United Kingdom considered the possibility of invading Argentine territory during the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982, according to Lawrence Freedman interviewed by Chile's newspaper La Tercera and published Sunday in Santiago.
However "the hypothesis did not prosper and it never got to be discussed with Chile", British historian and Professor of War Studies at King's College, London since 1982 Freedman is quoted by La Tercera. He has recently been appointed Vice-Principal (Research) at King's College. Dr. Freedman who wrote the official British history on the South Atlantic conflict described the idea of such an invasion of Tierra del Fuego as "seductive", but also admitted any military action on that territory "depended on Chile's cooperation". The Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego was scarcely populated "but included an oil deposit with a daily production of 24.000 barrels plus two excellent landing fields in Rio Grande and Ushuaia". "If it could be captured it would have been a slap to Argentine pride", said Freedman. However then Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher was also concerned that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet might decide to invade following Argentina's defeat to the British forces. "The possibility that Chile might decide to take advantage of the weak Argentina position following the war was a big concern of the British government, which did not want to be associated with such an action", said Freedman to La Tercera. He added that if the reverse had happened, following a "British humiliation" in the Falklands, Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri would have been tempted to follow on to Chile, "but that is something that can't be proved". In statements to El Mercurio, Freedman said that the United Kingdom will "never return the Malvinas" because of the "negative attitude" of Argentina following the conflict. Dr. Freedman also downplayed the role of Chile, in support of United Kingdom in the war, saying it "has been exaggerated" since it was "important but not decisive". "The most relevant was that Argentina had to keep forces along the border with Chile which otherwise could have been involved directly in the war", he said. "What was important was not what Chile did, but Argentine fears that Chile might join the United Kingdom, although at the end of the day Chile did provide useful intelligence and other kind of support". Freedman brushed aside the idea that the 25th anniversary commemorations might affect Chilean/Argentine relations because they "have since evolved positively". "Both are now democratic governments and in 1982 the countries had military regimes that fed into the tension. I don't think the relation will deteriorate although the anniversary will make people recall old differences", concluded Freedman. Dr Lawrence Freedman wrote the Official History of the Falklands Campaign in 2005, and was considered rather controversial since he argued that both Britain and Argentina have "very weak arguments" to claim the Islands sovereignty.
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