With the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War I was wondering if Britain could have called on other nations in NATO to sail into the south Atlantic to help invade? The US supplied some weaponry and I’ve read somewhere that France was supposed to have given advice on the exocet missiles used aganst the Royal Navy but were any other nations under any sort of obligations to help the UK?
I guess the short answer is “they didn’t ask.”
NATO did condemn the attack (sorry, lost the link), but did not go out of its way to do anything. People like Germany probably wish France and the UK would get rid of their colonies. In any event, the UK was easily up to the task.
Mutual defense treaties are like parachutes. When you find out they don’t work, it’s already too late.
Countries will do what they want. They will only obey those treaties so far as it is in their interests and they wish their word to be honored. Say the US asked France to help us after 9/11. Asked for military help. France says “screw you.” What does the US do, invade France? The worst we can do is kick them out of NATO; and if you get to the point where you’re asking allies for direct military help, things are probably Very Bad, and the last thing you’re worried about is kicking people out of non-functioning clubs.
NATO did invoke mutual defense… but again, there’s no rule that says the US can MAKE France or anyone else do anything. And you don’t want to ask, because then what if they say no?
IMO, NATO is mostly a one-way street. The US will defend Europe, but if push comes to shove, and (god forbid) China or some a Pan-Arabic alliance declared war on the US, I can’t see France or Germany sticking their necks out. It’d be pretty much English-speaking countries only.
Anyhoo, back to the OP: The US did get a request to honor a mutual-defense treaty in 1982. From Argentina, asking the US to honor the 1949 Rio accords. Ummm… no.
The US senate supported the UK, with only one vote against. Name that (still-serving) senator without looking, and win a prize.
This has been discussed before. NATO was designed “to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area,” not to protect the Falklands, Hawaii, Hong Kong, etc.
According to Hastings and Jenkins in their book Battle for the Falklands, the Americans provided some of their finest support for the U.K. in advance, by not providing the manuals for the armor-piercing bombs the Argentinians were using against the British fleet. The bombs could be set for penetration depth, but the Argentinians appear to have been unaware of this. As a result several ships escaped by merely being holed.
Check out the stacked deck of UXBs during the Falklands War here.
The U.S. has been singled out a number of times for providing reconaissance intelligence to one allied or neutral warring party at the expense of another, including in the Falklands and also in support of the Israeli raid on Entebbe. I mention all this because I wonder if recon activity is prohibited by the NATO protocols.
NATO began registering its AWACS aircraft through Luxembourg beginning in 1982. Any of our Falklands vets recall seeing the Lion Markings on Ascension Island around that time?
I’ve read elsewhere (no I don’t remember where) an interview with a UK commander that the UK forces would have been overextended had the conflict gone on another week.
Possibly, but there was an interesting recent corrective to the oft-expressed view that the conflict was a close-run thing. In a BBC4 interview with Roger Bolton following their screening of The Falklands Play, John Nott (the Defence minister at the time) admitted that he’d initially had doubts about the feasibilty of the military operation, but that these disappeared after the first few days of briefings from the service chiefs. While it wasn’t going to be risk-free, he did feel confident of a British victory by the time the Task Force sailed. He (naturally) gave every impression that he still believes this was a realistic assessment of the situation.
The Argentinians only real hope was to inflict significant damage on the Task Force with their air force. Once the British troops were ashore it was really all over.
I don’t know if it makes any difference, but technically it was not a war, merely a police action
Damn, I had to look it up, so I don’t win a prize.
But the vote was only 79-1, so 20 Senators sat it out. Ted Stevens was opposed to the measure also.
Didn’t UN Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick also make a big fuss about us not supporting Argentina?
Why did Helms vote against it?