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Dept. of Unnecessary Provocations

March 4, 2010

America has a nasty habit of trying to butt into diplomatic disputes that are better off as bilateral matters, and, in the process, succeeding only to enrage previously sanguine countries. Kashmir was one example, where even the notion that Richard Holbrooke would have India in his portfolio infuriated India.

While the stakes are much lower and the US has said little of controversy, America has managed to start something of a row with some of the British media due to its remarks about the Falkland Islands (perdoname – Las Malvinas) dispute. To be fair to Sec. Clinton, we have a long tradition of preferring European powers to stay out of our hemisphere and leave Latin American countries alone, and warming relations with most of Latin America is no ignoble objective. There is, however, a matter of the special relationship. Telling Britain, which fought a war not so long ago for the islands, and is now one of the few countries willing to exert itself in Afghanistan, how to handle the dispute, was not a great idea. Even if you believe the secretary was correct, even if you think las Malvinas son Argentinas, it was simply not a… what’s the word… diplomatic thing for the Secretary of State to say when British soldiers are fighting in Helmand.

Not only that but staking any part of the US reputation on this dispute is rather unlikely to yield great rewards. Raising Argentine expectations when there seems to be no indication the British will budge merely faces us with the unnecessary position of either angering Argentina or worse, the UK – an imprudent policy, particularly when a neutral stance would do little harm.

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