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Old 02-12-2012   #1
Bill Moore
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Default Will the UK lose the Falklands?

Provided a series of posts on the current political rift with between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands. It appears that the UK has few friends in Latin America, and if this escalates to a conflict may in fact find themselves facing a coalition of Latin American nations, which will put the U.S. in an ackward position to say the least. One would hope the diplomats will work this out, but the rapid escalation of tensions may have put both nations in a position where compromise is politically infeasible.

http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/a...egional-access

War 'unlikely' in Falklands, but UK could lose regional access

Quote:
The Falklands have been at the centre of a territorial dispute between Argentina and Britain that dates back to the 19th century. Nevertheless, the feud has been reinvigorated following recent UK oil exploration. In particular, the announcement last month by UK-based company Rockhopper Exploration that it may have discovered significant oil reserves in the North Falklands Basin have heightened tensions and highlighted the potential geopolitical risks involved in the search for fossil fuels. This comes after Rockhopper unveiled plans last year for a $2bn project to transform the islands into a major oil production hub. An announcement, which sparked further accusations from Argentinian officials that Britain has taken Argentine resources from the Islands and the waters surrounding them.
Quote:
While it is highly unlikely that the current dispute will lead to armed conflict, Argentina's continued ability to mobilise regional sympathy over the Falklands debate may result in the UK being further denied a level of access within the region that it once took for granted. This may include constraining Britain's ability to promote British business in the region, or denying military ships access to key Latin American ports - as happened in September 2010. Then, the Uruguayan authorities prevented HMS Gloucester from docking in Montevideo and, in January 2011, when Brazil refused permission for HMS Clyde to dock in Rio de Janeiro. Argentina could also seek to end the last commercial aviation link between the Falklands and Chile. As Argentina strengthens its relations throughout Latin America and as the region continues to support current integration efforts - the UK could, therefore, find itself becoming increasingly isolated as tensions over the dispute continue to escalate. Perhaps, the biggest game-changer in this debate rests then with the answer to the following question: just how far are other Latin American countries prepared to go to support Argentina's territorial claims to the Falklands?

Last edited by Bill Moore; 02-12-2012 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 02-12-2012   #2
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http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/...927175500.html

What underlies the Falklands dispute?

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"There are three elements that are very sensitive. First is the anniversary of the war, then we have the increment of the military British presence in the disputed area and finally the thorny issue of oil exploitation by the British in a unilateral manner which is not compatible with the UN resolution."

- Fernando Petrella, a former Argentinian envoy to the UN
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...Falklands.html

Quote:
Hugo Chavez says Venezuelan troops would fight with Argentina over Falklands

Hugo Chavez has pledged that Venezuelan armed forces would fight alongside Argentina against Britain in any future conflict over the Falkland Islands at a regional meeting this weekend.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-ceremony.html

Quote:
Argentine president Cristina Kirchner hosting Falklands ceremony

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner invited Falklands War veterans and opposition leaders to a ceremony on Tuesday amid renewed tensions with London ahead of the 30-year anniversary of a conflict over the archipelago.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...arisation.html


Mr Castro, the 85-year-old said, who gave a ranting two-hour broadcast to launch his memoirs this week, made fun of the Royal Navy in his speech:
Quote:
Somewhere is the English ship sailing to the Falklands but the English only have one little boat left...The only ones who have aircraft carriers are the Yankees. All the English can do is send over a destroyer, they can't even send an aircraft carrier.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...n-Ki-moon.html

Quote:
UK and Argentina must stop 'escalating' conflict over Falklands, says Ban Ki-moon
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...Falklands.html

Quote:
UK accused of deploying nuclear weapons near the Falklands

In an increasingly tense war of words, Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timberman claims the UK is deploying nuclear weapons near the Falkland Islands
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...-windfall.html

Quote:
Falklands oilfields could yield $176bn tax windfall

The Falkland Islands stand to benefit from an enormous $176bn (£111.7bn) tax windfall from oil and gas exploration, according to a major new report.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-12-2012 at 08:29 PM. Reason: Fix Castro quote
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Old 02-12-2012   #3
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Mr. Chavez and Mr. Castro should be more more aware of the capabilities of nuclear submarines. Or at least Mr. Chavez. I suspect Mr. Castro already knows and is having his bit of fun.
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Old 02-13-2012   #4
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It is probably worth remembering that the Argentines have taken even deeper defence cuts than the UK (they spend about 0.9% of GNP on defence, one of the lowest in Latin America), and have undergone virtually no modernization (and no replacements) since 1982.

This is all largely political bluster, in my humble opinion.
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Old 02-13-2012   #5
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Quote:
This is all largely political bluster, in my humble opinion.
Perhaps and hopefully so, but bluster can sometimes lead to dumb actions that escalate rapidly. The main point of my posts was will the UK lose the Falklands, and losing the Falklands is not limited to war. If they face enough pressure from the UN and Latin American nations circle the wagons to support Argentina will they have enough political and economic clout to convince the UK to leave or at least modify their position? The UK left Hong Kong without a fight.

Posted by Carl,

Quote:
Mr. Chavez and Mr. Castro should be more more aware of the capabilities of nuclear submarines. Or at least Mr. Chavez. I suspect Mr. Castro already knows and is having his bit of fun
.

What useful capabilities would those be for mitigating this potential conflict? Safe bet the UK won't use nukes to maintain a territory, but I guess they can sink a few Argentinian Naval vessels if the need arised, still not convinced it is much of deterrent against Argentina's strategy.
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Old 02-13-2012   #6
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Bill:

The Argentine Navy most likely has zero capability to hunt down and destroy a Royal Navy nuke attack boat. Those boats can kill what surface ships they will as they please. The Argentines could not supply a force on the Falklands but by air. I don't know if they have the capability to do that but even if they do it would be very expensive. That is the first thing.

If the British chose to view any military attempt on the Falklands as an old fashioned act of war, they might then blockade or quarantine, or whatever the legal term is, Argentina. They would have the physical capability to shut down seaborne trade to Argentina. They wouldn't even have to sink anything, just announce that they would and no commercial ship would chance it. I don't know the legalities but they could do as they pleased to Argentine maritime trade and there is nothing that could stop them.

Lastly some of those attack boats carry Tomahawks and they could shoot up various targets in Argentina where and when they chose.

As long as the Royal Navy has those subs, and the Argentine Navy has no way to sink them, the British control Argentina's access to the ocean. Whether Great Britain would play that hard, I don't know, but they have the capability if they want to use it.

The British did leave Hong Kong. But there they were up against China on the other side of the world, not Argentina in the South Atlantic.
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Last edited by carl; 02-13-2012 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 02-13-2012   #7
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One of the best tours I ever did was in the Falklands. Beautiful place and professionally a great place to learn 'Jointery'.

I would agree with Rex Brynen that Argentina has very limited military means to take and then hold the Falklands. I would assess that the Falklands are vulnerable to a coup de main type operation, but thereafter it is difficult to see how things would progress. The UK has all but neutered it's amphibious capability, whereas with the current UK capability in the South Atlantic (even with or without the presence of SSNs) the Argentinians would find it very difficult to reinforce and resupply any garrison.

Currently Kirchner appears to be whipping up the hysteria for domestic political reasons, not least to distract attention from the dire state of the economy (as an aside it is interesting to note that the Kirchners were not very rich before they went into politics, but are exceedingly rich now ). The issue will undoubtedly boil down to oil and gas.

If commercially exploitable reserves of oil and gas are found within the Falklands Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) then this may make a war worth fighting for from an Argentianian perspective, especially if the effort becomes pan-South American. A 'good war' by a popular alliance of South American nations against what is widely perceived as a colonial power with the prospect of a share of significant oil and gas revenues at the end would be an attractive proposition. The UK has limited clout in South America, in trading, financial and military terms she is now a middle weight power. Any pan-South American consensus on the Falklands issue would be difficult for the UK to counter and would place the US in an awkward position.

I cannot help but think however that the Argentinians are going about this the wrong way. If they encouraged trade and cultural ties with the Falklands they are more likely to bring the Falklands Islanders on to a negotiating stance in a generation or two. As it is since the 1982 invasion the Falkland Islanders have become culturally much closer with the UK and more distinct from South America.
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Old 02-13-2012   #8
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Major caveat to the following "analysis"/guesswork - I am absolutely NOT a LatAm expert, don't speak Spanish (I'm conversant in British), and have never even been south of Mexico/Caribbean.

Argentina has long claimed/pursued the Falklands, both pre and post '82. The possibility of oil makes it somewhat more interesting, but the occasional noise from the Argentinians about this isn't really new.

In 2010 the US changed policy (sort-of) re the Falklands (territory of our closest ally) -

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/ni...the-falklands/

That was the Daily Telegraph, but even the Economist was torqued -

http://www.economist.com/blogs/bageh...0/03/falklands

We (the US) were "rewarded", within just a few months of providing what must have been a significant diplomatic coup for the Argentinians, with this -

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...googlenews_wsj

Foreign Minister Timerman was reported to have provided on site supervision.

Though they eventually, and unsurprisingly, sort of backed down -

http://en.mercopress.com/2011/06/16/...military-plane

Foreign Minister Timerman is still around -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...Falklands.html

All of that adds up to, right or wrong, that this is just how the Argentinian govt, at least this one, does business. Plan accordingly.

This will probably calm down at some point (though the president was reelected in 2011, so it's, presumably, not that). As Bill Moore notes, there's always the chance of an accident/miscalculation, so increased tension is unfortunate from that standpoint, but the fact the Falkland Islands are, well, islands (more than a couple of hundred miles offshore, at that), should help mitigate that. And the military balance isn't in question. As others have noted, one SSN, if you're willing to use it, turns it into game over. The AAW destroyer is helpful as well.

Ultimately, whatever the public rhetoric, I doubt a regional power like Brazil or anyone else that matters really wants significant drama over this. Additionally, I suspect there are a lot of ways to quietly twist arms with a country like Argentina, with an economy that's still shaky in some ways since the default of a few years ago. Finally, the UK has horses to trade in the first world, with the EU in flux and lots of other stuff going on.
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Old 02-13-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
I cannot help but think however that the Argentinians are going about this the wrong way. If they encouraged trade and cultural ties with the Falklands they are more likely to bring the Falklands Islanders on to a negotiating stance in a generation or two. As it is since the 1982 invasion the Falkland Islanders have become culturally much closer with the UK and more distinct from South America.
Strongly agree - make yourself into a place that the Falklanders wouldn't mind being a part of or associated with. Down the road, if the UK citizens living in the Falklands wanted to shift from the UK to Argentina, I suspect that London would oblige them. Oil or not, Whitehall probably doesn't love having to deal with this issue. But they're being forced to stick up for their citizens and, quite rightly, doing so.
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Old 02-13-2012   #10
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Default A few points to consider and a "handbag"

There are many points that can be made over this diplomatic tussle. So not in order of priority.

What is puzzling is that it appears the UK made no preparations for the anniversary of the 1982 Falklands War and any upsurge in Argentinian action or rhetoric. A 'routine' six week tour of duty by Prince William, on SAR duties, is at least questionable, if not provocative and probably only appreciated by the Falkland Islanders.

The BBC reported more concern over the lack of food supplies, which appears to be due to Argentinian diplomacy curtailing trade links:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16980747

In 1982 Argentina was able to conduct Hercules flights to the Falklands even after hostilities had started.

Secondly a German-made submarine caused the RN a "headache" as it was never located and was known to be on patrol. They now have three such modern submarines. The UK had several SSNs then deployed.

Like others I hope Argentina has excluded using her limited, high risk military options.

Her diplomacy before this tussle was successful in restricting trade with the Falklands, even Chile was wavering (traditionally not on good terms with Argentina). Cutting off Falkland Islanders links with Argentina is and was a mistake, such as oil supplies, medical, fruit & veg etc.

The discovery of oil & gas is a hardy perennial, announcements made and little happens. I expect exploitation costs are prohibitive, IIRC due to being in deep water and so far from any friendly industrial support.

There's also a personal factor. I doubt that any UK politician will change the existing policy until Mrs Thatcher is buried, her "handbag" lives on!

So, returning to the question: Will the UK lose the Falklands?

No. The overall price was high - after 1982 - and is now small. Military reinforcement can be done easily and with a SSN hidden from sight.
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Old 02-13-2012   #11
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The Falklands scare is being used for budget reasons; the RN faces budget challenges, and fights for its carrier and naval aviation which are in peril not the least because of F-35 delays and general cost inefficiency.
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Old 02-13-2012   #12
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Default Budgets cause peril?

Fuchs:
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..the RN faces budget challenges, and fights for its carrier and naval aviation which are in peril..
Yes, the RN faces budget challenges. The RN currently has no carriers, two are being built, there are no aircraft envisaged as being in place to fly from them and currently has only helicopters (many in Afg.), with no fixed wing combat aircraft.

Given the investment in the airbase on the Falklands, with SAMs, hardened aircraft shelters and air defence radar - it is the RAF to the fore. Reinforcing the RAF presence, with fighters, AWACS etc maybe a nuisance to them, but can be done.
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Old 02-13-2012   #13
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david, I meant this in a bigger context.

It's a boogeyman. The largely irrelevant Falklands and their mythical 30-years old "we will soon produce oil there, but don't yet" symptom are being used to keep the militaryspending up.

It's a ridiculous Warsaw Pact surrogate now that the Arabs aren't the boogeyman of the day any more.


I have no respect for people who fall for such primitive scaremongering.
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Old 02-15-2012   #14
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It does seem good timing as far as the RN are concerned, they've been hit hardest by SDSR. I can't see this rumbling on long enough for spending to be upped or the speed with which the two new carriers are finished.

I can't see it coming to a military conflict though, not in this day and age. If it did reckon we'd see Article 5 being invoked? We can but hope.
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Old 02-15-2012   #15
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Originally Posted by TDB View Post
It does seem good timing as far as the RN are concerned, they've been hit hardest by SDSR. I can't see this rumbling on long enough for spending to be upped or the speed with which the two new carriers are finished.

I can't see it coming to a military conflict though, not in this day and age. If it did reckon we'd see Article 5 being invoked? We can but hope.
Article 5 does not cover that place of Earth. It's about Europe and NA.

The Lisbon treaty might apply, though; that depends on definitions (see comments here).
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Old 02-15-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
It's a boogeyman. The largely irrelevant Falklands and their mythical 30-years old "we will soon produce oil there, but don't yet" symptom are being used to keep the militaryspending up.

It's a ridiculous Warsaw Pact surrogate now that the Arabs aren't the boogeyman of the day any more.


I have no respect for people who fall for such primitive scaremongering.
In that case, you have to admit this is quite an accomplishment for British diplomats, getting Kirchner to blow this up so their colleagues in the military could press for budget increases.

Actually, I think Red Rat has it mostly right. Kirchner has manufactured a crisis partly because the domestic situation in Argentina is almost Grecian. But I also think her government's major purpose is using this as a lever to pry some concessions out of the UK regarding exploitation of the oil.

Regardless, as a Bolivaran in good standing she was guaranteed the diplomatic support of Columbia, Brazil and Cuba. I doubt they'd back her to the point of armed conflict.
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Old 02-16-2012   #17
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Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
Regardless, as a Bolivaran in good standing she was guaranteed the diplomatic support of Columbia, Brazil and Cuba. I doubt they'd back her to the point of armed conflict.
Since the Columbian government is tied up dealing with a decades–long insurgency and the Cuban government is tied up dealing with a neighbor whose stated policy is regime change and who also happens to be the most powerful nation in the history of the world I think we can be pretty sure that those two aren’t going to go to blows for Argentina. And I believe that the Brazilians would rather not have their carrier destroyed by the Brits. But you know who Kirchner can count on? Sean Penn.
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Old 02-16-2012   #18
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ganulv:

That was an almost perfectly constructed paragraph and I laughed like hell at the end.
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Old 02-16-2012   #19
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Ganulv:
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But you know who Kirchner can count on? Sean Penn.
Ah, we still have 'The Handbag' in reserve and SSN(s).
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Old 02-16-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
Since the Columbian government is tied up dealing with a decadesĖlong insurgency and the Cuban government is tied up dealing with a neighbor whose stated policy is regime change and who also happens to be the most powerful nation in the history of the world I think we can be pretty sure that those two arenít going to go to blows for Argentina. And I believe that the Brazilians would rather not have their carrier destroyed by the Brits. But you know who Kirchner can count on? Sean Penn.
I got a laugh as well.

Unfortunately, I suffered a brain f--- when I wrote the post. I meant "Venezuela, Brazil and Cuba."

Next thing you know, I'll start to get crotchety.
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