Asked at a press conference Sunday in Colombia to comment on Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands, President Obama made reference to “the Maldives.” This is a gaffe on top of a gaffe: The Maldives are in the Indian Ocean, and he obviously meant the Malvinas — the Argentine government’s name for The Falklands. But he shouldn’t have been trying to say “Malvinas,” either; that’s an Argentine nationalist propaganda term that implicitly denies the right to self-determination of the 3000 British subjects who live on the Falklands.
On the substance, Obama asserted a position of neutrality on the status of the Falklands, which Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has been banging the drums about lately. The Reagan administration tried for a time to maintain a stance of neutrality thirty years ago when the junta that ruled Argentina at the time invaded the Falklands, and there was serious discussion within the administration of tilting US policy toward the Argentine side; ultimately, Reagan approved military aid to Britain that helped win the Falklands War. One hopes that neutrality won’t become as practically untenable as it did in the 80s, and Kirchner’s Britain-bashing will remain confined to public statements and toothless UN initiatives. Still, as the Daily Caller‘s Neil Munro suggests, there’s something unseemly about Obama’s unwillingness to stand by our British allies.
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