Imagine, for a moment, the Admiralty’s nightmare scenario: in the not-too-distant future, a nearly bankrupt Argentine government invades the oil-rich Falkland Islands. For the second time in half a century, Las Malvinas—the islands of Latin America regarded as a stolen piece of Argentina—spark a war meant to divert public attention from the Argentine government’s economic failings.
With twenty-first century budget cuts biting hard, Britain has no aircraft carrier. Argentina retired its own carrier in the late 1960s. Yet, unlike 1982, when Margaret Thatcher dispatched a flotilla to retake the islands, this time the South Atlantic is anything but empty. It’s home to a Brazilian carrier, the São Paulo, along with a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines being built in partnership with Argentina.
In effect, these weapons give Brazil the ability to impose an updated version of the Monroe Doctrine on regional waters. Call it the “Lula Doctrine.”
With its new confidence and military ambition, Brazil is a vocal advocate of Argentina’s claim on Las Malvinas. While few can imagine Britain and Brazil ever coming to blows, signs of a very different reality for Britain are starting to take shape.