Free Markets, Free People

Diplomacy for Dummies (Update)

Surely there’s one of the famous self-help series by that name.  If so, could someone do us all a favor and send copies to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Argentina was celebrating a diplomatic coup yesterday in its attempt to force Britain to accept talks on the future of the Falkland Islands, after a two-hour meeting in Buenos Aires between Hillary Clinton and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Responding to a request from Mrs Kirchner for “friendly mediation” between Britain and Argentina, Mrs Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she agreed that talks were a sensible way forward and offered “to encourage both countries to sit down”.

Uh, sit down for what? Britain claimed the Falklands in 1833 after British settlers settled there during the decade. The islands lay 300 miles off the Argentine coast. In 1982, it had to fend off an attack by Argentina in a bid to take them over. Now 3 British oil companies plan to put an offshore oil rig 100 miles north of the islands.

Somehow Argentina, who should have gotten the message in 1982, is still under the mistaken impression it has some say over what goes on there:

“What they are doing is illegitimate,” said Jorge Taiana, the foreign minister. “It’s a violation of our sovereignty. We will do everything possible to defend and preserve our rights.”

Riiiight. Like they did in ’82. Look, internationally, this is pretty much settled business. Other than Argentina, no one questions which country has sovereign control in the Falklands. And certainly not those who lives there. The 3,000 island dwellers all consider themselves, and have always considered themselves, a part of the British Commonwealth.

Territorial waters, as defined by 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea extend 12 miles. Then there is a 12 mile “contiguous zone” in which a state has limited powers. A state also enjoys a 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” which includes “control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, oil exploration, and any pollution of those resources.” That zone includes the territorial and contiguous zone as well.

As the cite points out:

Before 1982, coastal nations arbitrarily extended their territorial waters in an effort to control activities which are now regulated by the exclusive economic zone, such as offshore oil exploration or fishing rights (see Cod Wars). Indeed, the exclusive economic zone is still popularly, though erroneously, called a coastal nation’s territorial waters.

With the Falklands being 300 miles off the coast and the rig a 100 miles north of the islands, there is obviously nothing to the dubious claim of Argentine sovereignty (again remember, other than claim the islands, Argentina never settled them or has occupied them).

Enter Hillary Clinton – someone whose job it is to know all of this.

Her intervention defied Britain’s longstanding position that there should be no negotiations unless the islands’ 3,000 inhabitants asked for them. It was hailed in Buenos Aires as a major diplomatic victory, but condemned in the Falklands.

Britain insisted there was no need for mediation as long as the islanders wanted to remain British. “We don’t think that’s necessary,” a Downing Street spokesman said.


She gave no sign of backing the British position on negotiations, saying instead: “We would like to see Argentina and the UK sit down and resolve the issues between them in a peaceful and productive way. We want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. We cannot make either one do so. We think it is the right way to proceed, so we will be saying this publicly.”

Simply amazing. Our longest standing ally thrown under the bus to solicit warm fuzzies in South America that, as have been proven with others like Hugo Chavez, have the half-life of a Mayfly.

There will be a price to pay in the future for this as anyone who has watched international relations for any time knows.  Britain will extract a pound of flesh.  In the meantime, other than empty words meant to please those who will remain deeply skeptical of the US, all that’s been accomplished is the abandonment of an ally.  Essentially all Clinton has done is give false hope to Argentina and royally pissed off a solid ally.

Too bad the book in question isn’t available for Ms. Clinton.  And apparently she’s also forgotten the old saying about “remaining silent and being thought a fool rather than speaking out and removing all doubt.”

UPDATE:  Ralph Peters provides the back story.



22 Responses to Diplomacy for Dummies (Update)

  • I’m sure Ott Scerb will enlighten us as to how this is REAL diplomacy and that we ‘dense righties’ just don’t get it.

  • I understand her attempt to avoid taking a position on an issue, but sometimes not taking a position is worse. To quote April Glaspie, former ambassador to the former Sadaam Hussein,  “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait…”.

    Another quote; “Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it”.

    • It would have been understandable if she’d actually not taken a position.  But her inexperience and ignorance of the issue turned her attempt at “it’s not our business” into a direct slap at the UK.  Had she been properly prepared, she would’ve understood that her statements about wanting everyone to sit down and negotiate would be seen as taking the Argentine side in the matter.  It’s so sloppy and amateurish, it’s a real embarrassment to the USA.  This is the administration that claims to be improving our standing in the world???

  • Well not really a surprise.  Back when her husband was running the show, the Dems were a mix of inept and gutless in their foreign policy.  They routinely pissed of long time friends like Japan in order to cozy up to China for instance.

  • Perhaps Imeme and his group of idiots are merely bowing to the inevitable: if Argentina grabs the Falklands again, the Brits can / will do nothing about it other than b*tch to the UN.  Consider:

    1.  The Brits are as bankrupt as we are from trying to pay for their huge, inefficient nanny-state.  Where will they get the money to defend the islands?

    2.  Thanks to decades of not having to pay for defense against the Soviets, the British armed forces are in sad shape.

    3.  The Brits demonstrated that they’ll take anything anybody cares to dish out when the Iranians grabbed some of their sailors a couple of years ago.  What was the phrase: “fighting back was simply not an option”?  BOHICA, John Bull…

    4.  The Brits are lead by an administration even more liberal and feckless than our own.

    5.  The Brits doubtless understand that, not only will Uncle Sugar NOT back them up, they’ll be lucky if Imeme doesn’t order our Navy to shoot at any RN ships that show up near the Falklands Malvinas.  O’ course, he’ll blame Bush afterward…

    I’m really embarrassed by all of this.  I’m not saying that we should fight Britain’s fight for her, but we at the very least shouldn’t betray them in this odious fashion.

    • Unlike in 1982, England now have IIRC 4 generation 4.5 fighters stationed on the islands–sufficient to destroy the entire Agrie airforce which is mostly relics that survived the last go around.

      The Brits have a radar station on the island now.

      They have at least several hundered Royal Marines.

      They have frigates and subs on station.

      This time, the Brits are ready. Argentina, by contrast, was better off in ’82 when it had American trained A-4 pilots, etc., in place because of the Cold War.

      Much of the Argie success in ’82 (their air force sinking Brit ships) is countered by the fighters and radar, and the fact that modern Brit warships are equiped with the likes of Seawiz (R2D2 with a hardon). In ’82, Brit antiair defense was Russian centric and missle based, with little defense from close in low level attacks. That’s no longer the case.

      The civilians there are also well armed.

      I don’t know if Britian could send the force it did in ’82, or if it even could, but the forces on hand should be able to handle the threat.

      • Interesting information.  Thank you.

      • I had to google this “Seawiz” thing.    Oh. my. god.   I want one.
        That would keep those damn kids off my lawn!

      • Several other points. In ’82, the Argentines were well aware of the weakness in the defense of the British ships. IIRC, they even had several Brit destroyers of their own at the time. They knew “in fast and low” was the key to success.

        The Argies would come in over the islands, and get “lost” in the radar clutter. They can’t do that now, because of the radar station, and because of the gen 4.5 fighters who have superb radar of their own. And if they did close the gap, they would then have to deal with much better close in defense on any Brit ships.

        In ’82 it was the Argie navy that pushed for war. They had a military junta in charge, and the navy was pushing for war, the air force opposed, and the army in between. Ironically it ended up that the most effective force facing the Brits was the air force, who didn’t want the war. After losing an old American battlecrusier to submarine attack, the navy only launched some air attacks and was mostly out of it (although some of those attacks were successful due to French Esocet missles). The Argie american trained airforce pilots pressed their attacks with great courage, dropping dumb bombs at close range. Many of their bombs did not dentonate, and that made a big difference. There are claims that the American advisors did not teach the Argies how to arm the bombs properly, or even deactivated them (I would be surprised if they had the access required for deactivating them).

  • Bruce,

    It is false to say that the Argies didn’t colonize the islands. In fact, they had a small colony that made the mistake of siezing a US fishing vessel. A US frigate responded, destoying the one town of significance. Most of the Argies left.

    The Brits send some ships in to take advantage of the situation. When the Brits got there, the Argies were back, and IIRC were trying to start a penal colony. Faced with HMS ships, the Argies departed.

    Prior to the Argie colony there was IIRC a French colony and English colony on seperate islands. The French essentially turned their colony over to the Argies.

    In the 60s and 70s, the islands were an embarresment to British foreign policy, and they wanted to hand them over to the Argies. The sticking point was the people on the islands, who did not wish to fall under Argie rule. The Brits were making some slow headway convincing the islanders that Argie rule was the way of the future, when the Argie invasion took place and provided a hard reset.

    • OK, fair enough – then I suppose it is to the point of possession being 9 points of the law-that and the fact that those living there want nothing to do with Argentina. How about we let them decide?

      • Well, the other thing is that the Brits had claims the predate Argentine independence. The Argies of course make the argument that Spains claims transfer to them.

        Personally, what claims anyone has that are some hundred years old don’t interest me. I own land that previously belonged to Mexico, and before that Spain, and before that indians. It’s mine now.

        If the islands were unihabited, perhaps poring over history books for early claims would be key, but now it seems to me that the people who live there should decide. So I agree with you, I was just pointing out that the Argies did have a colony. If they haden’t siezed that US vessel, perhaps they would still own it now. That’s what I think the SoS should have told ’em.

        • “It’s mine now”

          Not according to the Supreme Court. You only have possession of it until the government thinks someone else will pay them more for it.

          • Well, yeah. And I’m still paying “rent” on land that my grandfather got back in the 1890s. But I can pretend, right?

      • Oh, you mean like we did in Honduras?  /face palm/

    • Plus they sold fishery rights and found oil, so all of a sudden the Falklands were no longer some failing, expensive island colonies.

      • The oil find was recent, as I understand it, but not surprising either.

        In ’82, the Brit Foreign Office would have been happy to divest Britian of the islands. If Argentina hadn’t acted like teenage bullies, most likely the islands would have been theirs for the past decade or two.

  • Brazil rebuffs US, says it will go own way on Iran
    Yahoo News….how’s that smart diplomacy working?

    • This is just further sign of the respect the world has for us now that we dumped George W. Bush.  Isn’t it great, thank God we elected a well groomed, articulate Teleprompter reader.

  • Maybe the Administration’s next move will be to threaten to break off diplomatic relations until the Brits restore John Major to office. Or Clement Attlee.
    Hillary and Obama are imbeciles. They don’t even know how to pretend to be adults. Can we drop all that mythology now about Hillary as a Machiavellian mastermind? She’s barely got brains enough to feed herself.