Why is it so hard for countries to give up on trivial land claims ?


Why risk wars or economic embargos on almost worthless lands or uninhabited islands.
Wouldn’t be better to give up claims and start a good relations that could benefit both countries ?

In: Other

Maritime laws give fishing rights to something like 200 miles surrounding each island. Even if the island is an uninhabited rock in the middle of the ocean, a country would have 400 miles of fishing rights. That might be a difference that would turn the tables from contemplating giving up vs it being worth fighting to keep.

To use a real world example Argentina has claimed that the Falkland Islands belong to them for decades, escalating to invading the islands in the 80’s resulting in the Falkland’s war.

The islands were initially uninhabited and today maintains a British colony of roughly 4000 people. Very few if any Argentinians live on the island.

To the Argentinians owning the islands is a point of pride, they saw the British colony on the island as an invading force and decried the continued British presence on the islands.

The Islands however don’t have much value aside from the territorial claim. The actual reason for the Argentinian claim and continued saber rattling over them is likely a political ploy by the ruling military government to distract the population away from ongoing internal civil problems.

Give up a small island today, and there’ll be claims on a bigger one tomorrow. Shift the border 10 miles today, and there’ll be another 10 miles disputed next year. Good relations are just as possible when lands are in dispute as when borders are settled. When bad relations exist, it’s because someone is benefiting from having bad relations – the land dispute is a convenient excuse, but if it wasn’t that, it would be something else.

I assume part of the reasoning for this question is the Azerbaijan-Armenian war.

Realistically, the symbolic value of Nagorno-Karabakh far outweighs its value as useful land. In fact, the entire war can be contributed to national pride of both regimes.

The land that’s being claimed might be a worthless pile of sand and rocks. By giving up a claim, you potentially set a precedent for appeasement, history has shown that policy doesn’t work.

Second, land gives you access to resources, such as fresh water, minerals underground, including oil and gas. Plus as others have noted the seas around the land include fish and potentially more undersea oil and gas. And there might be strategic value to controlling the waters and land.

For example, in Israel, the Golan heights are relatively unimportant land that they seized from Syria during the six day war. The land itself was relatively unimportant, at the time of the war, it’s only value was the altitude advantage it gave for artillery into major Israeli cities. And the fresh water that feeds into the river Jordan. Today, it’s home to a lot of Israeli and Syrian people, and there is potential for oil underground.

In China, the Scarborough shoals barely qualified as a pile of sand that occasionally didn’t even go above sea level. But by controlling it, and adding concrete and dirt, it’s now an artificial island that’s been militarized. By controlling a pile sand, they get a stronger claim to shipping lanes, fishing and potentially oil in an area where multiple countries have overlapping claims to the waters.

Look at the american presidential election, no candidate admits when he lied. They are too proud and dont want to look weak.