Depending on who interprets it, history can be a murky topic, but it does provide pointers to why things are as they are, which can have a direct bearing on law – particularly international law.
Such is the case of who has rightful claim to the Falkland Islands, whose flag proudly flies over 10 Downing Street today, marking the 30th anniversary of Britain’s defeat of Argentina, after their back-stabbing invasion of the archipeligo.
The tribute has certainly got the knickers of Argentina’s feisty president, Cristina Kirchner in a twist. Which is why she’s huffed off to the UN Committee on Decolonisation – as if they could even decide which day of the week it was – screaming abuse at what she perceives to be Britain’s obduracy in not agreeing to ‘negotiate’ the islands’ future away to Argentina and entirely against the wishes of their 3,140 inhabitants.
For good measure, Kirchner – who ‘inherited’ the presidency after her husband, Nestor – took a sideswipe at the UK’s roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, ‘They will not find us there.’ Amen to that, I say, and gracias.
In a final stab, she added, ‘We are just asking to sit down at a table to talk. Can someone in the modern world deny that possibility and say they are leaders of the civilised world and defenders of human rights. No, the truth is one cannot do both.’
Funny the nubile Cristina should bring up the tetchy subject of human rights, which Argentina hasn’t exactly – er, how shall I put it politely? – excelled at, not even under her democratic veneer.
For instance: who was it who cracked down like a sledgehammer on Press freedom, purloined private pensions to prop up the bankrupt state sector, refuses to do a jot about unequal income distribution, recently siezed YPF – the local arm of Spanish energy giant, Repsol – and whose country has one of the highest levels corruption (see Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011)?
So, come on, Hissy Crissy, fess up.
However, to be fair to Kirchner, she’s a comparative paragon of virtue by the appalling standards of previous Argentinian rulers, many of whom had an unhealthy predisposition towards fascist dictatorship.
Such was the case with President Leopoldo Galtieri, who ordered his troops to attack the near-defenceless Falklands on April 2, 1982, thus igniting a war that cost the lives of 649 of his countrymen, along with 255 British military personnel and three islanders.
Finally, let’s return to the beginning and the rudiments of the historical record.
Argentina wasn’t constituted a unified nation until 1862 – 22 years after Britain declared the Falklands a colony, though Argentina had used the islands briefly as a prison in 1832.
Hence, Kirchner might well be advised to consult the history books, before she spits more venom at Britain. And what might catch her jaundiced eye is the offer by the UK to resolve the Falklands’ issue by letting the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, decide in 1947. She might also note Argentina turned the idea down flat.
So why is Hissy Crissy now so vocal about ‘negotiating’ the transfer of the Falklands to Argentina and renaming it Islas Malvinas?
There’s virtually no historical precedent, despite the islands’ geographical location (which is much the same as the Channel Islands’ juxtaposition to France and the Isle of Man’s to Ireland).
So could it be somehow, however remotely, linked to oil exploration in the Falklands’ waters, whose result are believed to show there’s enough black gold down there to keep an armada of Ford Fiestas full tanked for the next billion years?
That’s just a wild guess, of course.