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April/May 1982 - Falklands/Malvinas LIHOP?

 
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SHERITON HOTEL
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: April/May 1982 - Falklands/Malvinas LIHOP? Reply with quote

[LIHOP = Let It Happen On Purpose - ed.]

I don't have any fresh information about the Falklands/Malvinas war but was just wondering how British intelligence missed the Argentine armada massing in their coastal ports at the time, especially as Argentina made no secret of their claim to the islands and intention to retake them. The Thatcher government, I understand, had withdrawn naval cover in the South Atlantic and changed the status of British commonwealth citizens giving the Galtieri regime inviting signals, Thatcher like the Bush regime greatly benefited from the conflict but in her defence , I've never seen someone bricking it so much on TV when the news came out.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Conservative party historically have not been a party of war in the same way as the Labour party has.
Clearly Thatcher did not expect for us to be attacked and quite rightly was surprised.
But thankfully we liberated the Falklands without too much bloodshed and atrocities.
Contrast that with Blair's colonial unprovoked wars of agression and genocide against sevral countries. Not forgetting the diamond raid in Sierra Leone and the Depleted Uranium bombing of Serbia.
A million dead Iraqis and a land contaminated for thousands of years.
Contrast that with Thatcher who avoided launching an offensive against Argentina and merely attacked the occupying forces with a minimum of fatalities.
There was no torturing of captured Argentine soldiers.
There was no hooding and shackling and holding for years without trial.

The liberation of the Falklands was a just war.
The invasion and genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan are war crimes.
Never muddy the water.

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SHERITON HOTEL
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah yeah, but isn't prevention better than cure? wouldn't it have been better if like the previous minority labour administration the tories had maintained the naval patrols round the Falklands/Malvinas?

I recall Thatch aiding Reagan in a terrorist strike against Gadaffi in Tripoli while the French rightly wouldn't allow US bombers use of French airspace after their launch in the UK on their murderous illegal mission,She was a hawk in the first Gulf war against her former ali Saddam and, of course, she ordered the sinking of the Belgrano outside the exclusion zone infamously celebrated in that filthy Murdoch rag and tory propaganda organ with the headline GOTCHA!.

Tony Bliar....Labour, Socialist? is this a joke?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As ever, there is more going on than karlos/stelios single-prism view of everything would have us believe.

First thing to appreciate is that there is no singular unitary dominant guiding power, but rather a series of factions and alliances that slither in and out of the spotlight circle of Global Power in an ever changing kaleidoscope as the factions' internal values change to suit their perceptions of what their own best interests are in an ever changing world, together with existing machinery already in motion. Think minefield.

So in March 1982, when the miltary junta running Argentina saw an opportunity with the withdrawal of a major portion of the British South Atlantic presence (the Endurance) it was perceived by them (alone) as a strategic signal, because they direly needed an external prop to buck up their failing economy and demoralised population. And so - claiming historical precedent as is usual with these things - they invaded with reported mass popular support.

In reality it was of course caused merely by a cost-cutting exercise by the busy little monetarist bees in the UK Treasury, busily stripping the government expenditure component of the GDP to double-plus prove the folly of (previous) socialism, and who couldn't see beyond the end of their annual balance sheets.

If it had happened in this decade, the Argentines would have no doubt prevailed and some convoluted excuse would have been devised for why they should.

However, unfortunately for them, in the 1980's the UK had available an operational strategic component of its airborne nuclear deterrent still active, which may or may not (but provenly could) nuke Buenos Aires, and in addition a Royal Navy designed to and strong enough to contain - or at least seriously challenge - the Russian threat to the Iceland gap and beyond.

The relevance of this is that the Royal Navy's Polaris (and now latterly Trident) submarine-bourne nuclear deterrent was operated by what is called a 'dual key' arrangement, meaning it requires explicit US approval before launch. Whereas the run-down but still existing remains of the V-Force, as demonstrated by the Vulcan that bombed the runway at Port Stanley, was wholly independent. Those 'Black Buck' Vulcan missions whose actual total results could have been achieved with a two Harrier jet strike were actually a signal to Galtieri of the Unthinkable comin'-a-knockin' if he continued.

In short, the UK didn't fold in the game of diplomacy poker, and as an added but wholly un-envisaged benefit, the Argentine military junta couldn't withstand the shame of its thwarted imperial adventure and instead folded itself shortly afterwards.

While the overall outcome may well have been heartening in retrospect (a civilian government is alway preferable to a military one), it should also be remembered that without support from the fascist Pinochet in Chile (hence Thatcher and her minions' later support for him in his hour of need) none of it may have played out as the planners in London hoped or intended.

We may know what really happened about 2050 or so.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I recall on the basis of distant memory, the US and Argentine Navies had been holding joint exercises in the months previous to the Falklands conflict.
Much as with Saddam and Kuwait, the Argentinian admirals had been tipped the nudge and the wink by the Americans that Britain wouldn't do much if the Argentinians claimed their Malvinas physically. And the dupes went along with this
This was a contrived war aimed at saving Thatcher's ass. She was very unpopular when this war came out of the blue.
She needed to destroy traditional British values in order to open up the progress towards the NWO
The conflict was a deadly messy and constructed affair with an outcome never in doubt
A solid trigger for the destruction of the UK and the establishment of a servile service state via Blairism and the presently collapsing Brown-mediated state of affairs
As I recall it many UK servicemen were killed or seriously burned when a French Exocet missile hit a British ship, while hundreds of Argentinian sailors died when a retreating Argentinian vessel was sunk to the tune of Murdoch's Sun's "Gotcha"
This was a sick murderous contrivance in line with what we have seen since

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The outcome was never a foregone conclusion until the British had secured the landing grounds on the islands. If there had been a major disaster, for example the Argentine Exocets had hit their intended targets (the Canberra and Invincible), there would have been no way the British could have retaken the Falklands in the short term. A pretty risky stratagem to save political disaster I think.

What would have happened to Maggie's popularity if there had been a military disaster? Was the Conservative upsurge in popularity due to having won the war, or due to the war having been won at fairly low cost?

I have read suggestions however that the Admiralty was complicit in the decision to withdraw Endurance, maybe in the hope of an Argentine invasion? At a time when defence cuts were primarily hitting the Navy the hardest, maybe the Lordships felt this was the best way to prove the worth of the Navy? If that was the case it certainly worked, for example the sale of Invincible to Australia was cancelled in the aftermath of the war.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wepmob2000 wrote:
The outcome was never a foregone conclusion until the British had secured the landing grounds on the islands. If there had been a major disaster, for example the Argentine Exocets had hit their intended targets (the Canberra and Invincible), there would have been no way the British could have retaken the Falklands in the short term. A pretty risky stratagem to save political disaster I think.

What would have happened to Maggie's popularity if there had been a military disaster? Was the Conservative upsurge in popularity due to having won the war, or due to the war having been won at fairly low cost?

I have read suggestions however that the Admiralty was complicit in the decision to withdraw Endurance, maybe in the hope of an Argentine invasion? At a time when defence cuts were primarily hitting the Navy the hardest, maybe the Lordships felt this was the best way to prove the worth of the Navy? If that was the case it certainly worked, for example the sale of Invincible to Australia was cancelled in the aftermath of the war.

webmop - Pity you.The outcome was never in doubt
Cant you see a deadly spectacular in action?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That all depends on whether you think the Conservatives would have been able to get re-elected after a long, drawn out, and bloody war? The government was prepared to accept 10,000 British casualties, would the electorate have found this so appealing? If you consider British resources to fight a conventional war 8,000 miles away, at that time, it was incredibly risky. As it was ships like the Sheffield were sacrificed because our forces had no answer to Exocet.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dont try and engage me. This was all a little contrivance with disastrous consequences.As mote it be. It wasn't to be anything other.There is no dispute here. It turned out in the way as intended. Don't try and pretend there were variables.It was all part of the Thatcherite plot which ended when she wouldn't go along with the EU. Simple as that. End
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul wright wrote:
Dont try and engage me. This was all a little contrivance with disastrous consequences.As mote it be. It wasn't to be anything other.There is no dispute here. It turned out in the way as intended. Don't try and pretend there were variables.It was all part of the Thatcherite plot which ended when she wouldn't go along with the EU. Simple as that. End


Never let reams of evidence get in the way of fanciful tales and armchair 'historians' who always know better, the mighty Paul Wright has spoken so I shall now (head bowed) respectfully refrain from further discussion. Sorry for trying to engage in discussion on a forum. (You may wish to look up the word 'forum' in the OED) Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Feel free to engage with the rest of us.

wepmob2000 wrote:

Never let reams of evidence get in the way of fanciful tales and armchair 'historians' who always know better, the mighty Paul Wright has spoken so I shall now (head bowed) respectfully refrain from further discussion.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like LIHOP to me!

Imagine how different the 80s could have been if the Falklands/Malvinas war had never happened........
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CheshireOake wrote:
Looks like LIHOP to me!

Imagine how different the 80s could have been if the Falklands/Malvinas war had never happened........


I wonder what Thatcherism would had been like without the cushioning effect of the north sea oil revenues and being liberated from the need to buy foreign oil? Wasn't Gulf War I LIHOP? Bush made it clear he didn't have a defence pact with Kuwait encouraging Saddam to invade.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some people on the left say the Falklands war was about oil - but if so - where's the oil now, 25 years after the war?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that it is over $100 a barrel and North Sea oil is running out perhaps we will soon find out. Don't forget during most of the last 25 years oil has been relatively cheap and was less than $10 a barrel for quite a while, after the peak of over $30 a barrel in the early eighties. In fact at $100 a barrel it is about the same as it was 25 years ago allowing for inflation. It has not been necessary nor economical to exploit KNOWN reserves in the south Atlantic - until now.
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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: 'Intellect failure permanent feature of UK govt' Reply with quote

'Intellect failure permanent feature of UK govt'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-5-XIXj2tA

Link

It's exactly three decades after the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk in the first major British attack of the Falklands war. RT sits down with historian and author Hugh Bicheno to discuss whether the conflict was worth it

Razor’s Edge: the Unofficial History of the Falklands War
‘It may seem impossible for anything original to appear about the Falklands War of 1982, so much has been written about it, but Hugh Bicheno’s book is that thing. His depiction of the origins and direction of the war is exhilaratingly politically incorrect . . . and whether they agree or not, readers will find this book gripping and discomfiting.’
John Keegan, Daily Telegraph
http://www.hughbicheno.co.uk/razors.html

‘Readers will by now perceive that Bicheno is not a mincer of words. He spares nobody. . . But he knows his stuff about how soldiers fight battles, and he has done us all a service by explaining them so well for a new generation.’
Max Hastings, Daily Mail

The working title was ‘Guilt, Complicity and Shame’, which ended up being early chapter titles. I was an intelligence officer posted at the Buenos Aires embassy during the 1970s and knew very well that the war came about because of the cowardly bad faith of the policy pursued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) under successive British governments, from Harold Wilson to Margaret Thatcher inclusive. Anticipating that the announced ‘Official History’ would continue the process of whitewashing begun by the shameless Franks Report of 1983, I decided to tell it like it was. Although the old lie about an ‘intelligence failure’ still circulates, it has been a source of pride to me to note that since Razor’s Edge was published the politicians who for twenty-five years sheltered behind the falsehood began to admit that they were better informed than they thought it convenient to mention when events were still fresh in the public mind.

It was also an outstanding epic of arms and I was surprised to discover that nobody had thought to marry the many published accounts by British and Argentine participants. In Buenos Aires I had shared an office with an FCO colleague, Howard Pearce, probably the most honest man I have ever known. Fortuitously his last posting was as Governor of the Falkland Islands, which gave me another good reason to visit the islands. The happy occasion of his marriage later in 2003 led to a return visit, and as a result I was able to explore the battlefields in great detail and to assemble the mosaic of participants’ recollections on the framework of the eloquent terrain.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Israel sold weapons to Argentina at height of Falklands War, reveal declassified Foreign Office files
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/23/israel-sold-weapons-to-arge ntina-at-height-of-falklands-war-reve/

Landing Ship Logistic RFA Sir Galahad
RFA Sir Galahad after being set ablaze by bombs dropped from Skyhawks during the Falklands War.
David Blair, chief foreign correspondent 24 AUGUST 2016 • 6:34AM
Israel sold weapons to Argentina at the height of the Falklands War in 1982, according to newly declassified Foreign Office files.
British diplomats cited evidence that Israel had supplied the Argentine military junta with arms that were used against the Task Force during the campaign to liberate the islands.
Israeli military exports before the war included the Skyhawk jets that would later be used to bomb British warships, killing dozens of soldiers, sailors and marines.
Four British warships were sunk by bombs dropped from Skyhawks, including RFA Sir Galahad, a troop carrier that was set ablaze while anchored in Bluff Cove, killing 48 sailors and soldiers. Simon Weston, the badly burned veteran, was among the survivors. Another four ships were damaged by Skyhawks.
Prince Charles talking to Guardsman Simon Weston of the Welsh Guards
Prince Charles talking to Guardsman Simon Weston of the Welsh Guards

A book published in Argentina in 2011 exposed how Israel armed General Galtieri’s junta, dispatching weaponry to Buenos Aires on secret cargo flights routed through Peru. The Foreign Office files provide further evidence.
The documents state that Israeli military exports to Argentina continued after the Falklands War and were still happening in 1984. By then, Israel had abandoned its previous policy of denying that any weapons sales were taking place.
Instead, the country’s argument was that deals with Argentina were essential to sustain its domestic arms industry – and Britain was also supplying munitions to Israel’s enemies in the Arab world.
A memorandum from C.W. Long, then head of the Near East and North Africa Department at the Foreign Office, states: “Israel was one of the few countries to supply Argentina with arms during the Falklands conflict and has continued to do so.”
Israeli Air Force A-4 Skyhawk
Israeli Air Force A-4 Skyhawk
The document, released by the National Archives and dated Nov 16, 1984, adds that Israel was, at that time, poised to sell Argentina spy planes designed to gather electronic and signals intelligence. The document states that Sir Geoffrey Howe, then foreign secretary, had personally asked Israel’s government not to go ahead.
But Mr Long thought Israel would pay no attention. “I do not believe the Israelis are to be moved on this issue,” he writes.
“This is not satisfactory, but Israeli interests in Argentina will outweigh any readiness they might otherwise feel to be helpful to us.”
The document is filed alongside a copy of an article from a specialist journal stating that Israel had sold Skyhawk jets to Argentina’s air force before the Falklands War.
In his book, Operation Israel, the Argentine journalist Hernan Dobry writes that Israel provided the spare parts and long range fuel tanks needed to keep these aircraft in action against the Task Force. When British diplomats confronted their Israeli counterparts with evidence of arms sales, they were met with blanket denials.
The official history of the Falklands War, written by Lawrence Freedman, states: “British troops entering Port Stanley at the end of the war came across Israeli equipment.”
The Falkland Islands - by numbersThe Falkland Islands - by numbersPlay!01:03

Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, had begun his career as commander of the Irgun, the Jewish underground which fought the British in Palestine in the 1940s.
A fellow Irgun fighter, Dov Gruner, was hanged by the British in 1947. In Operation Israel, Mr Dobry suggests Begin saw arming Galtieri as a way of exacting revenge against Britain. After authorising the sale of weapons during the Falklands War, Begin reportedly said: “Dov up there is going to be happy with the decision.”

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Declassified UK
Margaret Thatcher’s secret dealings with the Argentine military junta that invaded the Falklands
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-01-29-margaret-thatchers- secret-dealings-with-the-argentine-military-junta-that-invaded-the-fal klands/
By Grace Livingstone• 29 January 2020

Argentinian military junta leaders, Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla (centre) and Navy Commander, Emilio Massera (second left) during their swearing-in ceremony at the Rosada Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 24 March 1976. (Photo: EPA / Prensa Latina)
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is often lauded in the UK for standing up to the Argentine military junta during the Falklands War, but declassified British documents show that her government had far more cordial relations with this regime than her wartime rhetoric suggests.

British ministers and diplomats sought to enhance commercial and political relations with the Argentine dictatorship which took power in Buenos Aires in a military coup in March 1976. The then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, held a friendly meeting with a leading member of the junta in Downing Street in 1980 while Britain’s ambassador in Argentina regarded the promotion of human rights as an “irritation”.

The UK government even invited to London the former head of the Argentine Navy, who was responsible for the torture and disappearance of thousands of people in Buenos Aires.

Viewing arms exports to the military junta as a priority, the Thatcher government violated its own guidelines on arms sales, approving licences for weapons that could be used for internal repression and that posed a threat to the Falkland Islands. Just four days before Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands in April 1982, the British government was trying to sell the regime bomber airplanes.

The scale of the atrocities committed by the Argentine military government of 1976-83 was greater than any South American dictatorship in history. Thousands of people were tortured in secret detention centres, their bodies dumped in mass graves or thrown from military helicopters into the Atlantic Ocean.

A truth commission documented 8,960 cases of people who simply “disappeared”; Argentine human rights groups believe the number could be as high as 30,000.

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) had evidence of abuses being perpetrated within months of the 1976 coup. By the time Thatcher came to office in 1979, the barbaric nature of the junta was clearly known to the outside world.

Nevertheless, her government immediately restored a British ambassador to Buenos Aires and ended a refugee programme for Latin Americans fleeing persecution, which had been introduced by the previous Labour government.
Members of the Argentine human rights group Madres de Plaza de Mayo gather 24 March, 2000, in Buenos Aires on the 24th anniversary of the coup which brought the military to power in 1976. The group brought a giant blanket emblazoned with the photos of thousands who disappeared during the dictatorship. (Photo: Marcon Adandia)

Meetings of minds

The junta’s finance minister, José Martínez de Hoz, was invited to meet Thatcher in Downing Street on 5 June 1980. Martínez de Hoz was the architect of the regime’s “free-market” economic strategy and was a great admirer of Thatcherism.

Planned as a brief courtesy call, the meeting overran, according to declassified FCO documents. Martínez de Hoz described his policies as “very similar to those being pursued by the prime minister”. Thatcher later wrote to him saying she had very much enjoyed the meeting.

Martínez de Hoz also had a cordial meeting with Conservative trade ministers Cecil Parkinson and John Nott, which was – a civil servant noted — “very much a meeting of minds”.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe, told Martínez de Hoz, who represented a regime that had banned independent trade unions and killed hundreds of shop stewards, that “in the UK, trade unions had become one of the major fossilisers of the economy”.

On his return home, the Argentine finance minister professed himself “delighted” with the “welcoming atmosphere” he had encountered during his visit to London.

In total, Martínez de Hoz made four visits to the UK during the dictatorship years, under both Labour and Conservative governments. He was feted by British business executives including representatives of British Aerospace (now BAE), GEC, Shell, Rolls-Royce and Plessey.

He was also lionised by British diplomats. The British chargé d’affaires in Buenos Aires described Martínez de Hoz as “the most encouraging and attractive personality produced by Argentina since the war”.

Martínez de Hoz resigned in 1981 after his experimental policies sparked one of Argentina’s worst financial crises in modern history. After the fall of the dictatorship, he was indicted for human rights abuses. Rearrested on charges of kidnapping and extortion in 2010, he died under house arrest in 2013.
Former economy minister of the Argentine dictatorship José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz—who was later indicted for human rights abuses—in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2003. He had a cordial meeting with Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street on 5 June 1980. (Photo: EPA/Enrique García Medina)

The ‘irritation’ of human rights

The new British ambassador, Anthony Williams, who arrived in Buenos Aires in February 1980, wrote in one of his first diplomatic reports: “Argentina is a very interesting market, as British businessmen are coming to realise.”

He later added: “Five years of sobering military administration has made Argentina a much more possible country to deal with.” But he lamented that, “The need to be sufficiently active on the human rights front to satisfy public and parliament opinion in the UK will still be a continuing, though minor, irritation.”

David Joy, a counsellor in Britain’s embassy in Buenos Aires, was even more effusive about the dictatorship, writing in March 1982:

“Although I am all for human rights… I am already beginning to have more than a sneaking suspicion that the country is more likely to progress materially under the present regime which re-established order and government, than any government elected by the rabid communist/left-wing Peronist taxi driver who drove me to the office this morning.”

He added: “It does seem to me that the best policy for an Argentine government today to pursue is that of gradual – even very gradual – liberalisation. The pure air of democracy, applied too early, could well result in a further bout of inebriation.”

As part of the drive to do business with the junta, Cecil Parkinson visited Buenos Aires in August 1980, the first British minister to visit Argentina since the coup. Parkinson had a personal audience with the head of the junta, General Jorge Rafael Videla, and met all of the regime’s key economic ministers.

British officials had taken care to ingratiate themselves with their hosts, suggesting Parkinson give a book outlining Conservative party philosophy, signed by Thatcher, to the Argentine trade minister. Officials noted that the visit took place “in a notably cordial atmosphere”. The following year, a second British minister, Peter Walker, visited Argentina.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (2-L) and Falkland Island Representative in Britain Sukie Cameron (L) listen to a short service by Canon Lucy Winkett (R) to mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War, at St Pauls Cathedral, London, 2 April 2007. (Photo: EPA/Cathal McNaughton)

Arming the dictatorship

Both Thatcher’s government and the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan (1974-79) sold arms to the Argentine dictatorship.

Among the arms deals agreed by Labour were two Type 42 destroyers, two Lynx helicopters, 42 Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles, 100 Seacat and Tigercat surface-to-air missiles, a Blowpipe anti-aircraft missile system and 77 submachine guns for the army, navy and police.

The Lynx helicopters (1979), the second Type 42 destroyer (1980) and the Sea Dart missiles (1981) were delivered to the junta under the Thatcher government.

Just before leaving office in 1979, the Labour government, under pressure from human rights groups, introduced guidelines recommending that licences should not be granted for arms that could be used for internal repression or that posed a threat to the Falkland Islands – a former British colony (now a British Overseas Territory) in the South Atlantic, claimed by Argentina.

Soon after becoming prime minister, however, Thatcher told her ministers that “a more determined effort must be made to sell more defence equipment overseas” and a cabinet committee agreed to remove “political constraints” on arms sales.

When recommending approval for modification kits to enable Oerlikon guns to be fitted to Argentine armoured cars, the head of the FCO’s Latin America department, Robin Fearn, wrote in March 1981:

“Armoured personnel vehicles have clear implications for human rights and we might be criticised if we were to be involved at any stage in their construction or armament. It is, however, unlikely that our involvement would ever become known.”

Despite knowing that the Argentine regime was responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of its citizens, Thatcher’s government approved licences for an ex-RAF Vulcan bomber, Centaur armoured cars, a Vickers battle tank, eight more Lynx helicopters, a Stingray torpedo, a shipborne torpedo launching system, Linescan airborne surveillance equipment, spares for Browning machine guns and Canberra bomber planes.

Most of this equipment was not delivered to the junta because arms trading was frozen when Argentine forces invaded the Falklands. Yet the licences had all been given ministerial approval and clearly violated the UK government’s own guidelines.

Just four days before the invasion of the Falklands, on 29 March 1982, a British military attaché in Buenos Aires informed London that he planned to meet the secretary-general of the Argentine air force the following week to discuss the sale of bomber aircraft.

He wrote that the regime had “an interest in acquiring [an] extra squadron of bombers during the 1980s” and that the “relationship with BAE has undoubtedly improved”. He added: “If all goes well here BAE could move further up the class in time.”
Argentine Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera was responsible for the torture and disappearance of thousands of people at the notorious naval mechanical school in Buenos Aires. He met Foreign Office minister Nicholas Ridley in London in October 1979. (Photo: EPA/Telam Handout)

Commercial interests

The Thatcher government also invited several Argentine military officers to Britain, including one of the regime’s worst human rights abusers.

Admiral Emilio Massera, the head of the Argentine Navy, was responsible for the torture and disappearance of thousands of people at the notorious naval mechanical school in Buenos Aires. He had retired in 1978 but remained an influential figure on the Argentine political scene.

Massera met Foreign Office minister Nicholas Ridley in London in October 1979. The Foreign Office hosted a lunch for Massera at the Savoy hotel and among the invitees was the British Admiral of the Fleet, Peter Hill-Norton. “Massera seemed a little taken aback at the effort to which we had gone,” reported one Foreign Office official.

Large Argentine military delegations attended the Farnborough air shows and British army exhibitions in the Thatcher years and several Argentine officers were trained in Britain: more than 80 attended courses in 1980 and 67 in 1981.

When an FCO official enquired on 30 March 1982, three days before the invasion of the Falklands, whether such training places should be withdrawn to convey a signal of displeasure to Argentina, the defence department of the Foreign Office replied: “Any action in this area would risk damaging UK commercial interests.” DM

Grace Livingstone is a journalist and an affiliated lecturer at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, UK, and the author of Britain and the Dictatorships of Argentina and Chile, 1973-82 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), paperback edition to be published in March 2020.

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