Move to Scotland or become Argentine? This is the option that Kelpers, or Falkland Islanders, may have faced if a proposed plan for handing over the Malvinas Islands to Argentina was given the green light.
The UK’s Daily Mail has today reported their discovery of a document entitled “Solution to the Falkland Islands Crisis,” which they retrieved from the CIA website. At a great level of generality, the document discusses the possibility of returning the islands to Argentina, and how this might be achieved.
It is unclear exactly when the document was written, but it seems to be at around the time the conflict began, as it describes as its first aim, “the cessation of hostilities.”
What does this alternate history – as sketched by National Intelligence Council Chairman of the time, Henry Rowen – look like?
The solution described involves the immediate withdrawal of Argentine troops in exchange for a gradual handover of the island to Argentina. Argentina would also be expected to receive some penalty for “using armed force to settle an international dispute.”
An Argentine enclave would be established on the island (with flag and Argentine law), and over a three year period, the British would work to unravel their administration.
Kelpers would be given the option of staying and becoming Argentine citizens, or resettling in Scotland or “elsewhere where conditions may be similar to the Falkland Islands” (*note to self – find remote archipelago at 52°S with somewhere between subantarctic and tundra climate, and extensive bird colony.) So as to be “humane and indeed generous,” Argentine and the UK would share the expense of US $100,000 relocation grants per person.
The memo relies on some presumptions. Firstly, that Kelpers would nonplussed about leaving the island. Secondly, that the Britain would be prepared to hand the islands (back) over to Argentina.
History, of course, demonstrated the opposite. The British went all-out in reclaiming the islands after Argentina invaded on 2 April 1982. One day later Thatcher sent a flotilla to the archipelago some 12,000 km away, and, after negotiations broke down, ordered the aerial bombing of the island on 1 May.
The war, which lasted 74 days and resulted in the death of 649 Argentines, hastened the unravelling of the military dictatorship in Argentina, but buoyed Margaret Thatcher’s approval ratings in the UK.