The Falkland Islands War: Two Bald Men Fighting For A Comb

2048 words - 8 pages

The Falkland Islands, or the Malvinas as they are known throughout the Spanish speaking world, are a chain of islands almost 500 kilometers off the cost of Argentina . Over the course of history the islands have been the subject of many disputes; first between the British and the Spanish and later between the British and the Argentines. From the discovery of the islands in the early 17th century until 1833, the custody of the islands shifted back and forth between the British and the Spanish/Argentines. In 1892, the Falkland Islands were granted official British colonial status. Starting around 1933 a strong sense of nationalism emerged in Argentina and many felt that Argentina should control the islands. In 1965, the United Nations forced Britain and Argentina to conduct negotiations that were still ongoing when war broke out in 1982. The conflict in 1982 arose when Argentine scrap metal workers were escorted by Argentine military troops onto South Georgia Island and in an act of defiance and patriotism, raised the Argentine flag. With inflation over 600%, the GDP down 11.4%, manufacturing output down 22.9% and real wages down more than 19%, Argentina was in a deep economic recession. Not to mention the mass disappearance of thousands of Argentine government critics resulting in riots erupting in the streets of the capital, Buenos Aires. The Argentine military junta officially decided on March 26, 1982 to invade the island chain, they did this primarily to distract attention away from the internal problems of the country. Argentine President Leopoldo Galtieri launched the invasion on April 2nd and the British occupants were easily defeated. The popularity of General Galtieri's government immediately rose and the riots ceased. The United Nations swiftly passed Resolution 502 which called for immediate Argentine withdrawal from the Falklands. This warning was ignored by the military junta which instead, conscripted thousands of young men and sent over 10,000 troops to the islands. On April 8th, United States Secretary of State Alexander Haig arrived in London to begin shuttle diplomacy. On April 10th, the European Economic Community imposed harsh trade sanctions against Argentina . By April 30th, Haig's shuttle diplomacy talks had stalled and US president Ronald Reagan threw full support behind England and imposed economic sanctions of their own. On May 2nd, the Peruvian President presented a peace proposal, Argentina conditionally accepted but the British sank the ship General Belgrano outside of the exclusion zone and the junta rejected the proposal. The undeclared war lasted 72 days with a death toll exceeding 1000 lives and a financial cost of at least $2 billion.Despite many signs pointing to a quick and decisive Argentine victory, the British were able to defeat the Argentine military in the Falklands in 1982. This begs the question: why were the British so easily able to overcome the Argentine military in the Falklands? Some have argued...

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