Falkland crisis: Oppose imperialist war

British troops land in the Falkland Islands

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 19, May 1982

As we go to press the largest British imperialist naval fleet assembled for 25 years has started a war to retake the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. On 2 April, the fascist Argentinian junta, headed by General Galtieri, took over the islands in a patent manoeuvre to divert the growing class opposition to its rule. As a result, British imperialism is once again on the warpath to maintain one of the last outposts of British colonialism. It is using all the scientific techniques and weapons of modern warfare to destroy the Argentinian airforce and navy. In this murderous assault British imperialism now has the full backing of US imperialism.

The Thatcher government is justifying its military aggression by claims of British sovereignty over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. The truth is that these islands were snatched from Argentina in 1833 when British imperialism settled them with sheep and a handful of British colonials. British imperialism has no just claims to sovereignty over the Malvinas/Falklands and its attempt to retake the islands, is no more than a move to defend British imperialist interests in the region. They are also a warning that anychallenge to British imperialism will be met with the full might of British arms.

The government is trying to give its imperialist designs a democratic veneer. The Prime Minister had the nerve to claim that: 

‘We have a long and proud history of recognising the right of others to determine their own destiny. Indeed, in that respect we have an experience unrivalled by any other nation.' 

This is a disgusting lie from a ruling class which had the biggest colonial empire the world has ever seen. British imperialism has viciously subjugated and denied the right of self- determination to the peoples of India, Malaya, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Palestine, Jamaica, Burma, Ireland and many, many other nations. It has ruled these nations by the brutest force and suppressed uprisings for national self-determination with bullets and blood. Never once did it grant the right to self-determination, until the people took it, arms in hand. Still today, British imperialism engages in direct military occupation of Ireland to deny them the right of self-determination, using all the savagery and violence it has learnt oppressing other nations. It colludes with the racist Zionist state's oppression of the Palestinian people who are fighting for the right to determine their own destiny. It is the staunchest supporter of the apartheid regime which denies the right of self-determination to the black people of Namibia and South Africa. And through its banks and companies it sucks the wealth of these nations, reducing their people to poverty. Britain's experience is indeed unrivalled by any other nation — an experience of brutality and oppression.

In Parliament, Mr Pym the British Foreign Secretary had the gall to declare: 

‘Britain does not appease dictators.' 

Since the Argentinian takeover of the Malvinas/Falklands, British imperialists have suddenly discovered that Argentina is ruled by a vicious fascist dictatorship. Yet as long as the junta cooperated with British imperialism Mr Pym and his cronies had no complaints! They cared nothing for the brutal suppression of all democratic rights, for the daily torture and repression practised against millions of Argentinian workers. Both Labour and Tory governments have readily assisted the junta. They have sold it arms, including Argentina's one aircraft carrier, 70 Sea-cat missiles, Shorland armoured cars, Canberra bombers and much radio and electronic equipment. British capitalists investing in Argentina with the full backing of British governments include ICI, Dunlop, GEC, Unilever, Shell, Pilkingtons and many others, while British banks have lent some $5bn. If this is not appeasement, what is?

The British government's claim to be defending democracy and self-determination in the Malvinas/Falklands is nothing but rank imperialist hypocrisy. The truth is that British imperialism will pretend to support self-determination and democracy only when such pretence serves its own imperialist interests. Britain relies on fascist dictatorships and oppressive regimes to protect its investments not only in Argentina, but also in South Africa, El Salvador, the Middle East and elsewhere. It has never opposed the vicious South African raids into Angola and Mozambique and neither has it raised any protest at the Zionist annexation of Arab lands.

Labour imperialists rally round Union Jack

The Falklands crisis of British imperialism has united every parasitic element in society dependent on the robbery and plunder of British imperialism. Fascists, Jingoes, Liberals, SDP, the Labour Party and TUC have all rallied round the flag to the delighted applause of imperialist scribblers in Fleet Street. 

That the Labour Party has lately manufactured a few differences between its stance and that of the Tory government should fool no-one. The Labour Party holds essentially the same warmongering imperialist position, they are just more shame-faced about it. When British troops invaded South Georgia, the Labour Party applauded it. When British jets bombed the airstrip on Malvinas/Falklands, the Labour Party applauded it. Now that a war has broken out the Labour Party shares complete responsibility with the Tory government for provoking that war.

Michael Foot, a CND figurehead who told the last Labour Conference 'I am an inveterate peace-monger', called for the use of force to protect the Falklanders:

'They have been betrayed. The responsibility for the betrayal rests with the Government. The Government must now prove by deeds — they will never be able to do it by words — that they are not responsible for the betrayal.'

John Silkin, who ignored the fascist murder of 13 black people in his own constituency last year, loudly condemned what 'the present bargain basement Mussolini' (referring to General Galtieri, not Margaret Thatcher) might do to white Falkland Islanders 8,000 miles away. He complained that British imperialism was militarily too weak to defend its colonies:

‘We do not believe that the conventional forces and in particular the naval and air strength of our country are at the strength that they ought to be. There are other people who are also listening. There are other and nearer colonies that may suffer unless we take the necessary steps now.'

While the government spoke of the need to respect the wishes of the people in the Malvinas/Falkland, one Labour MP, Peter Hardy, thoughtfully pointed out that this might not be to the advantage of British imperialism:

‘given the minerals and oil which might be available, it would be highly undesirable to allow 1,800 people in the Falkland Islands to decide by referendum that territory in South Georgia or the South Sandwich Islands could be lightly taken away.'

Foot explained that opposition by the Labour Party might have undermined any international support for British imperialism:

‘If at the time the task force was dispatched, or subsequently, there was to be strong opposition in this country represented by the Labour Party, to the dispatch of that force, my fear is that one of the consequences would have been to injure at least the worldwide support that we have seen.' 

Just as predictably, British trade union leaders have joined the pro-imperialist chorus. Moss Evans of the TGWU said:

‘We believe they should get off the Falkland Islands, and if we can't do anything other than use force, then force will have to be used. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a pacifist.'

David Basnett, leader of the GMWU, said that the trade union movement sup-ported Michael Foot. Racist Terry Duffy of the AUEW said Britain did not have enough non-nuclear weapons. He went on to support the use of British imperialist power against Argentina:

‘None of us wish to see bloodshed, but I have always believed that if we wish to retain democracy we should never succumb to bullying, and in particular to a dictatorship who wish to destroy free trade unionism.'

Once again the labour aristocracy has shown itself to be an enthusiastic guardian of British imperialism. Millions are unemployed, the racist police are tooling up for a massive assault on the black and white youth, the British army terrorise the Irish people. Yet the Labour Party goes to war not against the Thatcher government and the capitalist system but in support of British imperialism. 

US imperialism takes sides

British politicians and the media repeatedly called for support from US imperialism. Haig, the US Secretary of State, tried to resolve the dispute without it coming to serious hostilities. Argentina is a major part of the US empire in South America; Britain is its staunchest ally in Europe. US imperialism was frightened to take sides because it risked either toppling the Thatcher government and weakening NATO; or the collapse of the Galtieri junta, and possibly the beginning of a proletarian revolution in Argentina, with dramatic consequences throughout the whole of Latin America. The crisis has not only affected British imperialism, but threatens the web of alliances spun by US imperialism in Latin America and Europe. Now that the USA has taken the side of its imperialist ally we can be sure it has used the period of Haig's shuttle diplomacy to find a suitable and more malleable replacement for Galtieri, should this prove necessary.

The RCG totally condemns this war to take over the Malvinas/Falklands. No British imperialist war can ever have any democratic aims. War by British imperialism is always waged to protect British profits and the British ruling class. The British working class has nothing to gain in this latest example of British imperialist aggression, and must completely oppose it. 

Death to British imperialism!