Falklands 2.0: Anatomy of a Strategic Surprise

In what seems like a blast from the past, Argentina is raising the tone in its never-abandoned claim to the Falkland Islands. In all fairness, that sort of thing does tend to happen when ocean-bed oil reserves are discovered in disputed territorial waters. And for now, the first recourse mentioned is taking the matter to the U.N. So even if Argentina has warned it will take “all necessary steps” to defend its claim, a Falklands War 2.0 hardly seems imaginable today.

But then again, it hardly seemed imaginable the first time around, either.

No matter how the actual dispute does end up playing out, though, the scenario in the abstract seems like a plausible one for the kind of strategic surprise so many defense ministries have been worrying about recently: a middle-power president with popularity problems, a major-power military strained from almost a decade of constant deployment, and a territorial dispute involving lucrative resources. These are the sparks from which major conflagrations arise.