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Argentina

Falklands: Argentina Needs To Give Some Ground -- Or Get A Better Army

Op-Ed: In its renewed push for sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, Argentina is making some major waves three decades after its disastrous 1982 invasion of the British territory. But if it wants something, Buenos Aires must offer benefits -- or be prep

A Falklands War memorial in Argentina (Benjamin Dumas)
A Falklands War memorial in Argentina (Benjamin Dumas)
Marcos Prats*

SANTIAGO -- Argentina has been busy of late trying to attract allies to its cause. So far its tactical moves have had some success, as evidenced by the U.N."s offer to act as mediator in its long-running standoff with England over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).

The situation right now is in an initial or "positional" stage, with both sides still focusing on their competing visions, rather than on their interests.

For the United Kingdom, the best alternative to a negotiated settlement is the status quo – because in the end, England can actually live with this war of words. If Argentina instead cannot accept the status quo, as it has made clear, then it doesn't have an alternative except to negotiate. That, in turn, will mean ceding some ground.

In the business world, if you don't want to negotiate, you need a good lawyer. When it comes to territorial conflicts, if you don't want to negotiate you need a good army.

If Argentina wants the UK to agree to negotiations, it needs to take actions that diminish the value of the status quo. Otherwise the British have no incentive to budge. Argentina could, for example, sell its sovereignty cause to Falkland islanders by offering them special and very favorable conditions but without demanding that they renounce their British citizenship.

Another possibility is to offer the British economic compensation, guarantee British firms favorable access to the islands' resources of oil and fish, or provide special benefits for the English victims of the 1982 war. In other words, Argentina needs to give the UK something it can use as a precedent for its dealings with other British colonies.

Simply put, if Argentina really wants to have sovereignty over the Falklands, it must be willing to give something up – or pay. If it won't yield at all, then it's going to need a better army.

Either way, all indications suggest that Argentina's current maneuverings amount to little more than a fancy light show – a way to drum up support for the government, not a genuine intention to negotiate.

Read the original story in Spanish

photo - Benjamin Dumas

*Marcos Prats is a Chilean-based business executive who currently heads the Santiago office of Falcon Management Partners

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