‘Falklands self-determination is smokescreen to uphold UK oil companies’ rights’

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Friends and families wave off HMS Dauntless as she leaves port in Portsmouth, southern England (Reuters/ Luke MacGregor)
With the discovery of oil and gas deposits near the Falkland Islands, a conflict between UK and Argentina would be perceived as a war to uphold the rights of UK companies, rather than islanders’ self-determination, political analyst John Wight told RT.

READ MORE: British firms discover oil and gas off Falklands, Argentina threatens legal action

RT:What does this discovery potentially mean for the UK? In your opinion is it a pot of gold or is it not?

John Wight: Well it could conceivably be both. Certainly economically it is pot of gold. But politically it gives UK a lot of problems, because this dispute is not going to go away. Argentina’s claim to the islands is a long standing one. They certainly have a moral claim to the islands. They certainly have geographical claim to these islands.

And it is an argument dating back to anti-colonialism. The fact that these islands with 3,000 islanders who demand to remain British citizens, the idea that they can veto the relations between the UK and Argentina, that they can impede relations between the Argentina and the UK is unconscionable.

And it seems to be that there will have to be some sort of a resolution. I think a joint-sovereignty is the way ahead. But the present situation is clearly unsustainable.

Having said that, arguments around the self-determination and the rights of these islanders to self-determination are but a smoke screen. This is about the economics. It is about the oil and gas in these waters. And that is what is sustaining the British government's objective stance going forward.

RT:Where would Argentina stand legally over the oil find? Would it have a good case to challenge?

JW: Well it is difficult to say. They are obviously going to bring their case to the UN. Up to this point the US has supported Britain, although I would suggest reluctantly. But Argentina has the backing of the entire continent of South America. And that has to add some political weight. So it is difficult to see how any of such ruling could be enforced, even if it were to be passed. But it certainly raises the political pressure on the British government which up to now has proved unwilling to reconcile the issue with the Argentinians in a way that is suggested of a sophisticated democracy.

The Falkland Islands stand as a legacy of the economic piracy that underpinned the British empire. And in the year 2015 it is ridiculous that 3,000 islanders who demand to be British can continue to hold on to territory that is 300 miles from the coast of Argentina and 8,000 miles from the United Kingdom.

If they want to be British, why not repatriate them to Britain. After all where else better to be if you want to be British, then in Britain itself.

READ MORE: UK spied on Argentina over alleged new attempt to take Falklands – Snowden leak

RT:Well there is another factor that could be at play here which is a military one. Last week the UK has increased its military spending for the islands, citing the threat from Argentina. Does it justify spending millions more by the UK?

JW: From an economic standpoint – yes. There are billions of pounds worth of oil and gas known to be in the seas off the shores of the Falkland Islands. But I don’t think the British public opinion will accept the possibility, the prospect of Britain going into another war, that the idea of young men up and down the UK would go to war 8,000 miles away. Because that would...evidently be a war not for self-determination, not to uphold the rise of those islanders to self-determination, but to uphold the right of British oil and gas companies to extract multi-billion pounds worth of oil and gas 8,000 miles away. It is unsustainable.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.