Imperial legacy and Cold War rationale: the Anglo-American diplomacy and the Falklands war in 1982

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Abstract

In 1982, Argentina – a country allied with the US during the Cold War through the Rio Pact – invaded and seized the Falkland Islands, a long-time Overseas Territory of the British Empire. Thatcher, the UK Prime Minister, vigorously responded and London regained the Islands. Thatcher was supported by a powerful nationalist commitment and in the end she was diplomatically and military backed by the US. However, this was not axiomatic. At that time, the Anglo-American “special relationship” appeared strong. Thatcher and US President Reagan shared the churchillian idea of the fraternal association between their countries, and this was a catalyst of their personal relationship. Anyway, from a political perspective, this friendship was not enough to align automatically London and Washington in 1982. The bipolar rationale of the Cold War imposed many strains on the war in the South Atlantic. Not only Argentina was an important US ally in its hemisphere, but the Monroe Doctrine was still a cornerstone of the American foreign policy. Neoconservatives such as Kirkpatrick strongly supported the need of preserving the US exclusive hand over the Western hemisphere. Eventually, the war required a very hard choice to be made by Washington. At the beginning, it tried to maintain a neutral position with the US Secretary of State Haig’s “shuttle diplomacy”. But this was not successful and Washington decided to stand side-by-side with London, by risking damaging its position in Latin America. This “US tilt” met many controversies inside the administration. The President, assisted by the Secretary of Defense Weinberger, played a decisive role to reach the final decision. In Britain, Thatcher was very disappointed by US initial ambiguity. Only after having obtained a clear support from the White House and having left behind the risk of a diplomatic storm, the relationship between London and Washington returned warm.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteEmpires and Nations from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, Volume II
EditorG. Motta A. Biagini
Pagine507-518
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014

Keywords

  • Falklands
  • US-UK Relationship

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