A 40-year-old war should not give China an arms-supply toehold in Latin America.
On April 2, 1982, the Argentine junta sent heavily armed marines to take possession of the Malvinas Islands, the South Atlantic chain held for a century and a half by Britain. London responded with force and retook the islands in a 72-day war that left 900 dead, material losses on both sides, and a foreign-policy hangover that today threatens to drive Argentina’s defense buyers into Chinese or Russian arms.
In recent years, various Argentine administrations have tried—and failed—to acquire foreign fighter aircraft to update the country’s aging Dessault Mirage III. But the British government has systematically pressed every Western country to deny the request. This leaves Buenos Aires with only Chinese or Russian options. Forty years after war, and with revisionist illiberal powers gaining influence in Latin America, Argentina must be allowed to join the nations that fly Western combat aircraft.