Monday, February 25, 2013

Global Impact: Secretary of State John Kerry Says the US Will Not Take Sides Re: Sovereignty of Falklands

According to EFE, US Secretary of State John Kerry, on his first foreign visit abroad as the US' top diplomat, said in London earlier today that the US government will not take sides in the dispute between Britain and Argentina over sovereignty in the Falkland Islands.

“First of all, I’m not going to comment, nor is the president (Barack Obama), on a referendum that has yet to take place,” the secretary said when asked whether the world was bound to respect the Falklanders’ opinion as expressed in a vote set for next month," Kerry was quoted as saying.

“Our position on the Falklands has not changed. The United States recognizes de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the question of parties’ sovereignty claims thereto,” Kerry said after talks in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague.

COMMENT: No doubt, Secretary Kerry's words were well-chosen while in London, avoiding siding with either the UK or Argentina, despite Argentina's recent nationalization of Spanish-owned companies, which continues to prompt a rife between Argentina and Spain, not to mention extensive protectionist strategies outside of the MERCOSUR trade bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela; with Bolivia becoming an accessing member on December 7, 2012.

As is well known, the Falklands War between Argentina and the UK ensued for a period of 74 days after Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Islands and South Georgia only to be retaken by British forces, resulting in an Argentine surrender on June 14, 1982. During the conflict, 649 Argentine forces, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders were killed.

Interestingly, at the outset of the conflict between the UK and Argentina, the US was concerned by the prospect of Argentina turning to the Soviet Union for support, and initially tried to mediate an end to the conflict. Yet, when Argentina refused US peace overtures, then US Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the United States would prohibit arms sales to Argentina and provide material support for British operations. Both Houses of the US Congress passed resolutions supporting the US action siding with the United Kingdom.

How quickly US foreign policy objectives can change with the passage of years, even for two of the West's closest allies.