As the 25th anniversary of British victory in the Falklands War approaches, it is maybe time to take stock of the nature of the war, and its lasting effects on the rest of the world. And I don’t just mean returning democracy to Argentina.
First of all, any remembrance of war must begin by remembering the British and Argentinian dead. Whenever war is discussed, these are the deterring statistics that must be foremost in our minds.
HOW THE WAR WENT
As with most wars, the Falklands War was caused by a miscalculation - in this case the Argentinian Junta, hoping to divert the people from internal strife. The miscalculation came in believing that Britian had neither the will, nor capability, to respond.
The following operation was an incredible feat of logistics and sheer daring, sending a force 8,000 miles at short notice, without adequate air cover, nor the capability to attack air bases in Argentina itself.
With vital tents and helicopters destroyed early on, an old-fashioned infantry war liberated the capital of Port Stanley, with British soldiers walking to battle and sleeping out in the South Atlantic winter. It was arguably the last war of its kind.
HOW IT CHANGED THE WORLD
In effect the Falklands War was the last colonial war, an aberration to the continuance of history – a small bush war of seemingly no importance to anyone except Argentina and Britain. But arguably the war proved to be much more influential than this.
People will no doubt disagree, but I will offer two areas where the war was essential. First of all, it guaranteed Thatcher’s continuance as British Prime Minister, allowing her to place in Britain the changes that led to the UK adopting a globalization model. Without this success on one side of the Atlantic, it is doubtful it would have happened on the other.
A second effect was the importance of the symbol of British action. The Soviet Union was becoming convinced that the west had lost its will to fight. Britain itself was thought to be the most inefficient army in NATO, effectiveness reduced by cut-backs. The achievement by the British gave the Soviets a shock.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT
The Falklands War is proof that nothing happens in isolation in an integrated world. Every event has effects in many places and in many areas of activity. A seemingly simple war with nothing of importance to the rest of the world went on to arguably change the world.
The fall of the Soviet Union and the advance of globalization can both be partially laid at the door of the Falklands War. For the former we should rejoice. As for the latter? Well, the Brits cannot get everything right, can they?
© Anthony North, June 2007
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