Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Island madness

The Falklands/Malvinas saga is a depressing morass. There seems to be precious little sanity on any side.

--The press on the islands is crazy.

--The situation is so ridiculous that Sean Penn, that noted Latin Americanist, even gets press about it.

--Cristina Fernández wants to score some nationalist points.

--Even Argentine soccer wants a piece of the nationalist pie.

--The British governments is acting insufferably arrogant.

--Along similar lines, the Obama administration's moderate view generates vitriol from British conservatives.

--ALBA helps to ratchet up tension.

--Fidel Castro tries feebly to make a joke about it and ends up sounding incoherent.

--Even Argentines can be confused about whether the islands really belong to them.

--I guess the 500,000 sheep on the islands don't care whether they are British or Argentine, but the situation is so ridiculous that the human inhabitants feel the need to proclaim, "We're not all sheep farmers."

There just doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Control over the Malvinas is part of the Argentine constitution and British control over the Falklands is part of the EU treaties. It is framed as a zero sum game and both governments have staked a major political claim from which they cannot retreat. The two probable outcomes seem to be either armed conflict or figuring out a way to punt the still unresolved issue into the future.

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