Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

30th anniversary of the Falklands

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 30th anniversary of the Falklands

    Although I know Jorge Luis Borges compared the conflict to 'two bald headed men fighting over a comb' and President Reagan talked about those 'frozen little islands down there', the Falklands conflict of 1982 could have had far bigger global ramifications if the UK had lost (in my opinion).

    It's fairly a given in British political history that the 1982 Falklands War gave then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a huge boost in popularity and helped her land a massive 144 seat majority in the 1983 General Election (on 43% of the vote). Barely 6 months earlier, she was rated as the least popular prime minister since records began. Her governing party was running third-place in the low 20%s in opinion polls (behind the two main opposition parties). A 'third force' in British politics (the SDP) was doing well in alliance with the old Liberals (hittiing 50% in some polls) and even Labour under Michael Foot wasn't doing too badly.

    The prevailing wisdom was that, pre Falklands, there was every chance of Thatcher being a one-term PM.

    The Falklands was a 'close-run thing' (according to Sandy Woodward, the then Task Force commander). If we (the Brits) had lost one of our two small carriers (Invincible or Hermes) then we would have lost. So, let's imagine that one of the few Super-Etenards with an Exocet got through the outer layers of the TF anti-air defence and sank a carrier....

    1) The TF, now without adequate air cover and facing a swift oncoming brutal South Atlantic winter, withdraws to Ascenscion Island and thence to home bases. The UK, humiliated, gives indication that it might have another crack at the Argies through attacks on the Argentine mainland with further Vulcan bomber sorties. The Soviets make dark noises that it might not be able to stand by in such an event; the US makes it VERY clear to London that it doesn't want World War 3 over 2,000 people and 500,000 sheep.

    2) The Thatcher government resigns (or is pushed off the cliff with a No Confidence vote in the Commons). There is a General Election. Despite the (centrist-moderate) Liberal/SDP Alliance having great opinion poll results, it's unable to break through at the hustings due to our First Past the Post electoral system. So, Labour under Michael Foot gets into power.

    3) Taking the actual 1983 manifesto that Labour fought under in the real General Election that year (described by one its own senior members as 'the longest suicide note in history), it's fair to assume that any election fought in 1982 would have been under similar radical-left policy commitments. So, that's the UK withdrawing from the EEC (EU) and reducing its commitments to NATO; huge cuts to defence spending; US bases out of the UK; unilateral nuclear disarmament and a mass nationalisation of much commerce and industry in the UK.

    4) So, the West loses one of its most staunch Cold Warriors (Thatcher/the UK) at a time when Soviet expansionism is still on the agenda. A fatally weakened NATO, now with neither of the two main Euro powers (UK/France) in the organisation, looks even more to the US. Could NATO survive? And, if it didn't, would we have 'won' the Cold War?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Major Bloodnok View Post
    2) The Thatcher government resigns (or is pushed off the cliff with a No Confidence vote in the Commons). There is a General Election. Despite the (centrist-moderate) Liberal/SDP Alliance having great opinion poll results, it's unable to break through at the hustings due to our First Past the Post electoral system. So, Labour under Michael Foot gets into power.
    I'm not a expert in British politics, but I dont see this as a given, nor Labor accquirng a very large majority. Finally as you say Labor was not following the best possible plan, even in the context of socialist thinking. I'm havin difficulty thinking Labor would accomplish much with only a thin majority and could retain power very long.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
      I'm not a expert in British politics, but I dont see this as a given, nor Labor accquirng a very large majority. Finally as you say Labor was not following the best possible plan, even in the context of socialist thinking. I'm havin difficulty thinking Labor would accomplish much with only a thin majority and could retain power very long.
      Thanks for your reply.

      I can see how, to an outsider, it might seem odd that Labour might do better than the third party (then the SDP/Liberal Alliance) but it's to do with the First Past the Post electoral system that is used for Wesminster elections (also used, obviously, for elections in the US and elsewhere). When the actual 1983 election happened, Labour was beaten like a drum, getting its lowest share of the vote since 1918 - 28%. For this 28%, it received 209 seats (out of 650). The SDP/Liberals got 26% of the vote and received only 23 seats.

      The Conservatives were wildly unpopular in 1980/1981, prior to the Falklands. Whether you agree with the economics or not, Mrs Thatcher's government oversaw a 20% contraction in the industrial base of the UK within a very short period. Unemployed broke the previously unthinkable 2 million mark. There were serious periods of rioting in several UK cities in 1980/81.

      The UK was a very different place then politically, with a very much alive hard left/hard right face-off. It was only 3 years since the 1979 Winter of Discontent (massive UK wide strikes - ambulances refused entry to hospitals, the dead not being buried, rubbish not collected etc). And it was only back in the mid 70s (8 years before the Falklands conflict) when serious opinion in the UK asked the question 'Is Britain ungovernable?' and there were dark remarks about military coups and Lord Mountbatten leading a national unity government.

      I believe that, if the Fleet had received a drubbing in the South Atlantic, the reaction in the UK would have been overwhelming against the government. The initial invasion and loss of the Falklands was seen as a huge failure of the UK government's foreign and defence policy - three ministers resigned outright. I think a military defeat plus the reigning climate at home of recession, social upheaval and a feeling of national decline would have led to the Conservaties being flung out.

      True, there's no way of guessing what the Labour majority might have been in such a situation - or even if any Labour government would have delivered on some of the more extremist manifesto commitments. However, there would have been great pressure on Labour to deliver on some of those defence policies, certainly on unilateralism and the position of US bases and such policies would have made NATO untenable in its then form. I think it would have been harder for Labour to have turned its back on such policies in a period of soul-searching, following a military defeat, that could easily have allowed pacifist voices to gain the ascendency in UK defence thinking.

      Comment


      • #4
        Foot was old school labour. He would have sooner bitten his own nuts of than leave British subjects in the hands of a facist dictatorship. If you read the newspaper reports at the time he was equally as agressive as the blessed Margaret
        "Sometimes its better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" T Pratchett

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DARKPLACE View Post
          Foot was old school labour. He would have sooner bitten his own nuts of than leave British subjects in the hands of a facist dictatorship. If you read the newspaper reports at the time he was equally as agressive as the blessed Margaret
          If the Buenos Aires government had been socialist back in 1982, old Foot would have been four square behind them instead.

          Paul
          ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
          All human ills he can subdue,
          Or with a bauble or medal
          Can win mans heart for you;
          And many a blessing know to stew
          To make a megloamaniac bright;
          Give honour to the dainty Corse,
          The Pixie is a little shite.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DARKPLACE View Post
            Foot was old school labour. He would have sooner bitten his own nuts of than leave British subjects in the hands of a facist dictatorship. If you read the newspaper reports at the time he was equally as agressive as the blessed Margaret
            Yes you're right, Foot was solid behind the Task Force being sent south. As you say, old school anti-fascist (ref. his work at the Tribune in the late 30s). But, if the Task Force was forced to withdraw if a carrier was lost, then the time of year wouldn't have allowed for a remounting of any operation to liberate the Falklands for the remainder of the year (bad weather was already lashing the TF by the time of the Argentine surrender). Could we have remounted an operation the following year? Would the military be able to launch it? Would there by domestic support? What about the Americans? What about the Russians?

            Comment


            • #7
              Woodward is completley bang on, it was a much tougher battle than i think personally the Brits were expecting. The loss of one British Carrier would have spelt doom for the mission.

              Ive always thought what would have happend if the Argentine Navy had not lost the General Belgrano and the task force continued onward, The Argies also had a carrier, it would have been the biggest naval battle since the second world war.

              http://www.greatmilitarybattles.com/...d_islands.html

              Comment


              • #8
                People can say what they like about bald men and combs (and arrogant intelectuals often lack values when they want to be clever), but for one larger geo political point. The Soviets were absolutley astonished(as were the Americans) that a) we pulled it off but also b) A member of NATO that wasn't America would fight and fight hard.

                Another big mention to Casper Weinberger! Legend!
                Last edited by copenhagen; 09 Apr 12, 06:24.

                Comment


                • #9
                  This war proved 1 thing. You can not steal British territory & expect not to find the Bristish military coming to put things right.
                  Also the Junta thought the USA would back them as they oppossed the USSR . What a mistake . The USA supplied Britain with the latest Sidewinder 9L AAM though they told their people on Ascenion Island to help but get caught trying to help.
                  The Argentine s didn't think things through . But of course they still believe that the Falklands are theirs .
                  To the men who were with RAF,RN,RM and Army BRAVO ZULU

                  "To all who serve , have or will serve , Thank You"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The naval war of what was considered a second rate navy engaged in a war over some remote islands invaded by a third rate nation nearly half way around the world.

                    Indeed, the Exocet anti ship missiles were a shock to all naval forces which quickly resulted in rapid development and deployment of countermeasures to defend against them. Also interesting to note that the HMS Sheffield was sunk as a result of the fires caused by unburned fuel from the dud, its warhead had failed to go off, missile that hit it. A lot of ship redesign also resulted to make them less vulnerable to fires from such battle damage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Sheffield_%28D80%29

                    Had Argentina had several more of those missiles and had launched a coordinated attacked against the British task force, they likely would have taken out at least one of the two carriers. This would have greatly crippled the mission thus allowing Argentina to retain control of the Falklands.
                    “Breaking News,”

                    “Something irrelevant in your life just happened and now we are going to blow it all out of proportion for days to keep you distracted from what's really going on.”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SRV Ron View Post
                      Indeed, the Exocet anti ship missiles were a shock to all naval forces which quickly resulted in rapid development and deployment of countermeasures to defend against them. Also interesting to note that the HMS Sheffield was sunk as a result of the fires caused by unburned fuel from the dud, its warhead had failed to go off, missile that hit it. A lot of ship redesign also resulted to make them less vulnerable to fires from such battle damage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Sheffield_%28D80%29
                      I remember several points about the missle fuel fires. Several years earlier there was a article in the US field artillery Journal about how to adjust the aim point for your conventionally warheaded Lance Missile to take advantage of residual fuel in the motor section. At half range or less the residue would apparently be significant. Point here is US Army artillerymen were aware of the residual fuel effects and prepared to take advantage of it. I wonder why it was not understood by naval leaders?

                      Second was the negative effect of acryllic and other synthetic fibre blends in the working clothing of air and ships crews. The melting point of those fabrics was far lower than wool, cotton, or linen fibres; low enough that flame flash overs or hot air pockets would melt the synthetic fabrics to the firefighters or other crew members skin, even through protective fire fighting clothing in some cases. I recall shocked pronouncements and ernest magazine articles in the military press about the severe burns associated with the synthetic fabrics. Burns where coton or linen fabrics were only scorched on one side. What was off about this was the unsuitablity of some types of synthetic fabrics in fire fighting was well known then. Firefighters in the US made a point of wearing cotton or similar clothing made from fiber with a relatively high heat resistance. My girl friend was a EMT with the Kansas City Fire Dept at that time & understood this - no nylons or polyester fabric bra when on duty. If a 26 year old fire fighter in a poorly equipped urban fire dept knows polyester is a bad thing when fire fighting one wonders why veteran admirals approving military uniforms lost sight of it?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It would have been easier to wait six months for the British government to be well into scrapping half the fleet that was there. The Buenos Aries government could have simply leveraged the credit to wait for that to happen, then invade.....

                        Comment

                        Latest Topics

                        Collapse

                        Working...
                        X