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The Falklands Conflict – Then and Now

Thursday, May 26th 2022 - 10:55 UTC
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The book is a reminder of the “Forgotten Falklands” as “Help for Heroes” called them in their poll indicating that most people in the UK care little about the conflict The book is a reminder of the “Forgotten Falklands” as “Help for Heroes” called them in their poll indicating that most people in the UK care little about the conflict

By Harold Briley for MercoPress (London) – The 40th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict is being commemorated all year with events in the Falkland Islands, the United Kingdom, and Argentina as MercoPress has reported.

The conflict and the extraordinary consequences in all three countries have come under fresh focus as explained in a 40th anniversary book entitled “Fight for Falklands Freedom” * which I have written as the BBC’s former Latin America Correspondent.

I first broke news of the invasion in a world-wide broadcast from my base in Buenos Aires and reported it throughout. I have continued to monitor developments ever since.

My interest in the sovereignty dispute began long before the invasion with a fact-finding reconnaissance to the Islands the previous year, getting to know the Islanders and the places that later became headline names. I also reported for years the Argentine dictatorships campaign of repression against its own population, kidnapping, torturing and killing 30,000 of its own mostly innocent people without remorse and tossing their bodies into the South Atlantic from military helicopters. It was a dangerous time in Argentina. At least 120 journalists were among the disappeared as the victims were called. I received many threats myself as did other correspondents.

Journalists are said to write the first rough drafts of history. My rough drafts are now becoming official history.

The Imperial War Museum in London has recorded my experiences for its permeant archives along with my book. It is vital for future generations to know from such impeccable sources the facts gathered in on-the-spot, eye-witness reports. I told the Malvinas Museum in Buenos Aires that its archives have the responsibility to tell the truth impartially and not promote propaganda.

The 1982 invasion came as a complete surprise as did Britain’s reaction to send a naval-led Task Force to liberate the Islands. It was regarded by military and political experts as mission impossible. It was too dangerous to send more than100 warships with merchant support vessels and thousands of men 8,000 miles to the cold gale-lashed water of the South Atlantic within range of ground-based attack aircraft on the Argentine mainland only 300 miles away. But mission impossible was achieved.

The decisive factor was the fighting qualities of the British armed forces – highly-trained, fit and courageous, with outstanding leaders they trusted. By contrast Argentine officers bullied and abused their front-line soldiers, many of them conscripts with no combat experience whose morale was undermined.

My book is a comprehensive account of the fighting, the political and diplomatic ramifications, the historical background and how the Falkland Islands have developed since as a self-governing nation enjoying unprecedent prosperity, based mainly on a flourishing fisheries industry with the prospect of future riches from discoveries of offshore oil.

The book is a timely reminder of the “Forgotten Falklands” as the armed forces charity “Help for Heroes” called them in their recent poll indicating that most people in the United Kingdom know or care little about them or the conflict. How different is the attitude in Argentina, where the whole population, from earliest schooldays, remains obsessed. Its campaign to possess the Islands has intensified in this anniversary year. It repeatedly calls for renewal of negotiations with the United Kingdom to transfer sovereignty. They would be meaningless as Argentina has already decided its only acceptable outcome by amending its constitution declaring the Falklands and all other British territories in the South Atlantic to be part of Argentina. The war reversed UK policy.

From readiness to transfer sovereignty the UK now totally supports the Islanders with guarantees of strong military defence and encouragement of economic development.

As well as liberating the Falkland Islands, the war brought about the downfall of the dictatorship, averted its planned invasion of Chile and restored democracy to Argentina.

Forty years on, the centuries-old sovereignty dispute remains unsolved and likely to continue far into the future.

 

Falklands Pr by MercoPress News on Scribd

By Harold Briley.

* “Fight for Falklands Freedom”.

Published by the History Press (Cheltenham, UK). ISBN 9780750999533 in Paperback £12.99.
Ebook available too.

The author is donating all his profits, from every book sold, to research into post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -, from which many Falklands veterans on both sides suffer as well as from life-long physical wounds.

Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

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