Thursday, 18 February 2010


Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for an increase in the Royal Navy's presence in the South Atlantic in response to changes in requirements for ships leaving Argentina to go to the Falkland Islands. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the military presence on the islands is entirely adequate and indeed there is a sizeable force in the region, significantly larger than in 1982.

I wonder if the best response to increasing sabre rattling from a country we were at war with less than three decades ago is to increase our military profile and thus the levels of aggression or whether it would be better to try to calm tensions through dialogue. The British military has experienced a lot of action in recent years and we are committed to a significant deployment in Afghanistan for years to come. If the approach of William Hague to this issue is any guide, it seems that the foreign policy of a possible future Conservative government would be based on increasing military tensions around the globe, rather than seeking dialogue and engagement, above all to reduce the risks to British service personnel.

Mr Hague might reflect that the last Falklands War led directly to the overthrow of a dictator in Argentina and the introduction of democracy in that country. This relatively new democracy may be threatened if another conflict were to arise over the Falklands - either 'hot' or 'cold'. My preference would therefore be for the British government to be extremely wary about any unnecessary posturing and instead to seek dialogue with Argentina, while reassuring the citizens of the Falkland Islands that their interests will always be robustly defended in the event of any change to the current situation.

On this evidence, it is difficult to accept that the Conservative Party which voted for the illegal, ill-planned and devastating invasion of Iraq in 2003 has changed very much at all.

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