Will there be another Falklands conflict?

January 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

A series of military options are being actively considered as the war of words over the islands intensifies.

It is understood that additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region ahead of the March referendum on the Falkland Islands’ future.

The people of the have the right of self-determination. There may only be 3,000 or so of them but that is more than Tokelau and Niue.

In the last referendum in 1986, 96.5% voted for British sovereignty, 1.7% for independence and 0.3% for Argentine sovereignty.

Intelligence chiefs have warned David Cameron that a resounding “yes” vote could lead to an aggressive “stunt” by the Argentine government, such as the planting of the country’s flag on the island by a small raiding party.

Other possibilities include a “cod war” style harassment campaign by the Argentine navy of the Falklands’ fishing fleet and the disruption of British oil and gas exploration.

Such a move, officers have warned, could quite quickly escalate into aggressive action if the Royal Navy was ordered to intervene.

Or Argentina could just respect the rights of the people whose families have lived there for 170 years or so.

Despite the increasing hostile rhetoric from Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, the British government believes that Buenos Aries currently lacks both the political will and military capability to recapture the islands.

But the Prime Minister has told his cabinet and senior defence chiefs that Britain should not be complacent and must be fully prepared for every eventuality.

Just last week the Mr Cameron insisted that Britain would not shirk from defending the islands if Argentina attempted another invasion.

So could Argentina try to invade again?

Argentina is facing serious economic problems and President Kirchner’s popularity ratings have never been lower. But one of the few unifying forces within Argentine politics is the country’s claim over “Las Malvinas” – the Spanish name for the islands.

The problem with an invasion is it makes you popular initially, but less so after you get defeated.

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57 Responses to “Will there be another Falklands conflict?”

  1. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    Or Argentina could just respect the rights of the people whose families have lived there for 170 years or so.

    Interesting comment to make in the context of a resounding “yes” vote for the Islands to be returned to Argentina.

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  2. Dotcom (1,386 comments) says:

    Sure will be another Falklands. It’s happening right now on the Stead Thread (Bain).

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  3. Rodders (1,790 comments) says:

    If Kirchner makes the same mistake as Galtieri, then she will suffer the same fate as Galtieri.

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  4. Manolo (13,317 comments) says:

    Argentina’s Kirchner is living on borrowed time. The socialist widow of Nestor Kirchner, himself an obscure politician who became president by chance more than anything, is a spendthrift who has mismanaged the economy.

    She goes on expensive trips to Paris and New York in the best style of an African satrap. Last year she was given a hard-time by Argentinian expats during a press conference at Harvard.

    Kirchner is an abject failure.

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  5. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Most likely.

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  6. Inky_the_Red (734 comments) says:

    Do you think that the UK will extend the same democratic choice to the people who used to live on Diego Garcia?

    [DPF: Sadly, no. But they should. Their depopulation policy was wrong IMO]

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  7. tvb (4,193 comments) says:

    Britain also lacks the same military capacity they had in 1982. I assume the Argues know this hence the aggressive moves by the Argies. In the meantime they will force Britain to divert scarce assets away from other more important areas. I assume the Americans will fill the gaps.

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  8. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “A major problem with the referendum is that the wrong question is being asked. Furthermore it is being asked of the wrong people. The Falkland Islanders should not be asked if they wish to be considered British or Argentinian. Instead UK taxpayers should be asked if they want to continue funding every family on the Falkland Islands to the tune of almost £92,000 every year.”

    http://newsjunkiepost.com/2013/01/05/las-malvinas-or-the-falkland-islands-the-ugly-face-of-british-imperialism-and-its-startling-cost/

    I’m suprised that DPF supports such financial assistance. Christ, he complains when a beneficiary gets paid a few hundred dollars a week. But a couple of hundred thousand dollars is apparently OK if they live on the Malvinas.

    [DPF: Totally separate questions. I have no view on the cost of the islands to the UK except to note rural and remote communities always cost a country a lot of money. Niue and Tokelau cost us a lot.

    The Falklands could vote to remain with the UK, and the UK could decide to subsidise the less.

    Of course you are trying to divert from the main issue. What is your view on what should happen to the Falklands if the locals vote to remain British?]

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  9. Elaycee (4,287 comments) says:

    Kea:

    Interesting comment to make in the context of a resounding “yes” vote for the Islands to be returned to Argentina.

    Best check your meds – maybe someone has swapped your Prozac for Tic Tacs. 8O

    The resounding Yes was 96.5% in favour of the islands remaining under British rule and only 0.3% for Argentine sovereignty.

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  10. Elaycee (4,287 comments) says:

    Bugger edit: Not meant to be bold. :(

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  11. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Only 29% of Falkland Islanders see themselves as British. And the cost of maintaining a military presence on the island keeps rising. Some £75 million was spent in 2010/11. I didn’t realise that British taxpayers were so keen to throw away their money.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/jan/03/falkland-islands-data-charts

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  12. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    I seem to recall that the UK was edging towards getting out of the Falklands before the 1982 war, mainly due to the cost of maintaining the dependency. After the war this became politically impossible, but now that it seems the islands will provide significant mineral wealth the ‘self determination’ for the ‘islanders’ becomes a useful card. The enormous subsidies become justified if they are part of the case for grabbing the oil, etc.

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  13. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    Had to get the calculator out again.
    The British taxpayer forked out 75 million pounds for a population of 2932 people (2012 cenus).
    That’s a cost to the British taxpayer of 25,580 pounds PER PERSON.

    If I was a British taxpayer I would be wanting the government to hand back the islands!!

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  14. Michael (894 comments) says:

    Right, and if someone invaded the Chatham Islands we’d just go it’s too costly to defend and hand it over?

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  15. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    Michael, there’s a difference between defending an invasion and having to keep a CONTINUAL military presence. The cost to the British taxpayer is ongoing.

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  16. bc (1,332 comments) says:

    Still if it cost (using the British Falklands amount as a ballpark figure) $150,000,000 per year to keep the Chatham Islands would you be happy with that as a taxpayer? I know I wouldn’t!

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  17. emmess (1,367 comments) says:

    It only costs that much because of the threats from the Argies.
    Once they pull their heads in, there would not be such a cost.
    That will probably happen when they develop a proper two (or more) party system, instead of under Peronist party domination.

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  18. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,810 comments) says:

    As an actual British Taxpayer I’m fine with the British Government spending even more money to bomb downtown Buenos Aires.

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  19. Muzza M (290 comments) says:

    If it does happen, I hope the Pommies are a hell of a lot better prepared this time than they were last time.

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  20. Warren Murray (271 comments) says:

    There was a v good programme on Radio Nz at end of last year, where a rather antagonistic interviewer was questioning a woman that i understood was the leader of the Falklands Islands Assembly. Anyone who can find it would be doing others a service by putting the link here. Id like to listen to it again.

    The interviewer seemed very pro argentine and i was very impressed by the knowledge and patience of the interviewee.

    In light of others comments about the cost of maintaining forces in the islands, most of these costs would remain, the real cost is what is additional to the UK by having their forces operating in the islands instead of say Afganistan or being stationed elsewhere.

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  21. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    Hardtalk interviews Jan Cheek.

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  22. nasska (10,611 comments) says:

    Warren Murray

    Agree…..once a nation commits itself to maintaining a standing army it is ridiculous to divide the cost of a particular exercise on the basis of ‘X’ number of equipped personal employed as a proportion of total defence expenditure. If any units serving in the Falklands were not there where would they be & what would they be doing?

    The true cost is actual costs incurred by the forces stationed in the Falklands less the costs of the same forces square bashing & exercising back in the UK.

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  23. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    I just hope ESPN will be there, the coverage of the last Falklands upset was piss poor.

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  24. profile (13 comments) says:

    and the value of the oil and gas + fishery is worth how much to the british taxpayer?

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  25. Reid (15,912 comments) says:

    Only 29% of Falkland Islanders see themselves as British. And the cost of maintaining a military presence on the island keeps rising. Some £75 million was spent in 2010/11. I didn’t realise that British taxpayers were so keen to throw away their money.

    ross the oil reserves are huge. This is why Thatcher went down there and why they’ll go down there again.

    Plus it’s a morale booster for the people in these straightened times and coincidentally excellent news for the incumbent govt on the day final victory is announced.

    Also those poor British arms companies aren’t doing so well on the export front these days so they need a shot in the arm from the UK taxpayers and this is guaranteed to generate heaps of campaign donations jobs. At least until the day victory is declared and for a few weeks after.

    I’m not too sure why Argentina’s leadership bothered to raise this question. I haven’t looked into the history of the story but does anyone know the timeline of who said what when? So I assume Argentina has been speaking out of turn and I wonder why? I mean the strategic calculation hasn’t changed. There is no scenario whereby the UK won’t kick Argentina’s arse. None. There wasn’t back in the 80′s and that hasn’t changed, at all. So why?

    Perhaps he thinks he’s Juan Peron and it’s time to take Argentina to another level entirely.

    I wonder if we can use our commonwealth relationship with the UK to see if we can’t use this upcoming conflict as a cover to stop Argentina becoming our agricultural competitor. Perhaps if we offer to lend them our vast fleet of light-skinned troop carriers which Hulun so thoughtfully expended a huge chunk of the foreseeable hardware budget on, Tim Groser could arrange some sort of deal on the side, facilitated by Lockwood our new man in London.

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  26. Reid (15,912 comments) says:

    There was a v good programme on Radio Nz at end of last year, where a rather antagonistic interviewer was questioning a woman that i understood was the leader of the Falklands Islands Assembly. Anyone who can find it would be doing others a service by putting the link here. Id like to listen to it again.

    Is this it?

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  27. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    My daughter’s boyfriend has just returned from 5 months in Argentina. His view is that there is going to be a meltdown in that country within 18 months. Daily protests in BA with police either watching, participating!, or aggressively intervening. The economy is tanking and the view of Argentine ruling class of all ages is that the mineral wealth around the Falklands is rightfully theirs.

    There was a silver lining for NZ as a result of the last conflict. Split Enz’s “6 months in a leak boat” was released just as the war kicked off. It was banned by the BBC and so instantly went to No 1 in the UK charts, if I recall correctly :)

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  28. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Only 29% of Falkland Islanders see themselves as British

    Typical leftie abuse of statistics. How many see themselves as Argentinian? It’s unlikely to be more than 0.3%. The majority probably regard themselves as Falkland Islanders. Good for them.

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  29. Bob (478 comments) says:

    Also Britain will no doubt be backed again by America and Europe leaving Argentina with no worthwhile friends.

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  30. oob (194 comments) says:

    Also Britain will no doubt be backed again by America and Europe leaving Argentina with no worthwhile friends.

    It’s a little bit more complicated than that Bob. The Americans stuck fast to the Monroe Doctrine last time around and will be in a similarly delicate position this time around.

    One of the consequences of it was Augusto Pinochet. He wasn’t extradited largely because of Thatcher’s support. She was returning favours.

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  31. Gulag1917 (638 comments) says:

    There will not be another Falklands conflict in the next couple years or so. Britain is quite capable of decisively beating any invader. Go Britain.

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  32. slijmbal (1,210 comments) says:

    the US and French were not particularly supportive of the UK the last time around – the US wanted the UK to not fight and use the UN and the French were busy trying to sell exocets to Argentina on the sly.

    On the +ve side the reason for the protection of the natives of the Falklands for the last 20 years has not been driven by oil – but now indications that there is a bucket load of oil and gas there might mean the UK comes out ahead of the cost equation.

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  33. Reid (15,912 comments) says:

    This is why they’ve done it.

    http://news.uk.msn.com/exclusives/britain-has-alien-war-weapons-says-former-government-adviser

    The Argentian swinehounds don’t have a chance.

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  34. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    The Argentines had their chance in 1982 and blew it, although it could have turned out quite differently. An invasion a matter of months later would have seen the Brits with not enough carriers to send a task force. As it was, the Argentines came respectably close to getting through the air defences and a crippling strike on a carrier was certainly within the realms of possibility. On the ground, the Argentines sent conscript troops to occupy the islands, leaving most of their best troops on the mainland to guard against an attack from Chile.
    The military balance, more even then, is now overwhelmingly tilted in Britain’s favour.

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  35. elscorcho (151 comments) says:

    Wow. People saying that money matters when there are issues of sovereignty.

    I would pay ANY amount, ANY time to protect one square inch of New Zealand from a foreign invasion.

    There are too many shopkeepers in this thread, who understood nothing of glory, honour, or nationalism, and only the dollars and cents floating into their till.

    The people whining about spending money on the Falklands are the same sort of people who, had they been French in 1940, would have quite willingly collaborated with the Germans for the next 5 years – as long as there was a franc or two to be made.

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  36. Warren Murray (271 comments) says:

    The resources in the area would be cheaper to extract if Argentina cooperated. Instead it has lobbied its neighbours to obstruct any extraction and exploitation. I think the economic considerations such as fishing and mineral reserves, along with the cost of british military presence on the islands is important but secondary to the wishes of the islanders.

    Strangely enough,even for Argentina, the economic considerations must be secondary, otherwise it would be happy to be the obvious main conduit for access to these reserves around the Falklands and thereby share the benefits.

    Thanks to others who found the interview.

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  37. gimmeabreak (3 comments) says:

    1). Kea, get your facts straight.

    2). In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands. The invasion was unprovoked. No country with any self respect allows its people to be treated in that way.

    3). 253 British soldiers died liberating the islands.

    4). The cost of keeping the islands British is trivial compared to amount of money the British government squanders elsewhere.

    5). The Falkland have been British for generations and wish to remain so. The Argentinians will just have to grow up and accept it.

    6). I’m all for the bottom line and the profit motive, but you people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Would you sell your grandmother for sausage meat because looking after her was inconvenient?

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  38. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    Will either party be exploiting the mineral wealth if they remain in conflict? I say either party as Falkland Islanders are not declaring independence from the UK despite the mineral and fisheries wealth.

    Both parties would benefit from an arrangement to share sovereignty, the wealth could be exploited and military cost and or confrontation avoided.

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  39. Reid (15,912 comments) says:

    Wow. People saying that money matters when there are issues of sovereignty. I would pay ANY amount, ANY time to protect one square inch of New Zealand from a foreign invasion.

    Yeah but treacly patriotic bullshit is not and never has been a factor in real geopolitical calculations especially not in one like this.

    For example a proposition like “It seems to me Argentina is capitalising on the timing of the various rebuffs Cameron and co have been delivering to the EU mandarins on various fronts and it may be trying to get some of the EU on its side,” for example, is a real potential factor for inclusion in this geopolitical calculation. But the proposition that Argentina’s leadership maybe doing what they’re doing because they want to reflect “grassroots opinion” or that the UK’s leadership would do that either, is not a real factor.

    People who advise govts on issues like this are the hardest-nosed most calculating people you can find anywhere. That’s why they’re where they are. Such people are in all govts including ours, and you can guarantee both the Argies and the Brits have got them there too.

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  40. iMP (2,231 comments) says:

    The French have just gone into Mali, the British will TOTALLY go to the Falklands in strength. It’s about national pride and everyone will back Cameron. They can’t lose. Technology is much more sophisticated (and remote) now than last time. Couple of tomahawk drones should do it on Argi ships while the Brits sit at home watching Coro St.

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  41. V (668 comments) says:

    Hell just bomb them with some Coro St, that’s punishment enough.

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  42. Jack5 (4,568 comments) says:

    Re Reid at 3.38:

    An interesting clip, thank you. BBC promoting the Argentine case: no surprise there.

    Since Jimmy Savile’s evil was exposed, the BBC has zero credibility. The Savile scandal suggests see no evil, stop no evil is the BBC way.

    The BBC in the clip talks of the expense of defending the Falklands. How much to keep the BBC afloat? How long will British taxpayers fork up to keep the BBC pumping out its soft-Left propaganda on the electronic waves?

    Anyone under age of 40 will barely remember the Falklands War, said the BBC interviewer, and quoted the Guardian (of course). Then he said more young people than older British folk favoured mediation. The BBC promoting the interests and views of the young?

    By what right should you claim the right to maintain sovereignty of islands, the BBC interrogator asked the lady from the Falklands . He could ask the same of most of us in NZ, or of English and French-speaking Canadians, or of Australians, or of the Protestants in Northern Ireland. Perhaps even of those in Britain whose native tongue has evolved from Anglo-Saxon. And of the Argentinians who virtually exterminated the indigenous people, in most cruel ways.

    Hillary Clinton wants Britain to talk to Argentina, the BBC man said. Talk settles all, eh? As with Belfast after the Clinton led talks. And Libya, and Tunisia, and soon Syria.

    The Falklands lady in the clip was strong and firm.

    The BBC’s “Hard Talk”, advertises itself as asking hard questions, but it stands out for the brashness, aggression, and rudeness of most of its interviewers, rather than for their research and wit. It’s focus on probing for weaknesses in only one side of an issue is flawed. Especially since that side will be the one that least fits the BBC’s liberal-left world view.

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  43. bringbackdemocracy (391 comments) says:

    A referendum where the result is respected?

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  44. elscorcho (151 comments) says:

    Someone said:
    “Yeah but treacly patriotic bullshit is not and never has been a factor in real geopolitical calculations especially not in one like this.”

    Yes. There were plenty of cold calculators in the 1930s who said appeasement was smart. There were even some who said Britain shouldn’t respond to the invasion of Poland. Some said once France had fallen, that a negotiated settlement was smart.

    Thank God they didn’t get their way. Cold hard realpolitik is no match for honour. Calculation doesn’t make LAH stand their ground in the winter of 41/42 until down to 20% ration strength.

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  45. James Stephenson (2,006 comments) says:

    Michael, there’s a difference between defending an invasion and having to keep a CONTINUAL military presence. The cost to the British taxpayer is ongoing.

    There’s probably not a whole lot of difference between the cost of running a Type 45 off the Falklands, and maintaining it in a UK port. What’s different, the cost of the fuel and the shipping cost of food to Port Stanley? The experience gain for the crew versus playing training games is probably worth it.

    Dauntless has the capability to deal to the combined Air Forces of the whole of South America…

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  46. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    ‘Cold hard realpolitik is no match for honour. Calculation doesn’t make LAH stand their ground in the winter of 41/42 until down to 20% ration strength’
    Plrase tell me you are not praising the ‘honour’ of the SS.

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  47. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    A war is always good for business………………………..

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  48. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    1) ‘The Falkland Islands are not worth defending.
    Define ‘worth’.
    Also: if armed and warlike Argentinian Marines were found stomping up the main street of any English coastal town would those who oppose war still advocate peace and love and mediation?
    If armed and warlike marines (or paratroopers) of any country came stomping up the main street of any New Zealand city or town you’d expect the Government to do something about it – wouldn’t you?

    2) The Argentinians are neither militarily nor economically up to it. The Argentinian Air Force is still largely that of 1982 – Mirages and their Israeli offshoots (1950s design); Skyhawks (1950s design, reworked and rejuvenated between 1997-2001 and reborn as AR4 FightingHawks). That’s just the combat force.

    3) The Argentinian Navy is essentially the same as in 1982. The carrier May 25 (ex-British WW2) has gone. The destroyers (British-built Type 42, of the kind that the Argentinian pilots did the most damage to) are still there, so are the German-built Mekos, and the French (would-have-been South African) corvettes. There have been no new up-to-date combat ships.

    4) The Argentinian Army is not up to it, either. The abolition of conscription has left it under-strength. Some battalions are little more than reinforced rifle or cavalry companies.

    5) And really, I doubt if the Argentinian public are up to it, despite their chest-beating and brave declarations. In 1982 Galtieri, then the president, allowed the invasion date to be brought forward simply to appease the mobs outside the gates of the Casa Rosada protesting against the failing economy and their crashed living standards. After the invasion of April 2 Galtieri and co were heroes until the British did the unthinkable and kicked their forces out of the Falklands.

    6) The British will have their problems: no aircraft-carriers in service, and a smaller Royal Navy than in 1982. The Royal Air Force has also shrunk. There are no more Vulcans.

    7) On the other hand, the British Army and Royal Marines have had almost continuous battle experience since 1982, which the Argentinian forces – especially the army – has not. That lack of battle experience was exposed by the British in 1982.

    8) The real heroes on the Argentinian side in 1982 were their jet pilots, especially the men who flew their Air Force and Navy Skyhawks. Those guys were amazingly able and brave who did more than expected in their elderly aircraft. If their ordinary ‘iron bombs’ had been fused better the Royal Navy would have suffered a humiliating defeat worse than Coronel (1914, off Chile, Vice-Admiral Reichsgraf von Spee).
    Whereas Coronel was a tactical defeat in that the British got their revenge at the Falklands weeks later and also control of the South Atlantic, a defeat in 1982 would have been catastrophic for the British and the Falklanders because the Argentinians would have cemented their occupation of the islands and the Falklanders talking in Spanish.

    9) Someone said here that HMS Dauntless, one of the new class of RN destroyers (the Darings), had the capability to deal with the combined forces of the whole of South America. To that I would only say: we’ll only know how she fares in the moment of combat. In 1982 the British forces encountered a lot of equipment failures: Tigercat missiles that wouldn’t launch because of the conditions; software failures affecting shipborne Sea Dart and the then latest Seawolf anti-aircraft and -missile missiles; weaknesses in ship construction exposed (frigates and destroyers). A Royal Navy chief petty officer on exchange to the RNZN told me: ‘The best weapons we had on the ships in the end were the old ‘Gimpy’ [general purpose machine-gun] and the 50.cal HMG.’
    You can still see footage of the engagements, of Mirages and Skyhawks skimming over the water, some between mast and funnel of ships.

    10) If the Argentines did invade again, I doubt they would do the very thing that ignited British public opinion against them in 1982 – the photographing and filming of them forcing the Royal Marines defending the Governor’s residence to lie down on the ground. If they hadn’t done that Margaret Thatcher might have found it harder getting the public behind her.

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  49. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    [DPF: Totally separate questions. I have no view on the cost of the islands to the UK except to note rural and remote communities always cost a country a lot of money. Niue and Tokelau cost us a lot.]

    Hmmm NZ spent $19 million on Niue in the last year. So, a mere fraction of what the UK spends on the Falklands. If the Falklands wants a military presence, why don’t the islanders pay for it? Alternatively, they could move to the mainland if the require such a military presence.

    [DPF: i noticed you avoided the question about what you think should happen if they vote to remain British.

    I don't think the Falklands wants a military presence. They just want not to be invaded. But I like your proposal that victims of agression should pay for their protection. I presume you think women should pay for rape crisis teams and thew Jews should reimburse the Allies for the cost of WWII?]

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  50. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    Tripe
    Would you see the gap until the new Brit carriers are commissioned as providing any opportunity for the Argentines? The UK has some small air presence based on the islands, and I guess they could be reinforced fairly quickly.

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  51. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Mike: hi, the gap might. And I say ‘might’ because anything could happen.

    A commonly held belief back in the 80s was that if Galtieri and co had waited until later in 1982 – say after the winter – they would have got away with it because HMS Hermes (WW2 light carrier) would have been decommissioned and HMS Invincible would have been sold off to become HMAS Something Else.

    As it turned out, planning was hurried along. The navy, under its chief Admiral Jorge Anaya, who made taking the Falklands a condition of naval support of Galtieri and friends, had begun planning the invasion in December 1981. But Galtieri and co (Anaya and Brigadier-General Basilio Lami Dozo) had lost popularity with the people, who were seriously unhappy – inflation, unemployment, collapsing of services. So something needed to be done to distract them. It was a tactic Juan Peron had perfected when he was President.

    So, at the moment, the only RN ship capable of carrying aircraft is HMS Illustrious, until the end of next year. But then the problem is that the Fleet Air Arm has retired its Sea Harrier jump-jets. Many of the pilots who flew them -including Lieutenant-Commander Kris Ward, son of Commander ‘Sharky’ Ward who was given a high old time by Major Alfredo Tomba flying a twin-engine Pucara – were discharged. It now takes years for an armed force to get back capability it has lost. As the RNZAF found after Helen Clark scrapped the Skyhawks, skills and abilities get lost – not just pilots, but armourers, engineers, technicians….

    The Royal Navy will be carrier-less until HMS Queen Elizabeth is comissioned in 2016. Imagine at least a year of working up before she’s fully combat-ready. HMS Prince of Wales will arrive in 2018. At 60,000+ tons these ships are easily the biggest built for the Royal Navy. They look as if they will cost a lot to run.

    They will carry the new, allegedly super-duper American Lightning II jet combat aircraft. An interesting thing about that, if I’ve read the material correctly, is that the Americans have a say in how the aircraft can be used. If America decides, as some of their people did in 1982, to line up behind Argentina, then that might be an advantage to Argentina.

    To succeed, the Argentinians have to follow the dictum commonly ascribed to the American General John J Pershing: ‘He wins who gets there firstest, fastest, with the mostest.’ For that to happen, I suggest, the Argentinians must have overwhelming firepower in the air, at sea, and then on land. If they succeed, they’ll never be dislodged.

    The RAF doesn’t have that capability any more. A single-seat Typhoon drive to Stanley and back is a long haul. The other thing about the Vulcan flights – they didn’t do much damage. In five raids, averaging 21 1000Ib bombs each, only one bomb hit Stanley airport’s runway. But the Vulcan’s real effect was to Argentina’s psyche. That the British could send these bombers from so far, and so was downtown Buenos Aires now in danger?

    On the islands the Argentines never knew if they were coming, and their AA fire couldn’t reach them. Every time Argentinian anti-aircraft radar lit up on a Vulcan the Argentinians shut them off for fear of an anti-radar missile riding down the beam.

    So, the short answer, Mike: I don’t know.

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  52. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    Thanks for those insights. I could imagine some sabre-rattling from Argentine, maybe even an incident at some stage, but a repeat of 1982 seem very unlikely. Then again, it seemed unimaginable even at the time.

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  53. Dazzaman (1,123 comments) says:

    Britain also lacks the same military capacity they had in 1982. I assume the Argues know this hence the aggressive moves by the Argies.

    The window of opportunity is now for the Argies then….when the QE class (fixed wing aircraft) carriers enter service it’ll be a whole lot harder for them to attempt. In the meantime the Brits would have to cobble together something even lesser than the 82 task force….jerry building ski jump ramps on HMS Ocean in order to fly off a few fixed wingers?

    Diplomacy seems like a better option along with posting a battalion or two (probably not enough beds in the islands, a logistical nightmare)….just in case, & highly unlikely.

    It all looks like sabre rattling for local (Argentinian) consumption. Not much more than piss & wind.

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  54. Gulag1917 (638 comments) says:

    With or without aircraft carriers available for the British navy Argentina does not stand a chance. Britain being in NATO means that if any British territory is attacked NATO is obligated to assist Britain. Argentina will know it has no chance. 2013 is a lot different to 1982.

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  55. mikenmild (10,612 comments) says:

    The NATO argument didn’t seem to help the UK much in 1982.

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  56. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Gulag: Nato was conspicuously divided over its support of Britain or Argentina in 1982.

    France tried to play a double game: it had and was supplying Exocet anti-ship missiles to the Argentinian Navy. It had supplied 14 Super Etendard carrier-launched anti-ship jets, which arrived from Landivisiaux at the end of 1981, to launch them. French technicians and advisers were still helping the Argentinian Navy throughout the war. An unexploded Exocet destroyed HMS Sheffield. Another Exocet sank the container ship Atlantic Conveyor

    France was also competing with Britain for arms deals. France had a lot at stake in South America. Mirages (and their Israeli offshoots) equipped the air forces of Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. You’d find French weapons (tanks, armoured cars, artillery, mortars, small-arms, and so) in just about every Latin American Army. And that was because of the colonial-style attitude of the United States, which since WW2 had had a doctrine of keeping modern, significant weapons out of Latin America. That’s why the French were able to break what in effect was an embargo by selling a squadron of Mirage IIIs to Peru in 1967 while the US would let Argentina have only subsonic Skyhawks. Yet it was the Skyhawks that nearly won it for Argentina.

    The US: ah, yes, divided in its support. Jeane Kirkpatrick and Alexander Haig wanted to shaft Britain so they could extend US influence in Latin America. (A good read on this is Razor’s Edge, by Hugh Bichino.) Only Caspar Weinberger (by then, apparently, boffing a professor at the University of Cambridge) was unstinting in his support of Britain.

    Italia: well, you found Italian-built frigates (and missile-firing corvettes) in the Venezuelan, Colombian, Ecuadorean, and Peruvian navies.Italian arms salesmen were busy in South America then. Italy, like the rest of Nato, (and also Catholic) was very interested in not upsetting its relationship with Latin America. What is not generally known is that Argentina is the most Italian-settled country in Latin America. Galtieri was of Italian descent, as were so many of the Argentinian leadership.

    Spain: the old colonial Power (though tossed out violently during the 1800s), which had given sanctuary to the Perons, and later gave homes to some of the killers and torturers from the Naval Engineering School. Spain was developing influence as Friend of Latin America in European and world councils.

    Even Britain was divided: Argentina’s railways were largely British owned, as were the meat-processing plants.

    So, not an extensive analysis (not even ‘analysis’), but it gives you something to go on.

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  57. Sequel (13 comments) says:

    To provide a few facts.

    There are currently 4 Eurofighter Typhoons stationed at mt Pleasant Airfield (NOT an RAF base), with Hardenned Aircraft Shelters and spaces on the apron for up to 16 fighter aircraft. The runway is long enough and strong enough to take transport aircraft of any size and shape. There are around 1,500 UK service personnel stationned on the Falklands, as well as the ice patrol ship and an RN guardship (currently a type 45 destroyer, I believe). While many of the 1,500 personnel are RAF mechinics and technicians etc, all have been trained to play their part in repelling an invasion. There are hundreds of fully trained infantry soldiers, as well as air defence missile batteries and, crucially, a ruddy big radar. The british armed forces have had 30 years to plan where the Argentines would land and how they would get to MPA, and I suspect that they would find it very difficult.

    In addition to the 1,500 UK service personel, there are also around 150 members of the Falkland Islands Defence Force, fully trained and highly motivated, knowing that they are defending their homes.

    Most importantly, at the first sign of ANY Argentine activity, the numbers of Typhoons would be increased dramatically, a standing CAP imposed over the islands, and reinforcements flown in. Within 48 the islands would be impregnable and Argentina would be looking at either a humilating backdown or thousands of dead soldiers. Modern war is not pretty and the Sth Atlantic is very unforgiving. One hopes that the Argentine government knows this.

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