By Tony Patey in Britain:
Reagan bid to halt Falklands revealed
Friday 28 December 2012
New light was shed yesterday on the so-called special relationship between B-movie actor turned world leader Ronald Reagan and chemist turned warlord Maggie Thatcher during the 1982 Falklands war.
Public records released under the 30-year rule reveal that Reagan showed a rare ray of insight by making a last-ditch appeal to Thatcher, who had sent a full-scale task force right round the globe to retake the islands following the Argentinian invasion.
In an 11.30pm telephone call to 10 Downing Street on Monday May 31 1982 the then US president urged Thatcher to abandon her campaign and to hand over the islands to international peacekeepers.
Official files released by the National Archives at Kew show that as British troops closed in on final victory Reagan begged Thatcher not to completely humiliate the Argentinians.
Reagan, whose country officially remained neutral, told the Tory leader: “The best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation. As the UK now had the upper hand militarily, it should strike a deal now.”
Thatcher rejected his approach and ordered soldiers to fight until the occupying forces had been totally defeated.
Over the next two weeks more than 100 British troops died and around 150 mainly conscript Argentinian soldiers were killed.
Reagan, who had questioned whether the Falklands was really worth a war, faced a strategic dilemma during the conflict.
The US had a longstanding alliance with Britain, but by 1982 the far-right military junta in Argentina had become a cold war ally in Latin America as Washington sought to snuff out left-wing social movements.
The newly released files also revealed criticism of then dean of St Paul’s Rev Alan Webster for introducing notes of concern for Argentinian, as well as British, casualties in a thanksgiving service on July 26 1982 following the war’s end.
Argentinian deaths during the 74-day conflict reached 649, while 255 were killed among the British forces.
Three Falkland Islanders also died in the fighting.
The biggest single death toll came on May 2 1982 when a British nuclear-powered submarine sunk the light cruiser General Belgrano over 200 miles from the islands with the loss of 323 of its 1,090-strong crew.
Talking about Margaret Thatcher:
Red-faced Thatcher paid for son’s rescue
Friday 28 December 2012
An embarrassed Margaret Thatcher hurriedly repaid thousands of pounds of public cash used to save her playboy son from the Sahara desert, declassified files have revealed.
The penny-pinching former prime minister was busy wrecking the economy in January 1982 when her only son Mark disappeared while taking part in the Paris to Dakar rally.
Mr Thatcher and his French co-driver were found by the Algerian military after a six-day search.
The Algerian government footed the majority of the bill, but Britain was originally set to stump up £1,190.95 with Ms Thatcher contributing just £583.14.
But the “Iron Lady” scribbled a cheque to cover for her son’s racy lifestyle to head off a feared taxpayer rebellion.
Months later Ms Thatcher had to cough up for one final bill of £15.16 – for landing charges incurred by aircraft carrying her husband and son.
Thatcher memoirs detail PM’s anger at foreign secretary over Falklands. Previously unpublished memoirs reveal that Thatcher thought Frances Pym was combining with the Americans in attempt to outmanoeuvre her: here.
Newly released White House tape transcripts reveal how Ronald Reagan sought to mollify an angry Margaret Thatcher after the US invaded Grenada, part of the Commonwealth, without giving her advance warning: here.
- Files reveal Thatcher vetoed late Reagan bid to halt Falklands War (scotsman.com)
- Reagan’s Falklands plea to Thatcher (standard.co.uk)
- Thatcher was ready for Falkland Islands deal, National Archives papers show (guardian.co.uk)
- Secret files lift lid on Thatcher-Reagan Falklands contacts – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)
- Margaret Thatcher was furious over Irish support for Argentina on the Falklands War (irishcentral.com)
- Declassified documents: 1982 Argentinian invasion of the Falklands took Margaret Thatcher by surprise (rawstory.com)