It’s not often that other blogs get a mention on Zelo Street, but following yesterday’s observations on the situation in the South Atlantic, I felt the need to comment on a particularly clueless posting on the same subject by someone who is supposed to be a leading blogger.
The intervention was made by one Paul Staines, who blogs under the alias of Guido Fawkes: yesterday, he posted an item titled “Sabre Rattling”, suggesting that the UK may be caught up in another conflict in the Falklands, inferring that Pa Broon has run down the military, and harking back to the deeds of “Maggie”, while conveniently failing to mention that the running down of the military by “Maggie” was what precipitated the conflict in the first place.
The likelihood of Argentina embarking on another military campaign against anyone right now is, as I said yesterday, not unadjacent to zero. If the country cannot afford to settle the bill for surplus railway equipment from Portugal – the kind of amounts are scrap value plus any shipping and overhaul costs – then the idea that they could fund a small war is ridiculous.
Moreover, as the Beeb has noted, Argentina has 13 billion US Dollars’ worth of debt “maturing” - for which read ‘needing to be paid off or restructured’ – this year. No player in the markets is going to award bonus points to a borrower indulging in needless military operations on the side. And in addition to that debt, there is a hole in the country’s budget estimated to be in the range from two to seven billion more US Dollars.
So, if Argentina cannot finance a war over the Falklands, why the rhetoric coming out of Buenos Aires? Well, this again is down to economics, and a desperate need to get a piece of any oil action that might be going: anything that helps pay down that debt will be welcome. But the Argentine Government, as the Beeb has also reported, “has ruled out military action”. So there has been no “sabre rattling” at all: there are no sabres to rattle.
Which brings us back to Paul Staines’ routinely clueless inference – that something the Argentine Government has ruled out will somehow happen anyway. The country cannot fund the most basic of purchases. It has an eye-watering amount of debt falling due, well, right now. And it has ruled out military action. The question for Paul Staines is simply this: just which part of “has ruled out military action” do you not understand?