You have to admire Cristina Fernandez, President of Argentina, for her dogged pursuit of lost causes. Fernandez is so dogged that if you entered her into Crufts, she would win best of breed. Just as Shakespeare compared dogs to men, when it really matters there are only two kinds of dog, and two kinds of ruler. There are those that possess bite, and there are those that only bark. From her endless yapping, it is plain to see that Fernandez is a toothless poodle. Sometimes leaders want things that matter, but cannot get them. Sometimes leaders should know when not to pursue the unattainable. Whilst Hillary Clinton may fume at Russian intransigence over Syria, her speeches are proof she is unable to act. However, saving Syria’s civilians from massacre is a goal well worth shouting about. Meanwhile, Obama did not talk to the Pakistanis, or anyone else, when he ordered the killing of Bin Laden. In that case, he had the real power to act, and did so, decisively. And even when a ruler cannot win militarily, a big economy delivers plenty of influence. Whilst a lot of big economies depend too much on oil imports – including that of the US – and a lot of big economies suffer too much debt – including that of the US – the ruler of a big economy can still squeeze the rulers of smaller economies. That is why the US-driven sanctions against Iran are starting to bite. And Iran also knows that whilst oil is expensive, talk is cheap, and that is why they would like a nuke to counter any threat posed by Israel, or the US, or even by the Arabs. Although Fernandez openly mocks the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though only when talking about Britain’s involvement, she conveniently forgets the intervention in Libya, which saved lives and enabled a people to overthrow their tyrant. That is the power to do good, being used to do good. So when it comes to modern power games, we can summarize that money talks, nukes shout, bombers fly overhead, and poodles get taken for a walk.
Aiming to fill column inches under the euphemistic heading of ‘current affairs’, Fernandez chose the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s defeat in the Falklands War as the perfect day to visit the United Nations Under-Committee for People With Nothing Better to Do. That was very symbolic of her. Some nasty pathetic arrogant bullies were beaten 30 years ago. Now their successor tries to accomplish with barking what they could not achieve through biting. Once at the UN, Fernandez told the Auxillary Committee With No Real Purpose about all the reasons why a still-pretty-darned-powerful country like the UK should cave in to the demands of a not-even-modestly-powerful country like Argentina. And what was her key demand? The right to negotiate. It is beyond my understanding why anyone would demand a right to negotiate. That is like asking for the right to ask for something else. If you want something, just ask for it. But Fernandez dare not ask for more than the right to negotiate. She already knows nobody is going to negotiate with her, because nobody wants, or needs, to give her anything. More importantly, she has nothing to offer.
Whatever the Argentine government wants from the Falklands, and however they ask for it, the answer will be ‘no’. And the answer will be ‘no’ because the people living on the Falklands speak English, not Spanish, and want to live in a self-governing British Overseas Territory, and not be slaves to some tinpot demagogue from Argentina who will gladly deport the Falklanders in an instant so she can concentrate on her real goal: plundering natural resources as short-term fix for woeful economic mismanagement. I think most people, of any race or nationality, would say ‘no’, if they were offered a similar deal. There was a time when the British government would have ignored the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, and cut a deal with Argentina. But in the 70’s, Argentina’s most moronic nationalists did such a good job of alienating the Falklanders that the British government was boxed in, and could not cut a deal. And then, in the 80’s, the Argentinian junta took brainless belligerence to its illogical conclusion, and invaded. Now the Argies have reverted to previous form, deploying a mix of bullying, economic obstruction and hectoring to get their way. After 40 years of Argentina’s counter-productive tactics, and as we near the 15th anniversary of the transfer of Hong Kong to China, thoughts turn to whether the Argentinian President is genuinely stupid. Bullying is not working. It will not work. If there is one utterly consistent defining characteristic of the British psyche, it is that they hate bullies and will fight them to the bitter end. Nazis, Catholic Popes, Napoleon, Rorke’s Drift, the European Union, the Eurovision Song Contest… Brits are stubborn, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Fernandez has adopted every mannerism of the playground bully, right down to petty name-calling. She keeps describing David Cameron as stupid, which is an odd way to initiate constructive negotiations. There is a psychological principle that we see in others what we fear is true of ourselves. This would suggest that Cristina Fernandez worries that she is stupid. And she would be right to worry, because she is stupid.
I, for one, would not like to be ruled by Cristina Fernandez. Just look at how Argentina’s aboriginals have been treated under her government, and under the predecessor government of her husband. The aboriginals are thrown off their land, see their forests destroyed, and are left to starve. At this point, it is usually good form for a misguided lefty to blame a North American capitalist vulture, or some other stereotypical foe, for the problems of these people. That is a fair point – poor people get exploited by international businesses too. My point is that the the Argentinian government does not protect its own people, even though it chases after pieces of land on a supposed point of principle. Put the government’s behaviour into this context. As far as the Falklands is concerned, the goal of the Argentinian government is to ‘protect’ the land and sea surrounding the Falklands, protecting them from the ordinary people who actually live on the land. And once nature is protected from the people, the people can be pushed aside to let nature be properly exploited, with government approval and government taxes. This position equally explains why Argentina’s government have failed the aboriginal Argentinians, the true victims of colonialism. For rulers like Fernandez, the interests of ‘The People’ (abstract concept) must always override the interests of actual people (whose suffering is unimportant). In short, Cristina Fernandez is an old-style populist fascist. The only difference between Fernandez and Mussolini is that his army could afford bullets and his trains stayed on their tracks. Fernandez’s gameplan is to abuse weaker minorities in order to enrich the majority that support her. And, like a typical fascist, she manipulates the presentation in order to present herself as a liberator, when liberty is the very last thing on her mind. There is no liberty if the majority prospers by ignoring the rights of minorities. But then, it does not matter what I think. All that matters is that the Falkland Islanders do not want to be ruled by Cristina Fernandez or any other Argentinian. And because she is the leader of a weak country, they never will be.
Despite and because of her lunacy, I enjoy reading about Cristina Fernandez’s speeches. Whenever I read a piece complaining about how flawed Angela Merkel is, or what a failure Obama has turned out to be, or that Jacob Zuma is intellectually subnormal, I still try to keep things in perspective. It could be worse. Cristina Fernandez is worse. She is the worst. Fidel Castro is entitled to his rambling rants, because he not only overthrew a dictator, he then fought off the Bay of Pigs invasion. North Korea may be the world’s most awful country, but Kim Jong-un deserves a bit of time before we rush to judge his leadership. But there are no excuses for Cristina Fernandez’s impersonation of a rabid gummy demented poodle. Her incoherent bombast serves as a case study on how to harden opposition against you. Compared to Fernandez, even Sarah Palin comes across as intelligent, accomplished and well-balanced. Though Fernandez positions herself as a thrusting new style of leader from a reinvigorated South America, she clearly belongs to the Chavez class of reactionary and controlling buffoons, and she has nothing in common with the Lula class of 21st century global statesmen. When I heard her bluster at the UN Sub-Committee for the Chronically Bored, it just made me laugh. Take this argument:
“How can it be claimed that, 14,000 kilometres away [8,700 miles], that it [the Falkland Islands] can be part of the British territory?”
The claim is astonishingly easy to make. Nobody has ever written a rule that says ‘places that are 13,999 kilometres away can be part of your territory, but not places that are 14,000 kilometres away’. Just ask the UN Sub Committee for Making Up Rules Just Like This, because they would know if this rule existed, and they would quote it. There is no rule because, 200 years ago, nobody bothered to write a rule to stop people from inhabiting uninhabited islands where nobody else wanted to live. However, there are rules about self-determination of peoples, which does not suit Fernandez at all, so she ignores them. But as Fernandez has raised the question of measuring distances, I hope the UN Junior Committee for Wasting Time will review who should be governing these places: American Samoa (7,700km from the mainland USA); Aruba (7,900km from the mainland of the Netherlands); Guam (9,400km from the mainland USA); and French Polynesia (15,900km from mainland France). As the world’s leading expert on how far things should be from somewhere else, Fernandez should take charge of redrawing the map of the world, reallocating every bit of land to the right and proper government, without troubling to ask what the locals think. I eagerly await her solution for peace in the Middle East. They should put Netanyahu and Abbas in a room with Fernandez, and lock the door. My guess is that, three days later, the Palestinian and the Israeli will walk out, arm in arm, as the best of friends. Fernandez, however, would never be seen again. Perhaps, when deciding who should control what, Fernandez will also reallocate Saudi oil fields to the protective ownership of Argentina. Her Falklands bluster not only coincides with the anniversary of Argentina’s defeat, it also coincides with the decline of Argentina from being an energy exporter to becoming an energy importer. Although they coincide, this is no coincidence. Fernandez is the kind of tyrant willing to reallocate ownership of anything that suits her, to anyone that suits her. This was proven by the decision to expropriate YPF, the Argentinian energy company, even though Spanish owners Repsol had no desire to sell. But I stray from the point. The Falklands used to be poor, and Argentina ignored them. But now, Fernandez insists her interests in the islands have nothing to do with commandeering their new-found wealth. Argentina’s real interest is human rights…
“We are just asking to sit down at a a table to talk. Can someone in a modern world deny that possibility and say they are leaders of the civilized world and defenders of human rights? No. The truth is, one cannot do both”.
Tell that to the Libyan people. I imagine they quite like how British military might, and not pointless yammering, helped them to secure their human rights. Tell that to the Syrian people. I wonder how they feel about pointless UN talk at this moment. And tell that to the Falkland Islanders, who keep asking for talks with the Argentinian government, but keep being rebuffed because the Argentinians deny the Falklanders’ right to self-determination. In Britain, even the Scots have a right to self-determination. That is what happens in a civilized country. Because Brits are civilized, neither the Falkland Islanders, nor the British people as a whole, are going to worry about humouring a wailing banshee who giddily cites human rights in order to bolster a corrupt and despotic land grab. Then again, in yet another perverse statement, the instigators of the Falklands War keep insisting that they, somehow, were its victims…
“When I looked today at 10 Downing Street and saw them and what they were doing with the flag which they call the Falkland Islands flag I felt shame from afar for them because wars are not to be celebrated nor are they to be commemorated.”
This must rank as one of the most obviously false statements ever made. Winners always celebrate and commemorate wars. Only losers want to forget about them. And Fernandez enjoys the celebration of Argentinian victories just like her fellow Argies. That is why she celebrates Argentina’s Day of National Sovereignty, which is held on the anniversary of the Battle of Vuelta de Obligado.
“The issue of the Malvinas is a challenge to see whether or not we are capable of overcoming prejudice and cliches that are outdated, because the world has changed and there are new players.”
For me, this was the strangest assertion made by Fernandez. The world is smaller than it has ever been, transport is easier, communication better, and we respect the right of self-determination more than ever… and Fernandez concludes that Argentina’s control of the Falklands is inevitable? There are Chinese in Vancouver, Estonians in Tokyo, French in London, Lebanese in Sydney, and Scots moving back from Hollywood so they can vote for their independence, but Fernandez says there cannot be Brits in the South Atlantic! Argentina is pursuing an old-fashioned and brutalist strategy of obstructing travel and obstructing trade with the Falkland Islands. These are not the tactics of a country who want to cooperate with the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands. These are not the tactics of people who want to visit, share, learn, and build relationships. Blockades are not designed to overcome prejudice. Fernandez’s tactics are meant to punish the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands just because they exist. She wants to punish the Falklanders because they do not want to be ruled by her, and because their existence is inconvenient for her.
Thankfully, Argentina is not a powerful player on the world stage. They are not even a minor power. The only thing keeping Argentina going is a heady mix of government lies about economic statistics, severe currency controls, being let off from paying their debts and stealing through nationalization. Argentina has about two-thirds of the population of the UK. It has less than a fifth of UK’s GDP. Argentina’s economy is not one of the largest 20 in the world, although Argentina is included in the G20 club. Their inclusion in the G20 has prompted a lot of criticism; countries like Norway have larger economies and contribute far more globally, although Norway is excluded from the G20. Argentina’s inclusion in the G20 is driven by pan-American politics, and not Argentina’s true significance as global lightweight. Indeed, Argentina’s GDP per capita is unspectacular and lower than most of her South American neighbours. Argentina tries to make a merit out of its lack of involvement in military affairs, presenting this as a commitment to peace. In truth, Argentina cannot afford to update its dilapidated military, just as it cannot afford to repair its creaky infrastructure. In summary, if there are any new ‘players’ in the world, as Fernandez suggests, then Argentina is certainly not one of them.
But given that Cristina Fernandez is the worst kind of fantasist – a fascist fantasist – she will doubtless indulge in many more playtime delusions involving powerful rhetoric, fashionable dresses, and world domination. So I thought I would share a possible top five for Fernandez’s next loopy demands…
1. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Fernandez barracks a joint meeting of the FIFA Executive and the English Premier League, saying:
“Tottenham Hotspurs owes an enormous debt, and would not even exist, if it were not for the many years of service of Osvaldo César Ardiles. Osvaldo, known disrespectfully as ‘Ossie’ by the layabout stupid British, was a World Cup winner, unlike any living English players. He was a great player for Hotspurs, and then coached them to many successes like winning the Champions League and being the most favourite club in the world. Because of Osvaldo, the club is now known globally as the Tott-ing-ham Hotspurs, a fact which will have greatly boosted their merchandise sales. Also Ricardo Villa scored one good goal for Hotspurs. Since they left, the regimes of Alan Sugar and Daniel Levy have stripped all the value from the club, stealing from the people. We demand to enter negotiations for the immediate nationalization of Tottenham Hotspurs by the Argentinian government, and the reinstatement of Osvaldo Ardiles as Director of Football. All non-stupid peoples can plainly see this is deserved by the sweat, blood and tears of our freedom-loving Argentinians. Football is no longer just the game of the English, with their cliches about Bobby Moore and 1066, and they must start to realize there are other players in this world as well. Tottenham Hotspurs is Argentinian, always has been Argentinian, and will be Argentinian again.”
Whilst visiting a Hindu temple on a state visit to promote trade with India, Fernandez unexpectedly announced:
“Everybody knows that cattle is an invention of Argentina. Argentina is the world’s third largest exporter of beef, and every Argentinian eats 55 kilos of beef a year, because cows taste so very good. The conquistadors first discovered beef when they encountered Argentina’s indigenous cattle, bringing it back to Europe and then sharing cows with the rest of the world. This is all proven by some documents I just made up… I mean some documents I just dug up… I mean some documents that our impartial historians and scientists just dug up. As all cows are illegally descended from our cows, we demand India enters immediate negotiation for the repatriation of all cows currently residing in India. We hope it is some comfort to devout Hindus and to animal rights activists that we sincerely intend to make a very good meal out of these cows. Just like my lucid moments, I like my steak rare.”
Fernandez walked into a broom closet at the United Nations, pulled the door closed behind her, and was overheard giving this speech to nobody in particular:
“It is recognized, by non-stupid, non-mediocre world leaders all over the world, that the strength of our claim to the Malvinas is because they are so very close to the Argentinian mainland. We can see the islands, from our mainland, so long as it is a fine day and we are using a telescope or very powerful binoculars. And when we see them, that is the very same light that was once touching those islands, thus proving how very close we are, because light has been scientifically proven to not travel very far. But what is even closer still to the Argentinian mainland? Chile! Its border touches our border, that’s how close it is. We can see Chile without even using binoculars. So, being so close, Chile belongs to Argentina, and always will. Also, whilst we’re at it, we’ll have Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil too. But not Bolivia, not yet. We’ll save that for desert.”
4. The Maldives
Even the world’s smartest leaders make mistakes. So does Barack Obama. In one recent slip-up, David Cameron’s pretend best friend managed to insult the Brits, and the Falklanders, and the Argies, and another nation, by confusing the Maldives with the Malvinas. Any fool knows that the Maldives are an island nation in the Indian Ocean, whilst the Malvinas is a Spanish corruption of the name given to the Falklands by the first people to live there: the French. In other words, the Maldives is a real country whilst the Malvinas is a made-up word used by some people to name somewhere they do not live. In a tit-for-tat move, I am considering re-christening Argentina as ‘Arse-end-tina’, but I digress…
Fernandez shakes hands with Obama on the White House lawn, and takes questions at a joint press conference. One of the American journalists asks Fernandez about Obama’s recent Maldives/Malvinas slip-up.
“Ha ha. You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-ma-toe. Ha ha. President Obama is a very smart world leader, because he knows the real name of the Malvinas is the Malvinas, and not any other stupid name used by any stupid people who speak a stupid language like English and not an intelligent language like Spanish or American. But, he did make a mistake just this once, and he is very smart indeed, so this raises a fundamental issue. Why are the Maldives allowed to have such a similar name to our sovereign possession, the uninhabited islands of the Malvinas? At the very least, the Maldives should change their name to something less confusing, like… I don’t know… the Who-cares Islands. I understand they will soon sink underwater, so nobody cares what their name is, and they shouldn’t be allowed to cause the Argentinian people so much trouble. And if the Maldivistas… no, that doesn’t sound right, is it Maldivites…? Anyway, if the people who live on the Maldives do not voluntarily change names, we demand the opening of negotiations to end this confusion, through the creation of a new and joint Malvinas-Maldivas island territory, which will be under the enlightened governorship of Argentina, by which I mean me. At just 14,000 kilometres from Argentina, it is clear that we have as much right to boss around the Maldives as anyone else. After all, they received their independence from the colonialists of the British Empire in 1965, which proves these colonialists never ever give up power unless they are truly forced to. And we will force the Maldivitamins to become an inalienable part of our nation, by the strength of our intelligent arguments.”
The journalist, incredulous, asks Obama to respond. Obama stands silent for a moment, and then begins…
Let me say that we reject colonialism in all its forms, which is why it was so reprehensible to see a leading Republican, Senator Santorum, trying to create division by suggesting Puerto Ricans needed to learn English if they want to become the 51st State of the US. By the same token, I’m sure the Argentinians won’t expect the Malvinians to learn Spanish just because they’ll, erm, voluntarily switch sovereignty. What’s really important, as with the US and Puerto Rico, is that we respect the upcoming referendum the Puerto Ricans will hold to decide their relationship to the USA, because the fate of the people should be decided by a vote of the people, as agreed by the UN Special Committee for Decolonization, and not by some backroom deal between politicians. Erm, which is a rule, except, of course, when referendums don’t matter so much. We’re, erm, neutral on other country’s referendums, as you know, though we have a strong policy of backing our own. What fundamentally matters, even more than referendums, is that, erm, we look at where somewhere is on the map, and look which countries are close by and we all act like good neighbours and get everyone involved in discussing important decisions, a bit like we do with encouraging constructive dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, and that is what we want between the Malvinas and Argentina, and we also want that between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on the issue of Puerto Rico’s sovereignty. Erm, I mean Puerto Rico should consult with Haiti before making any decisions, no, erm, no, I mean they should talk to Cuba, erm, no, I really didn’t mean Cuba, although I suppose we got Guantanamo in Cuba, which is a bit of the US that is pretty close to Puerto Rico, no, erm, I meant Venezuela is close to Puerto Rico, at least compared to the US, erm, no, I meant Aruba should be consulted because they’re close, which would mean the Dutch would need to have a say over Puerto Rico’s future government, which I hadn’t expected. And maybe Barbados should be consulted. Or Nicaragua. They’re all closer to Peurto Rico than we are in the mainland United States. Not that distance is, erm, important, except when it is. So, in conclusion, the Republican party is more extreme, divisive and partisan than I’ve ever seen them, and it’s all their fault. Changey-hope. Hopey-change. Polish deathcamps. The private sector is doing fine. Changey-hope. Forward! Erm, what’s ‘forward’ in Spanish? Prog-resar? Progresar! Now, would anyone like me to sing a song, or maybe you want to photograph me playing some basketball?”
5. Outer Space
Fernandez gives a press-conference in an astronomical observatory.
“Have you looked through this telescope? There’s a lot of space up there. And we’re as close to it as any other country. In fact, we’re a bit closer to it if you climb up to the top of one of our beautiful mountains and don’t consider the higher mountains that some other countries have. And we always have been that close to space. And we can see it – even without a telescope! But a telescope helps us to see more and to end the cliches of the canals on mars and the colonial imperialists with their tea and crumpet and their ‘this is ours just because we got here first’. Can you see the Malvinas from Buckingham Palace? No! But can you see Jupiter from Argentina? Yes! Remember, nobody can deny that it is an old cliche that the person who goes somewhere first gets to own that place. It does not matter who goes their first. What matters is how close the place is, and who saw it first! And we’re close to space! And who says our ancestors didn’t see it first? So by Presidential proclamation, I have decreed that outer space is now called espacio argentino-malvino-maldivo-tottingham-hotspurso and that we own any oil found by foreigners up there. This is only fit and proper as there are new players and the aliens need to have their human rights protected by us, and the aliens should not be messed up and catch diseases and be starved to death by the next wave of the white European space colonists with their backward imperialism and their space ships and their Darth Vaders. We, in Argentina, are the lightsabre-wielding source of galactic peace and truth, just like the Jedi Knights, and we will begin our quest for universal peace by demanding negotiations with all alien lifeforms. Here, I will press the button now to do that. [She presses a button]. Did you hear that? We sent a radio signal telling the aliens they now belong to us, and we will free them from the oppression of whatever it is that oppresses them, like the English, or maybe the French, or maybe international banking, or the United Nations Committee for Do-Not-Listen, or any other evil alien oppressors with three heads and four eyes where each of the eyes is on a tendril that emanates out of the leftmost head. With peace and justice, we will not let the oppressive colonialists steal the alien oil before we can preserve it for the people of Argentina and the enjoyment of the oppressed peoples that we will liberate from their self-determined delusion. Anything else is pure stupidity.”