Will British lion catch up with American eagle?

April 2 marks the 20th anniversary since beginning of the war between Great Britain and Argentine over the Falkland Islands. Practically no attention was paid to the anniversary in the world, with the exceptions of Great Britain and Argentine of course. The authorities of both countries exchanged statements in the manner “We will not give our islands to anyone!”

The United Kingdom is reluctant to compromise with Argentine about the islands, which is why it sticks to different tactics concerning another property abroad: Gibraltar. Britain's EU status requires that all territorial disputes between the members (Spain and Great Britain, in this case) are to be settled. Regardless of the fact that the majority of Gibraltar citizens are reluctant to assume Spanish citizenship, London plans to give away Gibraltar to Spain.

The situation with the Falkland Islands is quite different. People of the archipelago will not pass into Argentinean jurisdiction. This is no surprise, as nobody would like to live in a country shaken with an economic crisis. The British political leadership is slow to start negotiations over the status of the Falkland status. Britain remembers perfectly well the 1982 war.

As a rule, territorial disputes are the hardest type. Relations between Russia and Japan can serve an example here. After the conflict of 1982, Great Britain became a more active participant of international armed conflicts. At that, London has always been sure of Washington’s support.

Great Britain was one of the most active coalition members during Desert Storm, when Hussein’s troops were ousted from Kuwait. On the operation’s conclusion, British planes together with American ones attacked Iraq from the air. Nowadays, the British contingent in Afghanistan is rated second after the USA regarding its strength. However, this fact can be explained with a certain historical tradition: the British Empire attempted to conquer Afghanistan in the 19th century. Finally, following Washington, London started speaking about the possibility of nuclear attacks against so-called pariah countries. Great Britain is sure to join the anti-Iraq operations if such are launched.

We should not say that Britain’s foreign policy is not independent. What is really very important is the attitude of London and Washington to today’s most important international problems, the Middle East situation, the "war on terrorism," are very much the same. The Northern Ireland situation comes to memory at once. The demonstration of a video-taped slaughter of Catholic women became the last scandal that nearly broke such a fragile peace in Ulster. The UK police issued no explanation of why the policemen beat the women. As a result, new clashes started between Catholics, Protestants, and police on April 4, as a result of which several people were wounded.

Much has been done by the British government over the last several years to settle the Northern Ireland conflict. Problems accumulated within dozens of years cannot be settled at once. These are merely internal problems. As for London’s foreign policy, it has been trying to act a master of world policy for the past twenty years. Once, Britain used to be the master of the world's destiny. No matter what British politicians say, the British Empire is still remembered perfectly well. However, today, Britain must depend upon the support of the US. Therefore, Britain’s lion is leaping fast, but has to adjust the jump length to the American eagle's flying.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/04/39271.html