The Falkland Islands war of 1982 was the result of a centuries-long dispute between Argentina and Britain over the tiny, barren, windswept, icy territory. The Brits had ousted the few Hispanic settlers in the 1830s and since then the islands had been British in every respect except the opinion of Argentinians, who continue to refer to them as Las Malvinas.
The episode wisely sketches in the political background of this confrontation. It seemed to serve the purpose of both Margaret Thatcher, whose approval in Britain was poor, and General Galatieri, head of the military junta that ruled Argentina, and whose oppressive regime was opposed by many. So what do you do when your country is becoming polarized? You introduce a superordinate enemy. Galatieri invaded the Falklands and Thatcher responded by sending a fleet and elite ground troops, which recovered the islands. Thatcher became popular and the Argentine junta dissolved.
This program deals mostly with the battles themselves, costly for both sides, but the perspective is reasonably balanced, although unsurprisingly it's quietly pro-British.
Details are omitted. The first Argentine forces to occupy the islands were pointedly polite and gracious to the civilians and began the shift of ownership effectively. Eg., the British postal stamps would be replaced by Argentine. The currency would follow.
Not mentioned is the first British military retaliation, a bombing run by obsolete airplanes from a distant field designed to damage the runways and make them unsuitable for aircraft.
Thatcher appealed to President Ronald Reagan for assistance, but he claimed that Britain and Argentina were "both our friends" and offered to act as intermediary in negotiations. "Two thousand people on some bleak little rocks at the end of nowhere." A reminder from the Brits that they had helped 52 diplomatic staff to escape the embassy takeover in Iran was unavailing.
After Britain recovered the islands, Reagan appealed to Thatcher and asked her to be "magnanimous" in victory. Thatcher's response was a crack that shouldn't be translated on a site that innocent children might read. Anyone interested in these goings on might want to watch "The Falklands Play," available free on YouTube.
Today, the opinions on both sides remain the same. The only thing missing is the war. It's difficult to believe that thirty-four years have passed since these events.
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