Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s, ahem, colourful President, is up to her old tricks again – asserting her country’s claim to the Falklands by placing an advert in the Guardian (where else?).
It is easy to laugh at this latest stunt, but Kirchner’s campaign is raising the profile of the Falklands dispute and encouraging commentators in other countries to regard it as an unresolved rather than a settled matter.
One example is an article by Steve Hanke on the Cato Institute website. Based in Washington, the Cato Institute is America’s leading libertarian think tank – and a major influence on the Republican Party. It is unclear whether Hanke’s argument on the Falklands is taken seriously in US foreign policy circles, but it certainly provides an insight into the libertarian mindset:
Leaving aside Hanke’s overblown fears of a “new war” (and his description of the Falklanders as “settlers”) his proposal for a referendum is entirely reasonable – indeed the Falklands government is planning to hold a referendum in March of this year. However, Hanke proposes a bizarre libertarian twist on the idea:
One hardly knows where to begin when presented with this kind of market fundamentalism. One could ask whether the British government would be allowed put in a counter-offer – or indeed any other government. And what about the families of the 255 British servicemen who were killed during the Falklands war, how much would they get? But by asking such questions, we engage with the underlying argument instead of what we should do – which is reject it as fundamentally flawed.
Though Hanke is good enough to recognise that the Falklanders are “English [he means British] by custom, institutions and loyalties” he appears to view such loyalty as a commodity, one that can be traded like pork bellies and coffee beans.
Well, that’s all very libertarian – but, for conservatives, some things just aren’t for sale.