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Clinton on the Falklands

Clinton on the Falklands

Some British bloggers seem to be infuriated by remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her meeting with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner today. Here’s what Clinton had to say about the ongoing dispute over the Falkland Islands:

And we agree. We would like to see Argentina and the United Kingdom sit down and resolve the issues between them across the table in a peaceful, productive way. […]

As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, Alex Massie writes:

So one hopes that Clinton was merely being polite, but her words carry weight and will increase a sense of expectation in Argentina (and more broadly across Latin America) that cannot possibly be met and that is guaranteed to infuriate the British. At best this is clumsy; at worst it’s rather worse than that.

If me email is anything to go by…  the average Briton is likely to react to this sort of American intervention by suggesting that it’s time to bring our boys home from Afghanistan and leave the Americans on their own.

The Economist‘s Bagehot was even angrier, and seemed to speculate that the move by Clinton was some sort of retaliation for " the release of the Lockerbie bomber and the fuss over Binyam Mohamed":

I have hesitated to read drastic slights into the sometimes awkward diplomacy between Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. But this stance on the Falklands cannot be seen any other way. It really is no way for the Americans to treat their most important military ally—as some in America doubtless appreciate.

I recognize this is a very contentious issue, but I think these writers may be reading a bit too much into Clinton’s statement. It seems to me that when U.S. diplomats say they "encourage both countries to sit down," what they’re really saying is, "we don’t want to deal with this so please, just don’t start another war." I don’t really see the stab in the back here.