UK Falklands Violate Monroe Doctrine


The Falkland Islands, a British territory in the South Atlantic, is a cold, windy, and rainy place (more than half the year), as temperatures range between 30 F and 55 F. They neighbor Argentina, 300 miles to the west, the uninhabited Sandwich Islands, to the southeast, and Antarctica, 700 miles to the south. There is virtually no work here, except fishing and shepherding.

The Falklands War broke out in 1982, some 30 years ago, when roughly 3,140 English citizens on the islands witnessed an invasion by thousands of Argentine troops. After ignoring a UN Resolution calling for a withdrawal, a British submarine sank the Gen. Belgrano, an Argentine ship, causing 362 sailors to die at sea, and soon thereafter, Argentina’s military junta surrendered. 13 years later, a different government agreed not to invade again, as weekly flights between the islands and Argentina resumed.

Today, Argentina continues to assert that they own the Falklands. They point out Spain was the first European power to claim them, when Magellan sailed past in 1502. Although Englishmen erected a settlement in 1766, they argue Spanish forces evicted them in 1779, just four years later. While a 1771 treaty gave Britain a right to return, they note the English voluntarily gave up the place again in 1776. Argentina asserts Spain subsequently governed the islands, until Argentine independence was declared in 1811. Argentina alleges an unbroken chain of title flowing through Spain, their predecessor-in-interest, all the way back to Magellan.

Britain, on the other hand, has a claim traced back to Capt. Davies who visited in 1592. After Viscount Falkland, a Royal Navy treasurer, went ashore in 1690, the islands were named after him. Although a newly independent Argentina opened a penal colony on the islands in 1828, it was closed down when British citizens started arriving in 1833. The UK argues English descendants have continuously occupied the Falklands since 1833, and the islanders have voted to remain a territory of the United Kingdom.

At the time of the 1982 Falklands War, President Reagan, a light-weight in international affairs, sided with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, and her Conservative government, because he simply did not know any better. He could have reminded Britain that when the people of Latin America rose up against Spanish colonialism, in the early 19th Century, and won their various wars of independence, the U.S. through President Monroe, issued the Monroe Doctrine in which the Americans sided with Argentina, and the other newly independent Latin American republics.

President Monroe declared in 1823, ten years before the British started colonizing the Falklands: “The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

When the British started colonizing the Falklands in 1833, they were in direct violation of U.S. Foreign Policy, under the Monroe Doctrine. At that time, Monroe would have sided with the Argentines and against the British, and if he were alive in 1982 or today, he would take the same anti-colonial stand.

While giving the islands to Argentina now would go against 179 years of ongoing British rule, and the self-determination rights of the islanders, the Falkland Islands will have a more stable future, if they established permanent relations with Argentina, their only real neighbor. The era of colonialism is over, and it is time for Britain, Argentina, and the people of the Falklands to work out a new arrangement.

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2 Comments to “UK Falklands Violate Monroe Doctrine”

  1. “The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

    The Monroe doctrine refers to future colonisation, not defending against attack. Hence “future colonisation”.

  2. I agree the Monroe Doctrine refers to future colonization.

    The Monroe Doctrine was issued in 1823. Ten years later, in 1833, the British started their current colonization of the Falklands. In 1833, the British were violating the Monroe Doctrine. They fact that they went to war in 1982 to defend their colony does not change the basic point that they acted in violation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1833.

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