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12/02/2012

La Marche de l'empereur

The re-emergence of the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute between Britain and Argentina is one I've followed with interest. Not because I fear there will be a war but rather, because there is something romantic in the thought of people building a new community in some faraway land. The story of Robinson Crusoe is a favourite of mine, as are the stories of the early European settlers in North America. Though of course this is not to ignore the darker side that often lies beneath these tales of pioneers - Crusoe and his treatment of Man Friday, the European settlers and their treatment of African slaves & the indigenous American peoples.

And maybe that's the case with the Falkland Islands, it's not so easily framed in terms of good and bad. There are clearly much more cynical motives behind the dispute - it is not just an idealistic one of self-determination vs. colonialism. Oil being one of them.

And even on a purely idealistic level I think Dr Ashton, writing for Politics.co.uk, makes some important points about the double standards involved - that both Britain, Argentina and the various Latin American nations now also weighing into the dispute have all failed, and continue to fail, to live up to the banners of freedom and territorial rights that they now fervently wave at one another. And if the UN decides to intervene, then what of lesser-known land disputes? Somaliland being just one of many seemingly straightforward examples, Republika Srpska being another more complicated one.

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