Britain 'should not expect US help over Falkland Islands'
'Special relationship' with US only goes so far, says Max Hastings
FOLLOWING an extraordinary day that saw an impassioned speech from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War followed by the burning of an effigy of Prince William by a mob outside the British Embassy in Buenos Aires, Max Hastings has written in the Daily Mail that Britain should expect no help from the United States should the situation escalate.
President Kirchner made her speech to a crowd of about 5,000 in Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego province, to which Argentines consider the Falkland Islands belong. She said that it was unjust that a "colonial enclave" exists "just a few kilometres away", adding: "Every day that goes by, it looks more ridiculous, more absurd to the eyes of the world."
Kirchner went on to insist that Britain end its oil exploration in the island's territorial waters, accusing London of "usurping our environment, our natural resources, our oil".
As she spoke, demonstrators in Buenos Aires, including members of the nationalist group Quebracho, threw Molotov cocktails, burned an effigy of Prince William and chanted: "English out of Malvinas!"
The protesters, who came up against baton-wielding riot police and water cannon, claimed they were denouncing the "provocation" of the UK. The Ministry of Defence has said that one of its most advanced warships, the HMS Dauntless, will leave Portsmouth tomorrow on a routine six-month deployment to the islands.
With emotions running high, Max Hastings, who reported on the Falklands War and was at the liberation of Port Stanley in June 1982, warns that Britain should expect no extension of the 'special relationship' with the United States should the situation develop into open conflict.
"Today", Hastings writes, "the Americans have made it plain that we are on our own in the continuing dispute about what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls 'Las Malvinas'. She publicly urges Britain and Argentina to get around a negotiating table." The British Government knows it can expect no help from Washington while fighting its corner in the South Atlantic.
This lack of support should come as no surprise, says Hastings. He says that in 1982 "most of the Reagan administration rooted for the fascist junta in Buenos Aires, which they considered vital to their crusade against the Left in South America".
It was only thanks to US Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger – a passionate Anglophile – "that our task force got critical intelligence and logistical help from America to win the war".
Furthermore, while we should surely look back on the victory in the Falklands with pride, nowadays we could not launch a military operation on anything like the scale of 1982.
"We sent 30,000 men to recover the Falklands", Hastings says. "But when the current defence cuts are complete the army will be able to deploy only a single brigade group of 7,000-8,000 men for sustained operations overseas".
Thirty years after the end of the conflict, Hastings concludes, "the war looks to me like a last triumphant hurrah".