The British seized Gibraltar in 1704. Four centuries later, the Brits are still squatting on Spanish land, a 2.5 miles long and three-quarter mile wide isthmus jutting into the Mediterranean.
The UN General Assembly approved decolonization of the “Rock” in 1963. Yet the 28,000 Britishers in Gibraltar voted —hardly a surprise — to remain part of the British Empire.
Spineless Britain cannot say nay to a “vote of the people” so it perpetuates a colonial anachronism. It is the only such territory in Europe. Ditto for the Malvinas (Falklands), an archipelago of two large islands and 776 smaller ones on Argentina soil in the Strait of Magellan.
At various times, the island chain has had French, British, Spanish and Argentine settlements. But Britain declared ownership in 1833. A dispute flared in the 1950s when Argentine ruler Juan Peron asserted Argentine sovereignty. Britain was unmoved.
Then in the 1960s tension increased again when the UN passed a resolution on decolonization. But negotiations never got anywhere because the Brits insisted they were the rightful sovereigns. It took the position that since the Falkland Islanders — all 3,000 of them! — did not want a change there was no reason to do so.
The Falkland residents prevailed over justice.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain guaranteed the seizure with a mini-war in 1982. This latter-day colonialism was so macho the warmongering Brits re-elected a reactionary ruler.
The UK Guardian, liberal-leftist newspaper, dared to call the islands by their real name: Malvinas. For that truth-telling it was denounced in Britain for “defying national pride.”
Pocket stuffer’ loses
We have a do-nothing Congress but occasionally some of its committees do something wonderful like opposing Larry Summers in his bid to become chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
The result: he withdrew after the Senate Banking Committee made it plain that it contained too many no votes.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was among the key committee members leading the opposition. She is one of the precious few genuine liberals in the Senate, worthy of being the first woman president of the United States. (Which is why she never will be president.)
The Summers withdrawal opens the way for Janet Yellen, Fed vice-chair, to succeed Ben Bernanke.
Summers was one of President Obama’s economic advisers, serving government but preferring “to stuff his pockets” in the private sector. As columnist Maureen Dowd put it: “He is an exemplar of the obscenely lucrative revolving-door problem, part of the culture that ran the economy into the ground.”
That culture espoused Wall Street deregulation, bailouts for bankers who were “too big to fail” and outsourcing.
Summers, speaking to world business leaders in 2011, said they should not oppose offshoring. He likened critics to “Luddites who took axes to machinery early in England’s industrial revolution.”
U.S. firms are able to sell products cheaply because they are produced overseas. Workers there make something like 35 cents an hour and are terribly overworked. Out-sourced products are shoddy.
I bought a pair of slippers made in China. In several weeks the seams began to unravel. Soon they disintegrated into a worthless mess. I bought some belts made in Thailand. They gleamed but were stiff, containing more cardboard than leather.
Better to pay more for merchandise than buy shabby goods.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.