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LON (London): HELLO THERE WHAT ARE ALL THESE RUMOURS WE HEAR THIS IS LON
June 14, 2014 7:39 AM   Subscribe

FK (Falklands): WE HAVE LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS
LON: WHAT ABOUT INVASION RUMOURS
FK: THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS I WAS MEANING

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the ceasefire which ended the ten-week Falklands War. The war began when Argentine forces invaded the nearly undefended British archipelago, and ended with a decisive British victory following a counter-invasion (which the US Navy had considered to be a “military impossibility”). This war—in which 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers, and 3 civilians were killed—is still a fresh memory for the countries involved, as seen from growing tensions between the Argentina and England sides at the World Cup in Brazil. Only two current England players and four current Argentina players had been born when the war occurred.
posted by 256 (63 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry for leading with a Wikipedia link, but I really wanted to open the post with that telex conversation and the original source Wikipedia references for it is not available online.
posted by 256 at 7:41 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


What a pull quote. Wow.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:41 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I think the most incisive summary of the Falklands War would have to be Borges' "a fight between two bald men over a comb".
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:49 AM on June 14 [18 favorites]


Sorry for leading with a Wikipedia link, but I really wanted to open the post with that telex conversation and the original source Wikipedia references for it is not available online.

No problem; that's a great exchange there:

LON: ARE THE ARGENTINIANS IN CONTROL
FK: YES YOU CAN'T ARGUE WITH THOUSANDS OF TROOPS PLUS ENORMOUS NAVY SUPPORT WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 1600 STRONG. STAND BY.
posted by damayanti at 7:54 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


LON (London): HELLO THERE WHAT ARE ALL THESE RUMOURS WE HEAR THIS IS DOG
posted by saturday_morning at 7:57 AM on June 14 [30 favorites]


Only two current England players

Steven Gerrard was born as well.
posted by hoyland at 8:02 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


growing tensions between the Argentina and England sides at the World Cup in Brazil

Perhaps we could give then back just to stop this boring conversation. Get a hobby Argentina.

two current England players

cough Gerrard cough
posted by biffa at 8:04 AM on June 14


Steven Gerrard was born as well.

My mistake! It's his boyish good looks that fooled me.
posted by 256 at 8:05 AM on June 14


My dad was living in the UK (for work, not military) when the war started and we moved over in early June after my school year finished up, just before the war ended. It felt like the war was going on for a while afterwards because everybody was so angry at the Argentinians.

Of course this was 1982 and I spent most of my time in England thinking that it felt like World War II was last week, so this wasn't entirely surprising once I put that together.
posted by immlass at 8:12 AM on June 14


Belfast Telegraph reports that Argentina will be investigated by FIFA over the controversial Falklands banner.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:15 AM on June 14


Ahh...thatcher and galtieri's bread and circus to get everyone ginned up and nationalistic; 1000 lives, billions of dollars*, more money for the arms dealers and hangers on, more justification for War Working. Small potatoes these days, but every one of those 1000 soldiers had family......

*.......Didn't work so well for the argentinian junta. The british junta did just fine.
posted by lalochezia at 8:45 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Whoever was manning the Telex in the Falkland Islands was a comedy genius.
posted by Sara C. at 8:55 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


And after the telex link went down, the next contact between the UK and the Falklands was over amateur radio by a BBC journalist in a dusty attic. Which rather surprised the Foreign Office...
posted by Devonian at 9:40 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


FK (Falklands): WE HAVE LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS
Whatever happens to the Falklands, I hope they never stop being this sassy.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:48 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


An Ungentlemanly Act with Ian Richardson and Bob Peck which reenacts the reaction on the islands to the invasion is available on YouTube and worth a watch.
posted by jontyjago at 9:50 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I remember being in 7th grade when this went down. I remember my liberal, shaggy history teacher being sure that Thatcher (rot in Hell) was hoping it would get resolved before the task-force got to the islands, bc there was no way! I also remember my conservative father being of the opinion that Thatcher (RoH) wanted nothing so much as to strap on her Boudicca helmet, cry "Havoc!", and let slip the dogs of war. Looks like Dad was right.

Another thing that stuck in my mind, bayonets. People talk all the time that in the age of the battle rifle & machine gun, a bayonet fixed on the end of a rifle is an anachronism, used more to train aggression than for actual use killing the enemy soldier. Then came Tumbledown. More recently, fixed bayonets seem to be making a comeback as killing tool.

Because there is something quite attention-getting about a screaming soldier coming at you to spear you to death that does announce "intimidation inbound".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:01 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


RICK
RICK
RICK
MY NEW FRIENDS LET ME TRY YERBA MATE RICK
posted by dr. boludo at 10:53 AM on June 14 [14 favorites]


I don't much like Thatcher, but I won't fault her over the Falklands (especially the Belgrano). It takes a very biased person to believe that the UK was wrong in its actions.
posted by Thing at 11:21 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


This generally strikes me as a bizarre and quixotic stance for Argentina, leaving aside the attraction of extractable resources and issues of domestic politics driving policy. It's not well known but before the invasion London was sort of deliberately letting the Falklands slip into the Argentinean sphere -- almost all their trade goods came from there and the only air route to the islands was via Buenos Aires. The junta had every reason to believe they could just seize them by default.

If they were smart they would try to return to this carrot approach and seek normalized relations and in a generation, maybe, the geographic imperative would be clear.

As it is, particularly the way they're pressing their case at the Hague, Argentina is put in the strange (to me) position of having an imperialist stance, and the UK in the position of defending a native population (not necessarily for the first time). That is, most of the rhetoric over separation or geographic control these days is based on the wishes of the inhabitants. Instead, Argentina is attempting to roll back 250-ish years of control using the excuse that at the time there was a Spanish/Rio Plata outpost on the islands. But if that is going to be the standard, an arbitrary moment in time when that sort of thing was pretty usual, well, there are a lot of territorial claims that are rather suspect.
posted by dhartung at 11:23 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


When the Falklanders declined on offer of ~$1M PER PERSON to become Argentines, Michael Moore found a small, broke town in Wales about the population of the Falklands, and asked them if they would be willing to become Argentines for $1M each in a trade for the Falklands.

The Welsh seemed willing to learn to Tango. The Argentines... seem to prefer wind-swept, snowy, sheep-laden hellscapes to Tom Jones and coal.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:43 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


growing tensions between the Argentina and England sides at the World Cup in Brazil

Perhaps we could give then back just to stop this boring conversation. Get a hobby Argentina.


Yeah, because England supporters are always living in the present.
posted by ambrosen at 12:23 PM on June 14


Belfast Telegraph reports that Argentina will be investigated by FIFA over the controversial Falklands banner.
I think Spain should show up with a sign that says
ARGENTINA IS SPANISH
Then the Italians with
SPAIN IS ROMAN
Turks:
ROME IS TROJAN... SUPPOSEDLY
Turkish B Team:
TROY IS... WILUSAN? APPARENTLY? WHATEVER THAT IS
Turkish Junior Club:
WELL WILUSA MIGHT BE HITTITE? OR HITTITE-ISH, AT LEAST?
Syria:
SYRO-HITTITE IS DEFINITELY A THING, I KNOW THAT
Italians:
WAIT A MINUTE HERE, SYRIA IS ROMAN TOO
Germans:
ROME IS FRANKISH
French:
BY WHICH YOU MEAN FRENCH
Germans:
NO, BY WHICH I MEAN GERMAN
Dutch:
LOTHARINGIAN, SURELY?
Spanish:
NETHERLANDS IS HABSBURGIAN, LIKE I SAID ARGENTINA IS SPANISH
Austrians:
HABSBURGIAN, DID YOU SAY?
(...)
posted by Flunkie at 12:27 PM on June 14 [60 favorites]


The invasion was largely driven by Argentina's need to deflect attention from how the Junta was failing the country and the Dirty War. Nearly 1,000 people died then, to cover up the 20,000-30,000 that number the Disappeared.
posted by arcticseal at 12:30 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


From the Belfast Telegraph link:
"The incident reignited the country’s rivalry with England, whose players were reportedly instructed by the FA not to answer any questions concerning the banner.

But the incident could make for an interesting semi-final – or even final – if England were to manage to either win their group or progress all the way to the last match from second."
England in the semi-final - or even final... Ahahahahahaha! *wipes eyes* Ah I needed a laugh today.

But seriously, as a Northern Irish person I tend to find it hard to be sympathetic to the UK getting up in arms (literally) about invading forces.
posted by billiebee at 12:41 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


The UK has a long history of being a colonial power which is less than glorious, including our behaviour in Northern Ireland. Still doesn't excuse the invasion of the Falklands by Argentina.
posted by arcticseal at 12:51 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Mongolia's banner would be pretty long.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:55 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


Still doesn't excuse the invasion of the Falklands by Argentina.

I agree, I'm not a fan of invasions in general (see also Iraq and Afghanistan) so I'm not on Argentina's "side" or anything. It just always smacks of hypocrisy to me to see the absolute outrage about a territory being invaded when, well, you know.
posted by billiebee at 12:59 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


In my ex-pat household, Thatcher was not exactly popular, but the Falklands War was just and right.

My father still has the framed, yellowed, front page of (The Times, The Telegraph?) on the dining room wall:

“The Falkland Islands are once more under the government desired by their inhabitants. God save the Queen."

posted by madajb at 1:35 PM on June 14


I (a Briton) am quite happy with Argentina's approach: the Falklands are nearby, and they were (maybe) Argentinian 200 years ago.

I'm quite happy because this logic means we get Ireland back! Whee! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

hamburger
posted by alasdair at 1:53 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Of course, in that case, the Normans gets England back?
posted by billiebee at 2:09 PM on June 14


They never let it go.
posted by Grangousier at 2:11 PM on June 14


Naw, what happens is Tanzania gets... everywhere.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:11 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


Of course, in that case, the Normans gets England back?

No, because Odin was Welsh and Thor was Australian.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:20 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Ugh, why did I read "Normans" as "Norse"? New brain, please!
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:21 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


They never let it go.

They? I'm choosing to believe you mean "England football fans". Jeez it was 48 years ago guys!!1!
posted by billiebee at 2:23 PM on June 14


Though come to think of it I'm pretty sure the Vikings have continuously occupied Martha's Vineyard, so our whole claim there is probably invalid.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:25 PM on June 14


They never let it go.
posted by Grangousier


oh I think I get what you mean now, sorry!
posted by billiebee at 2:36 PM on June 14


The invasion was largely driven by Argentina's need to deflect attention from how the Junta was failing the country and the Dirty War.

Related post.
posted by homunculus at 2:45 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Thanks homunculus, I'd missed that post.
posted by arcticseal at 2:59 PM on June 14


The Falklands dispute is one of those things where I often see people twisting themselves in odd ways to justify Argentina. Is it that hard to simultaneously hold the concepts that Margaret Thatcher was awful and the UK has quite a nasty colonial history *and* that the Falklanders have a right to self-determination and Argentina were and are being imperialist assholes about it?
posted by tavella at 4:13 PM on June 14 [15 favorites]


Does anyone else hear telex conversations in the voice of that Will Ferrell character that can't stop shouting?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:23 PM on June 14 [8 favorites]


NOW I DO!
posted by valkane at 4:31 PM on June 14


By my calculations the UK has bombed the territory of 11 of England's competitor nations in the world cup and held territory of another three as colonies, within living memory (some actually in in the course of liberation). Argentina got off pretty lightly since it was essentially an unwanted invasion.
posted by biffa at 5:32 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Even better, with reference to the world cup, is how many of the countries playing in it have existed continuously since November 30, 1872, when England and Scotland played the first "international" football match. Italy was 11¾ old then.
posted by ambrosen at 6:24 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Back to the Falklands, they seem a pretty special case to me, being the only large habitable archipelago which was first settled by people well into the colonial era. There's no question to me that the Falkland islanders are the rightful inhabitants of the land, but I don't see that that should give the UK sovereignty over them. In my excessively dogmatic view of the world, sovereignty belongs to the Falkland islanders, and they should (be made to) have their independence. They would of course remain free to lease military bases to the UK, and have defence treaties with them.

If they're not willing to secede, I guess I personally am not especially willing to bother setting up a petition for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to secede from them, and I can't imagine it resonating with the public, so the status quo will remain and no dubious precedent will be set for the return of the Habsburg empire.

Of course, the fact that the Argentinean junta's invasion removed sovereignty talks from the agenda altogether is the real reason that they'll remain a British Overseas Territory for a long while.
posted by ambrosen at 7:05 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Ugh, why did I read "Normans" as "Norse"? New brain, please!

Hold that order! The Normans were Norse once. That's why they're called that.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:08 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


So the Viking invasion of England in 1066 did work, just from the south instead of the north.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:48 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


If they were smart they would try to return to this carrot approach and seek normalized relations and in a generation, maybe, the geographic imperative would be clear.

If they hadn't invaded, the islands would be theirs by now. The invasion means that they will never be Argentinian.
posted by atrazine at 8:16 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


The UK's ability to project power to arbitrary locations on the globe is much, much reduced since the 80s, but I'm wondering if they took the hint and enhanced the Falklands' defenses given that there is an actual, known belligerent nearby. A few modern light missile batteries wouldn't go amiss there, certainly.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:18 PM on June 14


I was briefly concerned that the telex message was a Wikipedia prank, because the book it is sourced to apparently does not exist. But whew, it's real. I would have been sad if such glorious dry snark in the face of tanks wasn't true.
posted by tavella at 10:43 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Strategic sheep purposes.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:53 PM on June 14


What tends to get forgotten is that this nasty, bloody and preventable war should not have happened, on a tactical level alone. There were extremely clear signs that Argentina was preparing to invade: here's the obituary of someone who was on the spot at the time, and whose warnings not only fell on deaf ears but who was pilloried for making them public.

As he notes, the previous UK government saw off a possible invasion in 1977 by sending submarines to the vicinity, but a political statement of will would have done just as well. The Foreign Office weren't very interested in the Falklands, whose status was anomalous like that of Diego Garcia and other UK overseas possessions that were neither formal colonies nor integrated into the United Kingdom. You could blame the Foreign Office, and certainly Carrington resigning took a lot of the heat, but Thatcher should have gone down and would have, were it not for the considerable sacrifice of the blood of others. The irony is that it was her making: until then, she was the most unpopular British Prime Minister in history. Conspiracy theorists would see intent here: I don't think that's plausible, but what's undeniable is that it shouldn't have happened. The lesson is that if you're going to claim sovereignty over a territory, leaving aside the justice of that claim, at least pay attention when a vicious military dictatorship is threatening that territory and its inhabitants.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 12:34 AM on June 15


(which the US Navy had considered to be a “military impossibility”)

I tried researching this aspect of the post. I found it quoted on the wiki page and cited to page 650 of a book on the war by a British admiral. However, I haven't found a cited source anywhere else for it on the internet. Is there any real backing for this quote or is it one man's recollection that's now bantered about as fact?

I did find evidence where many people thought it was impossible, including I think, the British Foreign Minister, based on Britain's failure to have an aircraft carrier to provide air support.
posted by Atreides at 6:52 AM on June 15


The invasion was largely driven by Argentina's need to deflect attention from how the Junta was failing the country and the Dirty War.

I'm kind of astonished by how willing Kirchner is to invoke the Falklands/Malvinas dispute, given that it was previously exploited as the last gas of a desperate, murderous, and dying regime.

It seems like a move that screams, "Here's that distraction that shitty people use when they've fucked up and run out of options!"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:42 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


I believe there's a recently discovered significant deposit of natural gas the belongs to whoever owns the Falklands. That said, there does seem to be a significant nationalist component to Argentina's renewed interest in the Falklands, so I don't know.
posted by hoyland at 10:40 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


jontyjago said: An Ungentlemanly Act with Ian Richardson and Bob Peck which reenacts the reaction on the islands to the invasion is available on YouTube and worth a watch.

I really enjoyed that movie last night, and I had not seen it before. Thanks for linking to it, jontyjago! (Also, for some reason, YouTube's search feature does not bring it up for me, so the link is worth keeping).
posted by Triplanetary at 10:49 AM on June 15


Atreides, there's plenty of evidence that the US thought very skeptically of the UK's capabilities. The National Security Archive has a collection of FOIA-obtained cables and reports. I found a CIA assessment provided to Sec. Haig that has an entire section removed, pretty clearly their view of the UK military options, and it could have come from there. And this blunt assessment within State suggests that Thatcher would pay a severe political price if she failed to "redeem her reputation and the nation's honor". Here, reporting discussions with Number 10, US diplomats report "The British tried to avoid the question of the long-term consequences of using force. Though they are concerned, and, I believe, our discussions sobered them further. Here, while Haig was embarking on his shuttle diplomacy during the period the fleet was en route, they indicate that the UK acknowledges it will be a "close-run thing", saying "in fact Thatcher herself ... pointedly showed us portraits ... not only of Nelson but also Wellington." Another CIA memo points to problems with air support including issues of aircraft range from Ascension and the length of the Port Stanley airport tarmac, with several large redactions. The most negative unredacted assessment is here, expressing clear doubts about the ability of commando forces to remain in theater without naval resupply, which it assumed would be vigorously opposed by the Argentinean navy and air force.

The US position was privately expressed as an endpoint including a multi-national force, which London very strongly rejected as it would translate into a loss of sovereignty and political support for the PM. The US was concerned not only about its South American relations but the (probably slim) possibility of Cuban/Soviet intervention (I'm really not sure that the junta would have gone that far, not to mention whether it was realistic for either of those Communist countries to really fall in on the side of a murderously anti-leftist regime -- nevertheless this was approximately the peak of the self-claimed Non-Aligned States movement). But the bottom line is that Washington truly seemed to fear that Thatcher had written cheques she could not cash. Later cables seem to express delight and surprise at how swiftly the battle was won.
posted by dhartung at 1:35 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Here's that distraction that shitty people use when they've fucked up and run out of options!

Yup, that is a fairly accurate summary of the situation. Having just spent 5 years living in Argentina, I've given up trying to apply any rationality to the Argentine government's attitude to the Falklands because there simply isn't any.

It's used entirely as a nationalistic smokescreen to divert from domestic problems. It's all done for the home audience, the Kirchner government has not once implemented any sort of policy that could realistically improve their chances of gaining control of the islands (note I do not use the words "get back" - you can't get anything back that was never yours in the first place).

Their attitude to the war is equally confusing. They have spent the last 10 years doing all they can to bring the perpetrators of the human rights crimes committed in the name of 76 - 83 regime to justice, yet on the invasion itself (which they classify as a "liberation"), they do everything they can to glorify it - the day of the invasion is now a National Holiday, commemorated on coins, build monuments to the "falling heroes" etc.

Trying to keep up with the propaganda, hypocrisy, lies and rhetoric is, quite frankly, exhausting and is certainly one of the things I will not miss about living in the otherwise, mostly fantastic country of Argentina.
posted by jontyjago at 3:07 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


An Ungentlemanly Act with Ian Richardson and Bob Peck which reenacts the reaction on the islands to the invasion is available on YouTube and worth a watch.

Despite the pleasure of seeing those two in action, this was a trivial and misleading film that is neither enlightening nor, given the subject, particularly entertaining. For those who care about such things, it perpetuates the myth that the Falklands War was merely a comical little late-imperial caper comparable to the Anglo-Icelandic Cod Wars. It was not: even leaving aside who was to blame, the fact that 1000 lives were lost ought to give pause for more thought than this film manages. That number of casualties as a proportion of combatants was extremely high, by the way, much more so than most modern wars.

The filmic memory of the FI could stand some analysis. The right hated Tumbledown; the left hated The Falklands Play.

jontyjago, are there any Argentinian film and TV histories?
posted by GeorgeBickham at 4:12 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


dhartung, thanks for the research! My grist wasn't so much about the underlying message as more about the quote, itself, but thank you for gristle to chew on!
posted by Atreides at 7:26 AM on June 16


Whoops, wrong thread.
posted by tavella at 8:38 AM on June 16


THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS I WAS MEANING would make a good Culture ship name.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:23 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


British Soldier Robert Lawrence recounts using his bayonet in the falklands. From the bbc documentary Fighting Passions: "For civilians, it's a crime. For soldiers, it's a job..."
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:49 AM on June 16


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