Here is a pretty good article in the Telegraph, by Nancy Soderberg (who she?), arguing that taxpayers of the UK should not be giving money to Argentina. It is a country that, with hardly a shred of legal or other justification, wishes to claim back territories (the Falkland Islands) that it unsuccessfully attempted to capture 30 years ago by force of arms:
“Argentina, after all, is acting with scant regard for the international community. Over the past decade it has pursued a deliberate strategy of playing games with financial markets. Its default on £51 billion of debt in 2001 turned it into a financial pariah, a status that was not enhanced by two subsequent unilateral debt restructurings. To this day, Argentina remains shut out of the world’s capital markets. To make matters worse, it also nationalised private pension funds, thereby providing itself with a captive domestic market into which it could sell its debt.”
“The government has since been sued by creditors around the world as they try to force Argentina to honour its obligations. In the Southern District Court of New York alone, there have been more than 170 bondholder lawsuits, resulting in more than 100 judgments. Today, Argentina still owes more than £15 billion in old debts ranging from Paris Club loans, to bondholders, and to foreign investors holding arbitral awards from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In each case, Argentina has refused to play by the rules. It has demanded a Paris Club restructuring without the mandatory IMF monitoring, it has ignored New York court judgments, and it has insisted, in blatant disregard of its treaty obligations under ICSID, that arbitral awards be brought to Argentina for “approval” by its own courts.”
Argentina is refusing to let UK-registered vessels enter any of its ports, and has also sought to enlist other Latin American countries in putting the squeeze on the UK. Now of course some of this can be dismissed as “sabre-rattling”, and no doubt, in their quieter moments, many Argentine people who have endured a variety of useless or vicious governments will think that the latest antics of their government are absurd. But it is clear that bullies need to be confronted eventually. The UK government should terminate any aid to Argentina without delay. Indeed, it should terminate aid, full stop, to any country, democratic or otherwise.
One of the things that stuck in my mind when reading the late Christopher Hitchens’ brilliant “Hitch 22″ memoirs was his description of how he felt about the Thatcher administration in confronting the military junta of Argentina in 1982. I think it was Hitchens’ first realisation that his youthful leftism meant he had to take sides with some pretty stupid people, and that he began a long, slow reappraisal of some of his ideas. As the Falklanders no doubt asked themselves in 1982, do we really want to be taken over by this lot?
Of course, it is all about ooooiiilllll!
For a bit of background, here is a reasonably fair account of the history of the Falkland Islands, which have been attached to the UK since the 1830s, an era when Argentina had only begun to exist as an independent nation in its own right.