Falklands: are we ready for the latest threat from S America?
THE FALKLANDS remain a national obsession in Argentina - more important even than football. Weirdly, for most of Argentina’s history they hardly appeared on the radar. But in the late 1940s the unscrupulous General Juan Peron placed the ‘Islas Malvinas’ at the heart of the history and geography curriculum of every Argentine school. He began the process of brainwashing that culminated in the islands becoming a kind of national G Spot - stimulated by every shady politician and strongman since.
Look at the photographs of the crowds outside the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, on 2 April 1982 as they came to adore President Galtieri, conqueror of the Falklands. Educated, civilised people as well as toughs from the slums of the villas miseria (shanty towns) encircling the city screamed and sang hysterically with glee.
They knew full well that Galtieri was a brutal alcoholic ruling alongside some of the most sinister moustachioed types ever to infest a military junta. They knew that they had killed and tortured thousands to stay in office and that some of their victims were drugged and thrown - while still alive - from aircraft far out to sea.
But still they cheered.
Juntas may have come and gone but the Malvinas syndrome goes on even today under democratic rule. It is as if modern German schoolchildren were still being taught some of the geographical fantasies of the Fuhrer.
David Cameron is right - we do not have to be able to retake the Falkland Islands by force to make our military strategy in the South Atlantic coherent and convincing. The garrison there is probably enough to see off an invasion provided that we get some strategic warning of Argentine military intentions. With extra Eurofighter Typhoons flown in and the despatch of an attack submarine we should be able to keep hold of the islands. No sane British prime minister would risk losing the Falklands… again.
But is the military threat the one we should be concentrating on? Are we falling into that classic military trap of fighting the last war?