In today's Independent Joan Smith worries about a lack of debate in this country on the Falklands. I hadn't especially noticed this lack, but as I'm puzzled by a number of Joan's points, I'll do what I can to boost the amount of debate there is. Joan writes:
Argentina is no longer a military dictatorship. General Galtieri is long gone and the country's current leader, Cristina Kirchner, is a popular president who's won two elections.
As welcome as it is that Galtieri's regime is no more, this doesn't by itself go any way towards establishing Argentina's claim to the Falklands and neither does Cristina Kirchner's popularity. Her question at the UN, as quoted by Joan - 'Can someone in the modern world deny that possibility [i.e., talks with Britain over sovereignty of the islands] and say they are leaders of the civilised world and defenders of human rights?" - is answerable by a simple affirmative without either any irony or failure of logic. Unless one thinks Argentina has some reasonable claim to sovereignty over the Falklands, declining to talk about that with its representatives has no bearing on a person's, or a country's, regard for civilization or human rights.
Joan also writes:
I know the islanders insist on their British identity but they've chosen to live on the other side of the world and I don't think they can reasonably expect a blank cheque from British governments for ever.
At a time of economic hardship, when so many are struggling, shouldn't we be talking about the cost of defending these faraway islands – and the alternatives?
The '[having] chosen to live on the other side of the world' thing strikes me as especially strange. The vast majority of the population of Argentina is of European descent, so (if these are the terms one is going to use) it's not just the Falklanders who have made the choice in question. The possible implication here that the Falklands are a product of imperialism/colonialism while Argentina itself isn't makes no sense. As to the cost to Britain of defending the Falklands, there wouldn't be any cost if there weren't any perceived threat to the self-determination of the islanders.
Finally, Joan wonders when the debate on the Falklands 'will be opened to the rest of us'; she means the rest of us in Britain, and not just the Falkland islanders. But we are already free to debate this, as Joan's column and this blogpost illustrate.