So this is what game theorists were talking about when they coined the term “tit-for-tat.” In response to Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner publishing an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron in two major British newspapers, calling for the Falkland Islands to be returned to Argentina, Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid newspaper has returned fire. The Sun has hit back in similar style.
The Sun‘s response Friday appeared in the English language Buenos Aires Herald in both English and Spanish. The ad spot, expected to be read by a circulation of roughly 50,000, instructed the Argentinians to keep their “hands off” the Falklands, the island chain in the very South Atlantic near Antarctica, which the two countries fought over 30 years ago. The paper dismissed the claim made by Fernández that the Falklands were “forcibly stripped” from Argentina:
Claims that 180 years ago Argentina was ‘stripped’ of the Falkland Islands are unfounded. No Argentinian civilian population was ever expelled. It was an Argentine garrison which had been sent to the islands to try to impose Argentine sovereignty over British sovereign territory … until the people of the Falkland Islands choose to become Argentinian, they remain resolutely British.
It was a tenacious reply, following the first shot fired Thursday by Argentina’s president. The 212-word letter published in The Guardian and The Independent newspapers in the U.K., didn’t just single out Cameron — it also roped in Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and mentioned the organization’s role in conflict-solving.
In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed the necessity of “bringing to an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.” In 1965, the General Assembly adopted, with no votes against (not even by the United Kingdom), a resolution considering the Malvinas Islands a colonial case and inviting the two countries to negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute between them.
But the Sun must have felt pretty safe about its position, considering that both Cameron and the Falklands government seem to be in agreement with each other. Cameron recently reaffirmed that the Islanders had his “100% backing” to remain British, while Dick Sawle, a legislative assembly member, writing on the Falklands government website, called Fernández’s letter “disappointing” and “historically inaccurate.”
This March will see the Islanders have a real stake in their own future with a referendum expected to take place, quite probably resulting in the region remaining British. But that might not put an end to the spat, considering that Fernández has mid-term elections later in the year, with her opinion on the Falklands likely to curry favor with the Argentinian electorate.