This has been the week when Ronald Reagan preached an East-West ideological crusade to a British Parliament deeply involved in a nonideological war.Skip to next paragraph
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The American President's audience in the Palace of Westminster was concerned with a world in which capitalist Argentina is taking military help from its best trading partner, the communist Soviet Union, in its battle for capitalistic British property in the South Atlantic.
And even while the President was speaking in London, capitalist Israelis were doing their best to obliterate Palestinians who are fighting not for Karl Marx or Moscow, but to regain a right to live in the lands in which they were born and where their ancestors have been living for thousands of years.
The world of today is full of contests among peoples which seem to arise out of almost anything but ideology. The case of Argentina is perhaps the most spectacular example in a long time of how ideologically fragmented today's world has become.
Who are Argentina's friends and suppliers in their war for the Falkland Islands?
The present regime in Argentina has been vigorous at home in its suppression of communism and has tolerated and abetted a campaign of anti-Semitism. Yet its main military suppliers have been the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Israel.
The explanation in the case of Argentina is largely trade. The Soviet Union takes 30 percent of all Argentine exports. This includes 75 percent of Argentine grain exports. Since July 1980 the Argentines have been under a contract to supply at least 4.5 million tons of grain annually to the Soviets. In April 1981 it signed another agreement to provide from 60,000 to 100,000 tons of boned beef.
Currently the Soviets are negotiating with Argentina over fishing rights and possible cooperative fishing operations in the Antarctic waters lying south of South America. Argentine fishing rights in this area would be substantially increased if Argentina were to obtain sovereign control over the Falkland Islands. In other words, Moscow has a potential industrial stake in an Argentine victory in the Falklands.
Then there is the ideological anomaly of Israel's role in the Argentine war. Israel has been selling weapons, including fighter aircraft, to the Argentines. It has agreed under pressure to refrain from signing any new contracts during the present war but has not agreed to suspend delivery under existing contracts.
Another possible reason for Israeli policy toward the Argentines is indicated by the fact that the neoconservative political movement in the US is both strongly pro-Israeli and pro-Argentine. This shows up in the fact that the controversial US chief delegate to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, is a member of the neoconservative group and pursues a strong pro-Argentine and pro-Israeli policy at the UN.
Why would a vigorous supporter of Israel also be pro-Argentine?
The one plausible explanation is that Buenos Aires is using the argument of prior possession for its claim on the Falkland Islands. This is the basis for Israel's claim on the West Bank in Palestine, which the Israeli government calls Judea and Samaria. If Argentina is justified in using force to reclaim lands it once possessed, then Israel has the same justification for taking lands away from their recent occupiers, the Arabs.
National and tribal interests and expediency explain the association of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Israel with Argentina's cause in the South Atlantic.