Sunday, 14 June 2009

It's Liberation Day!

To those British folks down in the South Atlantic, today marks 27 years since the end of the Falklands War when the British territories of the South Sandwich islands, South Georgia islands and Falkland Islands were freed from the clutches of an invasive force sent to occupy them by a military dictatorship.

As someone born after these events, and who is a bit of a liberal/leftie, I have noticed quite a lot of criticism of the Thatcher Government for their part in the events. And I'm not talking about criticism of the fact they paid little heed to warnings about an Argentinian invasion or their general handling of the war. But actual criticism of us going to war in the first place. The Socialist Party, Militant, the Communist Party, Tony Benn. All were against it because, get this, we'd never been interested in the Falklands Islanders before (sadly pretty true) and thus this war was all about a capitalist countries (that's us by the way) prestige. Maybe it was. But that is all "grand idea" sort of stuff. Back down out of the clouds of ideology, on the ground, we had a couple of thousand people who had NO ONE ELSE to look to for their right to live freely in the lands of their fathers under a Government of their choosing. If we hadn't gone, what would have become of them?

Whether Thatcher was going to war to protect the people or to protect the interests of an elite few, it doesn't really matter. Ultimately our forces defeated the invaders and liberated the islanders. Duly humbled, we decided that maybe the Falkland Islanders did deserve a bit more money and protection than before. And duly disheartened the Argentinian regime which had decided to invade the Falklands as one of it's last ditch attempts to hold power, fell to a democratic one.

This was not a imperialist adventure, this was fight for the right of self determination for the people of those islands. We must always remember that, and be proud that our country, when called upon to do it's duty, did not shy from it.

The Falklands War is one of the few wars in the history of the United Kingdom that I can truly say was a "just war". If you have a problem with that one, then the Second World War must be really difficult to stomach.

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1 comment:

Bill said...

I lived in Oman when the war began and by the time it had ended I had already been in Hong Kong for about a month, having holidayed and moved there in the interval.

I agree with most of what you write; it was certainly a 'just' war. The bizarre thing is that the British government had been quietly negotiating 'joint sovereignty' for a few years with Argentina and I am pretty sure that in due course the UK would quietly have off-loaded this 'anachronism' if events had been allowed to run their course. The idiot Galtieri, by his impulsiveness, scuppered all that.

Although officially 'neutral' it is clear that the US provided absolutely vital satellite surveillance data and other technical assistancce, whilst France (which supplied the missiles used by Argentina) covertly supplied the UK with the codes necessary to make our own targetting of them much easier. Not forgetting the Chileans under Pinochet - one of the main reasons why Thatcher thought so highly of what he had done to help us.

Politics and diplomacy is often a dirty affair. Unfortunately, but necessarily.

Galtieri really was a fool and the Argentinian people quickly got rid of him soon afterwards.