Falklands War Scare in UK
Cameron Pledges Total Support to Falklands Islanders

Facing Latin American measures to hamper naval traffic to the Falklands, Britain debates the proper response.

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Amiel Ungar,

Falkland Penguins
Falkland Penguins

War scares are running high in Great Britain, while the British Foreign Ministry is trying to cool down tensions with Argentina. At the same time Britain is attempting to demonstrate that it has no intention of abandoning the Falkland Islands claimed by Argentina.

Prime Minister David Cameron, in his broadcast on Saturday, pledged to the Falklanders “We will always maintain our commitment to you on any question of sovereignty …Your right to self-determination is the cornerstone of our policy. We will never negotiate on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless you, the Falkland Islanders, so wish. No democracy could ever do otherwise.”

The growing crescendo is a result of the decision of the Mercosur trading bloc, comprising Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, to refuse docking rights to ships flying the flag of the Falklands.  Lately this threat has been extended to British ships bound for the Falklands.

The issue has caused some hysteria in the British press with the media running diametrically opposed  articles. 

One featured staged pictures of surrendering British troops and painted a dire scenario in which the ill defended Falkland Islands are overrun by Argentina as a result of recent defense cuts made by the British government. The article also pointed out the changes in Washington. In 1982 Ronald Reagan stuck by Britain while currently Barack Obama is in the White House with his anti-colonial approach and has even employed the Argentinian name for the islands - Las Malvinas.

The article claimed the Falklands were much better defended than they were in 1982 when Argentina successfully invaded the islands and had to be dislodged by a British expeditionary force. Argentine forces were ill equipped to establish the necessary air superiority for a landing.

British politics also intruded into the debates. The leftist Guardian printed an op-ed by Richard Got complaining that the British continued to view the issue is settled. It suggested that the British government should take account of changes in Latin America and the solidarity between Latin American states and take steps to open negotiations with Argentina.

The conservative Telegraph took the opposite approach and claimed that what was needed was a show of force. Daniel Hannan, a writer who  lived in Peru at the time of the Falklands War, recalled how Britain's position in Latin America - even in Argentina - actually improved after a successful war. Latin Americans then viewed Britain as a serious country. Currently, it wrote, left-wing nationalism was raising its head in Latin America, including Argentina, and if Britain showed weakness rather than firmness it was inviting trouble.