Thursday, June 14, 2007

Falklands 25

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the British victory in the Falklands War. I vividly remember the events of spring 1982; as a 14 year old boy at the time, naturally the war was a preoccupation for myself and all my friends. My father was at home in the last few months of his battle with cancer; every evening I would rush home from school and he would fill me in on the events of the day. Thankfully he lived to see the islands re-taken.

I remember the Ministry of Defence spokesman Ian MacDonald, whose monotone delivered good news and bad, against a plain blue background. While the war did play out on television to a certain extent, the technology was still not available for really rapid reporting; we often were a day or two behind actual events.

It was a time when political correctness was just beginning; there was almost open warfare in my school between teachers who supported the task force, and peaceniks who wanted to teach us how wrong it all was. In the end common sense prevailed and we even prayed for our forces; imagine that.

Mrs. Thatcher of course rose to the occasion and was the same source of inspiration and courage as Churchill had been before her. Her courage and determination won her the next election, but having read extensively about the conflict and especially the accounts of the political goings-on, I think there was something more to it. She was possessed of extraordinary political instinct. So while from the beginning she intended to retake the islands and to have no truck with pacifist United Nations interference, she had the political skills to maneuver the important players into the positions in which she wanted them all along. While British forces steamed south to outplay the Argentine military, Mrs. Thatcher outplayed diplomats and statesmen at their own games abroad and stymied Labour opposition at home.

This was perhaps the last really clear-cut international adventure for the British military; although Tony Blair threw in his lot with the Americans in Iraq, and no doubt the British forces perform there with the same skills and courage, he lacked the political skills needed to complete the other games of public opinion and international diplomacy.

So today is a day to reflect on a great victory for Britain and for freedom, and to salute the veterans of the South Atlantic, those who survived and those who lost their lives.