Did the Falklands referendum vindicate Britain?

The overwhelming vote certainly didn't convince Argentina to renounce its claim to the islands off its shores in the south Atlantic

Protesters in favor of UK sovereignty, Feb. 5.
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Falkland islanders voted overwhelmingly — almost unanimously, actually — to remain under British rule. The U.K.'s prime minister, David Cameron, said the Tuesday vote count, with 1,513 of the 1,517 votes cast in favor of maintaining ties with Britain, proved once and for all that the islands were "British through and through." Argentina's president, Cristina Kirchner, said that the islands, known as the Malvinas in her country, called the referendum a "parody," labeling the pro-U.K. voters a "consortium of squatters" transported to islands off her South American nation's shores. Will the vote settle anything?

Some say the turf dispute, which came to a head in a 1982 war that cost 900 lives, should now be closed. Yes, the islands are nearly 8,000 miles from Britain and just 300 miles from Argentina in the south Atlantic. But "the people of the Falkland Islands have spoken," says Britain's Telegraph in an editorial, "and they have said that they want to remain British." Argentina's "demagogic" president obviously won't be swayed by this "exercise in democracy," mostly because she's using her "entirely mythical claim over the Falklands to whip up nationalist sentiment... to distract her people from the terrible way she runs her country." She's wrong, and now the world — specifically Washington, which has tried to stay out of this fight — knows it.

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.