Was the Falklands War a Success or a Failure for Thatcher's Administration?

4841 Words Apr 14th, 2013 20 Pages
Was the Falklands War a political success or failure for the - Thatcher government? -

On 2 April 1982, the British political system was rocked by news of an extraordinary event eight thousand miles away in the South Atlantic. A long-standing and thorny dispute with Argentina over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands – a tiny relic of empire proximate to the South American mainland – had erupted with a sudden and unprovoked invasion of British territory by Argentine forces. Britain’s Conservative government faced the greatest crisis in foreign affairs for a generation (Freedman, 1988). Behind this audacious Argentine manoeuvre laid the assumption that the British Government – struggling with union strife, plunging
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By the 1960s, the territory had all but outlived its commercial and strategic usefulness; its defence was financially untenable; and they caused a tremendous strain on British-Argentine relations. Relinquishing this imperial hangover to the nation that so passionately demanded its sovereignty seemed a perfect solution and, indeed, successive British governments have indicated a willingness to oblige (Jenkins, 2007). The difficulty, however, was that this most obvious of remedies has always contravened the expressed wishes of the local population, who consider themselves wholly British. This clash of interests hatched a string of dilatory and rather confused policy initiatives, on the one hand assuring British rule to the Islanders whilst, at the same time, discussing a future transfer of sovereignty with Argentina (Sharp, 1999). Hence, by the time Thatcher came to power in 1979, Argentina’s patience had worn thin, indeed, its national press were signalling dire consequences for Britain’s continued filibustering. To break this uneasy deadlock, Thatcher’s new Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, proposed a compromise termed ‘leaseback’, which asserted Britain would concede sovereignty to Argentina on the condition that a British administration then be permitted to govern the Islands – hence protecting the lifestyles and freedoms of the local inhabitants (Freedman, 1988). With Thatcher’s government appearing prepared to relinquish the leftovers of empire – recently
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