January 5, 2013 by Nash Riggins
The Sun has chosen to join the row over the Falkland Islands’ sovereignty by taking out a full-page advert in an Argentine newspaper rebuking the nation’s president.
The advert, which was published in the English-language Buenos Aires Herald, warned Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to keep her “hands off” of the islands, as they remained “resolutely British.”
Yet The Sun’s decision to dive into a long-term international dispute by publishing said ad is not only a national embarrassment, but dangerous. Indeed, the tasteful masterminds behind ‘Page 3’ would have done well to take into account the potential ramifactions of their antogonising behaviour before joining the foreign fray; after all, the last time that the UK and Argentina butted heads over the islands, 255 British and 649 Argentine servicemen lost their lives in the altercation. That’s a substantial sacrifice, given the islands themselves are home to less than 3,000 people.
In fact, although the Falklands boast the highest standard of living in South America, the sparse collective of islands is hardly an economic hotspot. Like many South American nations, it’s heavily reliant on tourism and commercial fishing – whilst its financial assets stay afloat due mainly in part to its UK-backed currency. Why, then, would anyone ever fight over such trivial and seemingly insignificant pieces of land?
In an open letter to David Cameron that was published Thursday in The Guardian and The Independent, Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claimed that her nation’s claim to the chain of islands – which they refer to as the ‘Malvinas’ – was a matter of national pride.
“Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity,” Kirchner wrote. “The question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism.”
Assuming her tactless approach is sincere, her words do maintain a certain degree of truth – after all, the Falklands are amongst the old British Empire’s most outlandish assets. British forces invaded the Falklands in 1765, and various powers have contested their sovereignty ever since. Geographically, it seems quite far-fetched that the UK should continue to maintain a claim over the islands – although the 2,800-some islanders who live there have repeatedly asserted to the world that they do indeed ‘feel more British than Argentine’. In the next couple of months, they may change their tune.
In fact, the Falklands are to stage a referendum this March that should ultimately decide with whom the islanders will make their bed. The Argentine government has already begun a massive smear campaign against the UK government and its colonialist actions, whilst Prime Minister David Cameron has clearly stated that he will resolutely accept the results of the Falklands’ upcoming referendum, whether he likes it or not. Apparently Ms Kirchner doesn’t feel the same way. Why?
To be honest, the answer probably doesn’t include ‘national pride’. According to industry analysts and drill-happy prospectors, the sea around the Falklands could be home to over £180bn in oil. Funny enough, both the UK and Argentine governments have failed to bring this up in their respective campaigns as to why they should assert sovereignty over the islands. In comes The Sun.
For whatever reason, it’s hard to believe that a tabloid regularly responsible for making false allegations, initiating unwarranted attacks on the LGBT community and grossly misrepresenting those suffering with mental health issues has the ability to single-handedly solve one of the British Empire’s final colonial battles by way of childish intimidation. In fact, it’s quite clear that The Sun doesn’t want to help solve the problem at all – they’d rather egg both powers on, just in order to see what happens and be the first media outlet to report the scoop.
This entire practice is reminiscent of William Randolph Hearst’s Yellow Journalism – a sensationalist method of reporting that ultimately led to the Spanish-American War. Although the war was relatively brief, around 18,000 lives were lost in the dispute – all as a direct result of tabloid newspapers sticking their noses where they didn’t belong.
Will a belligerent advert by The Sun start a world war? It’d be pretty humiliating for mankind if it did; however, the sheer arrogance of The Sun‘s editorial staff has wholeheartedly marginalised the ability of actual politicians to competently go about their jobs. Childish taunts being published in large publications won’t help either side reach their goal, and Westminster and Buenos Aires must work closely together in order to avoid another serious conflict that has the ability to take the lives of domestic and foreign servicemen who probably don’t even give a damn about the Falklands.
With any luck, the islanders will prove The Sun wrong in March by voting not to be a part of Argentina or Britain – although it may take more than luck to assuage the fury that will predictably follow throughout Buenos Aires and Fleet Street. In the meantime, The Sun would do well to stay out of international relations – because, as usual, they’re completely and utterly embarrassing their country.