Javier Milei Seems Intent on Embroiling Argentina in War, Whether in Ukraine or the Middle East (Or Both)

Argentina “cannot be neutral in the Third World War.”

When tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran exploded this past weekend following Tehran’s retaliatory strike against strategic targets in Israel, most governments in Latin America struck a relatively neutral position, expressing their concern about a possible escalation of violence in the Middle East. Despite differences of opinion over who is most to blame for the rising tensions, there was almost unanimous agreement on the need for decisive measures to avoid further escalation.

But there was one striking exception: Javier Milei’s government in Argentina, which has expressed “solidarity and unwavering commitment to the State of Israel in the face of attacks initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.” To deal with the crisis, Milei cut short his international tour of the US and Europe, where he was scheduled to participate in an official ceremony to mark his government’s purchase of 24 almost 40-year old F-16 fighter jets from Denmark that the Danish government is retiring, prompting jokes that Milei’s government doesn’t have a peso to spare for Argentine pensioners but it has $300 million for Danish ones.

One of his first acts was to call a crisis committee to spearhead his government’s response to the Middle East conflict. The committee’s members included Argentina’s Defence Minister, Luis Petri, Vits ice President, Victoria Villarruel, and, controversially, Israel’s Ambassador to Argentina, Eyal Sela. Controversial because the meeting was supposedly intended to analyze the risks Argentina may face as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East, yet Sela represents the interests of one of the two countries directly involved in that conflict.

As veteran journalist Jorge Lanata put it, “it really doesn’t matter whether Milei is worried or not about Israel. What matters is that a foreign ambassador, whether from Israel or Belgium, I don’t care, is in a cabinet meeting in Argentina. It seems to me that there are basic standards to uphold.”

As the controversy grew around Sela’s participation in the meeting, the government tried to memory hole the whole debacle by claiming that the Israeli ambassador had not actually attended the meeting after all, as it itself had claimed just a day earlier, but had merely participated in a preliminary session before making his departure. This was despite multiple  official photos showing Sela sitting just two seats away from Milei.

Some sources even claim that Sela kicked off the meeting, as if he were its chair, with a summary of the current state of play in Israel, none of which would come as any great surprise. Once the meeting was over, Milei’s spokesman, Manuel Adorni, told a press conference that “Argentina emphatically supports the State of Israel in defense of its sovereignty.” He then handed the mike to Sela who thanked Milei on behalf of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Isaac Herzog “for his clear and resounding condemnation of Iran and for being on the right side of history and the facts.”

No Neutrality in a Third World War

Milei himself said in an off-screen comment that Argentina “cannot be neutral in the Third World War,” according to the veteran TV news presenter Nelson Castro. His government released the following official statement (translation my own):

The office of President Javier Milei expresses its solidarity and unwavering commitment to the State of Israel, in the face of the attacks initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Argentine Republic recognises the right of Nation-States to defend themselves, and emphatically supports the State of Israel in the defence of its sovereignty, especially against regimes that promote terror and seek the destruction of Western civilization.

We recall that on Thursday April 11, the federal court of appeals ruled that the attacks against the Israel Embassy and the AMIA (Mutual Argentina-Israel Association) were perpetrated by Hezbollah under the aegis of Iranian State organisations.

As the President of the Nation has said, Argentina has adopted a new foreign policy that is based on the defense of Western values ​​and a common vision of the world in defense of life, liberty and private property.

The State of Israel is a bulwark of Western values in the Middle East and Argentina will always be at its side in the face of those intent on its extermination.

No Surprise

The Milei government’s unquestioning support of Israel, even as it has committed a host of war crimes in Gaza, including genocide, should not come as a surprise. On the campaign trail, foreign policy may have been overshadowed by economic concerns, but Milei made it abundantly clear where his geopolitical allegiances would lie if he won the election. He said he would cancel Argentina’s entry to the BRICS alliance, which he has done. He would also cool relations with Argentina’s two largest trade partners, Brazil and China, while emphatically aligning the country with the US and Israel. And he has done exactly that.

Since coming to power just over four months ago, Milei’s government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States allowing members of the US Army Corps of Engineers to operate along the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway, including large parts of the river Plata basin, upon which roughly 80% of all Argentine exports travel. A couple of weeks ago, he traveled 3,000 kilometres to meet up with General Laura Richardson, the commander of US Southern Command — someone of lower rank to him — in Ushuaia, on the southern tip of Tierra de Fuego. There, the two announced the establishment of a joint naval base that would allow Argentina and the US to control this key entry point to Antarctica.

As readers may recall, the director of the CIA William J Burns paid Buenos Aires a rare visit a few weeks ago. Senior Mossad agents have also apparently been in town, as too have members of the BND, or German intelligence. Out of these meetings between senior spooks and government officials came an agreement that Argentina will conduct intelligence on terrorism threats, primarily from Hezbollah, drug trafficking and the “Triple Frontier,” a tri-border area along the junction of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where the Iguazú and Paraná rivers converge. It was also agreed that Argentina’s domestic intelligence agency would be subject to greater control by the military.

Jewish Heritage?

Milei, a Roman Catholic by upbringing, has a particular fondness for both Judaism and Israel. Not only does he want to convert to Judaism when he leaves politics, he recently claimed to have Jewish heritage. In February, he visited Israel where he wailed at the wall, danced and sang with Israeli settlers as Israeli bombs rained down on Gaza, and unveiled plans to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, making Argentina only the sixth country to do so after the US, Guatemala, Honduras, Kosovo and Papa New Guinea.

On the international trip he just cut short, Milei travelled with his sister, Karina, to Miami where they were both recognised as “International Ambassadors of Light” by the city’s Chabad Lubavitch community, largely because of their support for Israel. They then visited Tesla’s Giga Plant in Texas to meet with Elon Musk, who covets Argentina’s vast lithium deposits. Unlike in Bolivia five years ago, a coup was not necessary this time.

Milei has long had close ties to the Chabad Lubavitch movement, a highly influential branch of Hasidism, an orthodox transnational movement that emerged in Eastern Europe in the late 18th and early 19 centuries. As La Politica Online (LPO) reported in late November, just after he was elected president, Milei studies the Torah with Axel Wahnish, a Buenos Aires-based Lubavitch rabbi who is now Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, and has visited the tomb of “the Lubavitch Rebbe”, the leader of the Chabad Lubavitch dynasty, twice in the past year.

Milei’s government has rejected claims that its overt support for Israel will make Argentina a popular target for terrorist attacks such as those it suffered in 1992 and 1994, both of which have been attributed to Hizbollah and its primary backer, Iran.

“We do not believe that standing up to an international problem makes us a target or that it will change the situation in this country that has already suffered two attacks,” presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni told reporters. What Adorni fails to mention, as an article in Cronista notes, is that those two attacks, in 1992 and 1994, came after Carlos Menem’s government had cemented its alignment with the United States by sending two military frigates to participate in the US-led Gulf War. On the grand chessboard, these actions can have consequences.

At that time at least, Argentina was one of 30 countries taking part in the military campaign. By contrast, the Milei government’s full-throated, uncritical support of Israel is almost unique in the word today. While support for the Neyanyahu regime has plummeted in most quarters, Argentina under Milei has not only stopped voting in favour of a ceasefire in Gaza, it has stopped condemning any crimes Israel commits in the ravaged enclave, where more than 33,000 people — mainly women and children — have been killed, according to official figures.

Weapons, Or Even Troops, to Ukraine?

Milei is intent on embroiling Argentina not only in the escalating tensions of the Middle East, but also in the meat grinder that is Ukraine. For just over two years, Latin America has refused to fall in line with the Collective West’s demands on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with just one country, Costa Rica, actually agreeing to apply the sanctions against Russia. For over a year, nine countries in the region, including Argentina, rebuffed the repeated exhortations from NATO members to donate or sell their Russian-made weaponry to Ukraine. But that is now over.

The new Daniel Noboa government in Ecuador recently offered to give up its Russian-made arms to Ukraine, only to furiously backtrack when Moscow threatened to stop buying Ecuador’s number-one export product, bananas. As for Milei, he plans to go to Ukraine during his tour of Europe in June, which would make him the first Latin American leader to visit the war-torn country since hostilities began. He has also been invited by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to participate in the G7 summit in Orgo Egnazia between June 13 and 15. From LPO:

In statements on the radio Milei said that “the governments are in contact, our Minister of Defense is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities. We are going to help them in any way we can.” In addition, he confirmed that “a forum is going to be held in defence of Ukraine in Latin America.”

But the Head of State went even further, saying they are evaluating sending weapons to Ukraine. “It is something that Defense Minister Luis Petri is discussing with the Ukrainian authorities to see what we can collaborate on,” he said.

“We are designing a trip and the idea is that we go through Ukraine. We have to travel to the G7, I thank President (Giorgia) Meloni for inviting me, I also have to go to Madrid to receive the Juan de Mariana award, then to Germany to receive the medal of honor,” he explained…

The possibility of direct government intervention in the war is considered highly risky among Argentine diplomats. It would be like declaring war on Russia just at a time that many of Ukraine’s allies are beginning to get cold feet.

In an interview with CNN Español’s Andrés Oppenheimer, Milei even mentioned the possibility of sending military personnel into the meat grinder, a proposal that enjoys the support of just 21% of the population, according to a survey by the consultant Gustavo Córdoba. Any decision to send troops would have to go through Congress first, an unnamed diplomatic source told LPO. The same, however, is not true of sending arms.

In other words, the Milei government could soon send a consignment of weapons — including quite possibly Russian ordinance — and other aid to Ukraine in the next few months, which, of course, will have next to no material impact on the course of the war. This it will do despite having virtually no money in the bank and depending on credit lines from the IMF and, ironically, a currency swap with China just to make ends meet. As Milei talks up sending weapons to Ukraine, his government is slashing public spending and subsidies across the board, including for food banks and soup kitchens at a time when public demand for them is surging as a result of the government’s crushing austerity and triple-digit inflation.

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  1. Froghole

    How long will it be until Argentina tries to foment conflict with Boric, Lula and Lucho? Presumably the establishment of a base in Tierra del Fuego is to ‘choke’ trade between Brazil and China. That might make Bolivia and Chile more important as potential conduits for Chinese trade with Brazil, although how practical that would be in view of the formidable geographical obstacles is moot. Might this cause a revival of the territorial disputes between Argentina and Chile which were settled in 1984?

  2. The Rev Kev

    Looking at their table of equipment, there is not a lot that they can send the Ukrainians or the Israelis that would make a lot of difference. They do use 155 mm so there would be stocks of them but how much could they send without stripping their own arsenal bare? And their anti-air is nothing to write home about. For their Army, I cannot see any main gear purchased from Russia on that page but that might not apply to the gear that their Navy or Air Force has. To be honest, I would have thought that he would have wanted to get into a brawl with the UK over the Falklands or something equally stupid. But trying to get involved in maybe two conflicts 13,000 km (c.8,000 miles) is next level stupid. As we say out our way, I really do wonder if Milei is the full quid. If you told me that he will finish his days in a Buenos Aires nut house, I would not be surprised-


  3. vidimi

    Argentina voting in Milei is going to go down as one of history’s greatest acts of self-sabotage that a nation has ever done. A lot worse than Brexit. They were going to join BRICS, potentially reigniting their economy, and instead handed over the keys to a madman who has subordinated their interests to the US/Israel. They deserve him giving up the currency for the dollar, too.

    1. Gregorio

      It’s certainly amusing that a guy who claims to be a libertarian is so anxious to link his country to the Yankee fiat dollar and military/industrial complex. It would be interesting to put him in a room with Ron Paul.

  4. john r fiore

    Never in my life have I seen such a plethora of complete idiots “running” countries…now why would Argentina give up neutrality and the benefits of trade with all countries, especially China and Russia, in exchange for cornering itself with the worlds largest debtor nation…and morally, a devout Roman Catholic country supporting Israel’s slaughter in Gaza…and that whole chainsaw thing…since when could a chainsaw cut thru steel and concrete…nothing left to say….

    1. ThePunisher

      Argentinians always considered themselves an first-class European power, at the same level of Great Britain or Germany… their inflated ego is legendary in Latin-America. So, no surprise for the rest of Latin-American countries that such a showman was elected.

  5. jefemt

    Quick scan indicates a persistent use of the Definite Article, “The” referencing a third world war. I’m focusing on the finer detail, but it seems to be a theme, a self-fulfiller, a foregone conclusion?

    Been off-line for a few days- reading the many links and articles— the fundys, the red heifers, Hudson on Israel in the Viet Nam ‘programmatic’ approach to Israel and Gaza, Kushner beach-front and and Nat Gas, balance of payments petro dollars.

    My cup runneth over. Please, keep the matches away.

  6. ciroc

    Milei did not come to power in a coup; he is a democratically elected leader. If he has vowed to ruin Argentina, those who foolishly voted for him should follow suit.

    1. Carolinian

      Well he doesn’t sound very different from many members of our own Congress so perhaps we should ask the same question of American voters.

    2. JonnyJames

      Elections? The USA and Israel are purportedly democracies as well. The US voters have a “choice” between two senile sociopaths bent on funding genocide. There are only two parties and both are in total lock-step – Congress is looking to pass even MORE giveaways for Israel, Ukraine…and of course JB will sign off on it.
      That’s what is called meaningful choice and democratic accountability in the US, public opinion does not matter.

  7. Vesa

    The hardest thing to understand after Finlands NATO membership is why Argentine people voted for Millei. It just seems ti be so self-destructive. What the hell is happening in the West. Nordstream, Anna-Lena Bierbock, Boris Johnson… it makes me speechless.

    1. Jeff V

      I have only spoken to one Swede about NATO membership, and he was very relaxed about it.

      His view was that if Finland was going to join then Sweden should too. I don’t know any Finns, but hopefully their reason for joining wasn’t because Sweden was.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Finns don’t much talk about the issue – maybe because they were not asked if they actually wanted to join. It was a forced issue that probably violated both NATO rules and Finnish laws.

        So far only reasons I’ve heard are “Putin told us not to” (he didn’t, but that’s what disinformation does to people) and “we’re under the US nuclear umbrella now” (yeah, right…).

    2. Feral Finster

      Simple, give the voters a choice of carefully curated corporate imperialist muppets, doubtless with a nudge from one or more alphabet agencies.

      Then, when the voters select a corporate imperialist muppet, we hear it proclaimed with one voice that The Will Of The People Has Spoken.

  8. Mikel

    “Milei himself said in an off-screen comment that Argentina “cannot be neutral in the Third World War…”

    Well, then…say it out loud.

    Manuel Adorni, told a press conference that “Argentina emphatically supports the State of Israel in defense of its sovereignty.”

    No word about Argentina’s apparent lack of sovereignty.

    1. Nick Corbishley Post author

      Milei has actually claimed, with a straight face, that allowing the installation of a US military base in Usuahia is the greatest act of sovereignty of the last 40 years since it will strengthen Argentina’s territorial claims over the Antarctic. The scary thing is that many of his voters will believe him.

  9. JonnyJames

    Some weeks ago, I made an off-hand comment that Milei might as well be a CIA asset. A commenter ridiculed the idea – apparently the job of the CIA is to bake cupcakes for charity. Some believe that they have no track record of meddling in the political affairs of vassal states and such a suggestion was ludicrous.

    I have no proof other than he ticks off all the boxes of the Washington Consensus and all of his policies serve the interests of El Imperio Norteamericano, how very convenient.

    So if not an asset, he is doing a helluva job for his imperial overlords.

    Such a shame since Argentina has/had so much potential

    1. Feral Finster

      Not to discount the CIA, which we all know ever always only abides by the highest and most noble democratic principles and standards around the world, but most likely, none of that is necessary.

      Millei knows what to do without having to be instructed.

      1. JonnyJames

        Either way, he is doing a cracking job eh! Kind of ironic that he portrays himself as an independent, wannabe “tough guy” nationalistic sort. Yet he openly bends over for the imperial overlords and pretends no one is watching. As Nick Corbishley comments above: he makes totally contradictory and irrational statements with a straight face.

  10. Piotr Berman

    I was wondering why Denmark retires military jets at the age of 40 while citizens have to wait till 65 or 67? Then I realized that the jets in question were not offered retirement but basically subject of mass dismissal, so they will have work in Argentina for quickly depreciating wages, with no benefits they deserve for 40 years of work for the Kingdom of Denmark.

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