David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

‘The Pre-emptive Cringe’


Thirty years ago, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. At least when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait, there was some reasoning behind his adventure, namely to grab vast oil reserves. The Falklands have nothing but flocks of sheep to offer. The 3,000 inhabitants are all British, unpretentious people not very skilled at speaking up for them. Unanimously they insist on staying British, and so they shall, if self-determination still has any meaning when applied to the British. Taking the Falklands, Argentina would have on its hands a die-hard group unable to accept the cultural change imposed on them. Another classic colonialist confrontation would arise as the police would have to begin arresting recalcitrant natives and deporting them to some gulag in Argentina.

The Prince of Wales is due to be posted in the Falklands. He is a helicopter pilot serving in the Air Force like any other airman. For Cristina de Kirchner, president of Argentina, however, the presence of Pilot Officer Wales is an intolerable insult to national pride. Dispensing with rationality or national interest, she is threatening another invasion.

In 1982 the Foreign Office advised Mrs. Thatcher to hand the Falklands over rather than defend it. And right on cue the second time round, a Foreign Office grandee by the name of Sir Christopher Audland writes to The Times that holding sovereignty over the Falklands brings no benefit but only substantial economic costs and political rows. Britain should negotiate transfer of sovereignty to Argentina. It is a wonderfully pure example of what the great Professor John Kelly called with memorable scorn, “the pre-emptive cringe.”

This Audland has had a long career of handing British sovereignty and self-determination away to others. He was in the team under Edward Heath negotiating entry into the European Union, lying to the public that this meant only joining a single market and there would never be any loss of independence. Whereupon this Audland became an official of the European Union, working to dismantle what was left of Britain’s historic identity. Where do these people come from, and why do they despise their own identity to the point that they must diminish and even vandalize it, institutionalizing “the pre-emptive cringe.”


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