s unilateral actions. WDIE fully supports the stand of the Argentinean government in taking steps to prevent British encroachment off its shores. WDIE applauds the stand of the Latin American countries who have declared their support for Argentina in this matter.

It is patently obvious that Britain has no business unilaterally staking any claim seven and a half thousand miles from these shores. The dispute regarding the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands should have been resolved by Britain long ago. The interests of the islanders could have been taken care of within the context of Argentinean sovereignty. The issue of "self-determination" has been fraudulently used, as also, for example, with Gibraltar, to block the issue of peaceful negotiations. For the British government, there has been no issue of "self-determination" when it has come to the sovereignty of Iraq or Afghanistan. What is completely unacceptable is to act as though the matter is one for Britain to unilaterally determine, and to prepare for the use of force to clinch the issue.

This betrays the old colonialist and empire building mentality and modus operandi of the British. There is every reason to suppose that the British government is acting in the interests of the British monopolies and multinationals, and has its eyes not only on the hydrocarbons in the South Atlantic as North Sea oil and gas reserves dwindle and become more difficult to access, but also on the subterranean wealth of the vast Antarctic continent. Britain has been militarising the Islands since 1982. Sir Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord, said: "Since 1982 we have built a massive runway. We have emplaced forces on the ground, we have sophisticated early warning systems. It is a completely different package, so to compare the way we dealt with the issues in 1982 with today is nonsense," he added. In other words, British governments have been preparing for conflict, no matter that the outcome is likely to be a fiasco for Britain given the sea-change in Latin American governments since the days when these states were regarded as the backyard of US imperialism.

We call on the working class and people of Britain to oppose the chauvinism and imperialist outlook of the British government and the ruling circles, and their associated warmongering. The way out of the crisis is not to be found through further warmongering, nor lining up behind the interests of the monopolies. It is to be found in organising the working class into an effective political force that can block Britain’s imperialist adventures, rebuild the economy in favour of the majority of the people, and take a proletarian internationalist stand in favour of the sovereignty of nations everywhere and the struggle of the working class the world over to build a new world.

Article Index

Support for the Stand of Argentina

Warning that the diplomatic stand-off with Britain over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands was "worsening", the foreign minister of Argentina, Jorge Taiana, said last Wednesday that he had formally asked the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, to use his influence to kick-start talks to resolve the situation.

"The Secretary-General knows about the issue. He is not happy to learn that the situation is worsening," Jorge Taiana said after meeting Ban Ki Moon. "We have asked the Secretary-General, within the framework of his good offices, to stress to Britain the need to abstain from further unilateral acts."

Speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters, Mr Taiana reiterated Argentina's claim that Britain's decision to allow oil drilling in disputed waters was clearly illegal and in violation of international resolutions.

Jorge Taiana arrived in New York from a regional summit in Mexico, with a statement of support from 23 Latin American and Caribbean nations of the Rio Group.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had set the tone of the summit, offering military support. Chávez demanded the return of the Malvinas to Argentina. "The English are still threatening Argentina. Things have changed. We are no longer in 1982," he warned. "If conflict breaks out, be sure Argentina will not be alone like it was back then." British control of the islands was "anti-historic and irrational", he continued, asking "why the English speak of democracy but still have a Queen?" Hugo Chavez advised the British monarch: "Queen of England, I'm talking to you. The time for empires is over, haven't you noticed? Return the Malvinas to the Argentine people."

Mr Chávez was joined by President Ortega of Nicaragua, who declared support for a resolution demanding that England return the Malvinas to their rightful owner, Argentina.

Brazil, the biggest regional power and traditionally Argentina’s main rival, was similarly supportive. "Las Malvinas must be reintegrated into Argentine sovereignty," Marco Aurelio García, foreign policy adviser to President Lula da Silva, said, adding: "Unlike in the past, today there is a consensus in Latin America behind Argentina’s claims."

(sources: BBC, The Independent, Times Online)

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Towards a New Falklands Conflict? Little England Struts Again

Finian Cunningham, Global Research, February 22, 2010

Exactly 28 years later, the spectre of the Falklands War makes a comeback. This was one of Britain's last colonial wars – a sordid episode in the annals of the British Empire. In 1982, UK Prime Minister Margaret sent a task force to "defend" the Falklands from long-held territorial claims by Argentina of Las Malvinas, which Britain had seized in 1833. The islands are approximately 300 kilometres off the coast of the South American mainland and 12,000km from Britain.

Some 900 servicemen – more than two-thirds of them Argentine – died in the 74-day Falklands War. The most notorious incident was the sinking of the Argentine navy cruiser, the General Belgrano, by a British submarine, HMS Conqueror, on 2 May, 1982. Two torpedoes dispatched 323 Argentineans to their watery graves. The attack was sanctioned by Thatcher and caused an international storm because it occurred outside British-declared territorial waters and the Belgrano was reported at the time to be sailing west, away from the disputed islands.

Infamously, the British tabloid Sun gloated over the Argentinean deaths with the front-page headline: "Gotcha". The resulting jingoistic war mood that swept Britain was much to the benefit of Thatcher and her Tory government. After two years in office, the wage-cutting, public-service axing rightwing Iron Maiden was sagging in the polls and deeply resented. A war to defend doughty Britain's national interests was just the ticket for her political revival and a crucial factor in her re-election in 1983.

Twenty-eight years later, the stakes are high again. Incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown is being assailed in the polls and media and his Labour government is staring at defeat in elections only months away. Britain is also languishing in economic depression, with a crippling trade deficit and national debt. But lying off its South Atlantic possession is an oilfield with a prize that is a jewel in the crown compared with Britain's (now depleted) North Sea hydrocarbon reservoirs – even when the latter were at their peak production back in the 1980s.

Reports put the oil reserves off the Falklands at 60 billion barrels of crude. To put this in perspective, Saudi Arabia – the world's top producer – has an estimated total reserve of 267 billion barrels.

Put another way, the oil find in the South Atlantic – if fully exploited – would put Britain in the world ranking of the top 17 oil-holding nations between Russia (8th) and Libya (9th).

This week, Britain started drilling 62 miles (100km) north of the Falklands, much to the chagrin of Buenos Aires, which continues to lay claim to the islands despite its humiliating defeat. Argentina has in response imposed naval restrictions around the islands and has received unanimous diplomatic backing from its South American neighbours. And Argentina is due to bring its claims to the United Nations.

British foreign secretary David Miliband claims that his county's oil exploration in the South Atlantic is "completely in accordance with international law (sic)."

But the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) states that the outer maritime limit for territorial claim by any country is 22 nautical miles (22km) from its coast. This is well short of the location where Britain has started drilling for oil off its colony – 62 miles (100km) – never mind the absurd remove of 8,000 miles (12,000km) from dear old Blighty. The self-declared British territorial claim around the South Atlantic islands of 200 miles (370km) is simply that: a self-declared claim that has no basis in international law.

A Second Falklands War may seem far-fetched. But the danger of conflict can never be discounted when an imperialist power – especially one with pretensions of greatness – feels under duress. History shows that Britain's lacklustre economy and discredited political establishment did not stop it from embarking on the Suez fiasco or the First and Second World Wars.

The latest diplomatic spat at the very least illustrates the friction when countries flaunt double standards. Argentina's President, Cristina Kirchner, speaking at a summit of South American states this week in Cancun, Mexico, put it well when she said: "Britain can systematically violate UN resolutions because it sits on the Security Council – while other nations have to obey UN resolutions otherwise they are labelled enemies or worse."

Article Index

What Is at Stake in the Falklands?

Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, February 23, 2010

WDIE is posting below an excerpt from an item by Rick Rozoff entitled "South Atlantic: Britain May Provoke New Conflict with Argentina" explaining what is at stake in the Falklands/Malvinas. The complete article can be viewed [here].



In late December Britain conducted a two-day military operation off the coast of the Falklands/Las Malvinas which included the use of Typhoon multi-role fighters and warships. The exercises, code-named Cape Bayonet, "took place during a tour of the Falklands by British forces ahead of the start of drilling in the basin in February 2010" and "simulated an enemy invasion...."[13]

A news report at the time added, "Britain has strengthened its military presence in the Falklands since the [1982] war and has a major operational base at Mount Pleasant, 35 miles from the capital Stanley.

"The prospect of the islands transforming into a major source of oil revenue for Britain has raised the military's argument for more funding to beef up the forces in South Atlantic."[14]

Four days before British drilling began off the islands, Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated, "We have made all the preparations that are necessary to make sure that the Falkland Islanders are properly protected,"[15] although Argentine officials have repeatedly denied the possibility of a military response to British encroachments and provocations in the South Atlantic Ocean.

On the same day, February 18, Argentina's Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Victorio Taccetti accused Britain of "a unilateral act of aggression and subjugation"[16] in moving to seize oil and gas in the disputed region. Buenos Aires has prohibited ships from going to and coming from the Falklands/Las Malvinas through Argentine waters.

What is at stake are, according to British Geological Survey estimates, as many as 60 billion barrels of oil under the waters off the Falklands/Las Malvinas.

In late January a Russian military analyst explained that even that colossal energy bonanza is not all that Britain covets near the Falklands/Las Malvinas and further south.

Ilya Kramnik wrote that "along with the neighbouring islands controlled by the UK, the Falklands are the de facto gateway to the Antarctic, which explains London's tenacity in maintaining sovereignty over them and the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as well as territorial claims regarding the South Shetland and South Orkney Islands under the Antarctic Treaty".

Regarding Antarctica itself, "Under the ice, under the continental shelf, there are enormous mineral resources and the surrounding seas are full of bio-resources. In addition, the glaciers of Antarctica contain 90% of the world's fresh water, the shortage of which becomes all the more acute with the growth in the world's population."[17]

A Chinese analysis of over two years earlier described what Britain in part went to war for in 1982 and why it may do so again: Control of broad tracts of Antarctica.

"The vastness of seemingly barren, ice-covered land is uncovered and exposed to the outside world, revealing a 'treasure basin' with incredibly abundant mineral deposits and energy reserves....A layer of Permian Period coal exists on the mainland, and holds 500 billion tons in known reserves.

"The thick ice dome over the land is home to the world's largest reservoir for fresh water; holds approximately 29.3 million cubic kilometres of ice; and makes up 75% of earth's fresh water supply.

"It is possible to say that the South Pole could feed the entire world with its abundant supplies of food [fish] and fresh water... [T]he value of the South Pole is not confined to the economic sphere; it also lies in its strategic position.

"The US Coast Guard has long had garrisons in the region, and the US Air Force is the number one air power in the region."[18]

The feature from which the preceding excerpts originated ended with a warning: "[T]he South Pole [Antarctic] Treaty points out that the South Pole can only be exploited and developed for the sake of peace; and can not be a battle ground. Otherwise, the ice-cold South Pole could prove a fiercely hot battlefield."[19]

Two days before the May 13, 2009 deadline for "states to stake their claims in what some experts [have described] as the last big carve-up of maritime territory in history",[20] Britain submitted a claim to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for one million square kilometres in the South Atlantic reaching into the Antarctic Ocean.

An article in this series written five days afterward detailed the new scramble for Antarctica initiated by Britain and Australia, the second being granted 2.5 million additional square kilometres in the Antarctic Ocean in April of 2008.[21]

A newspaper in the United Kingdom wrote about London's million-kilometre South Atlantic and Antarctic ambitions beforehand that "Not since the Golden Age of the Empire has Britain staked its claim to such a vast area of land on the world stage. And while the British Empire may be long gone, the Antarctic has emerged as the latest battleground for rival powers competing on several fronts to secure valuable oil-rich territory....The Falklands claim has the most potential for political fall-out, given that Britain and Argentina fought over the islands 25 years ago, and the value of the oil under the sea in the region is understood to be immense. Seismic tests suggest there could be about 60 billion barrels of oil under the ocean floor."[22]

Last autumn a Russian news source warned about the exact initiative of this February 22 in stating, "Many believe that the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina with almost 1,000 servicemen killed in the hostilities was all about oil and gas fields in the South Atlantic. In this sense, Desire Petroleum should certainly think twice before starting to capitalise on what was a subject of the bloodbath in 1982..."

Regarding the territorial claims submitted by Britain last May (still in deliberations at the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf), the report pointed out London's "eagerness to expand its Falkland Islands' continental shelf from 200 to 350 nautical miles, which would enable Britain to develop new oil fields in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands", and ended with a sombre warning:

"Given London's unwillingness to try to arrive at a political accommodation with Buenos Aires, a UN special commission will surely have tougher times ahead as far as its final decision on the continental shelf goes. And it is only to be hoped that Britain will be wise enough not to turn the Falkland Islands into another regional hot spot."[23]

Unlike the first South Atlantic war of 1982, when the regime of General Leopoldo Galtieri garnered no support from other Latin American nations, a future standoff or armed conflict between Argentina and Britain over the Falklands/Las Malvinas will see Latin American and Caribbean states acting in solidarity with Argentina.

If the United Kingdom succeeds in provoking a new war, it in turn will appeal to its NATO allies for logistical, surveillance and other forms of assistance, including direct military intervention if required. In addition to the US and Canada, Britain's NATO allies in the Western Hemisphere include France and the Netherlands with their possessions and military bases in the Caribbean and South America.

Britain is playing with fire and if it ignites a new conflict it could rapidly spread far beyond the waters off the southern tip of South America.


13. United Press International, December 28, 2009
14. Ibid
15. Reuters, February 18, 2010
16. Xinhua News Agency, February 19, 2010
17. Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 28, 2010
18. People's Daily, December 4, 2007
19. Ibid
20. Reuters, October 7, 2007
21. Scramble For World Resources: Battle For Antarctica Stop NATO, May 16, 2009
22. The Scotsman, October 23, 2007
23. Voice of Russia, September 16, 2009

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