Why did President Reagan call UK Prime Minister Thatcher to request the Iron Lady to give up the Falkland Islands after the Argentines occupied them with force?
I don’t know anything about such a phone call but the US was trying to avoid escalation of the conflict. One reason was the fear of opening a door for the Soviet Union to get involved with Argentina. This ended quickly once the UK announced they were to going to take back the islands and the US backed and aided the British counter invasion. In addition the UN position had been that the UK and Argentina should resolve the matter through diplomacy.
When did this happen? I can’t find info about this phone call.
I don’t know about such a phone call either, but I’m no expert and have no intention of trawling through Madam’s memoirs to see if she mentioned it.
But my recollection is that there appeared to be quite a protracted and semi-public split within the Reagan administration, to the point that the US representative at the UN voted in a way contrary to what Haig(?) had said or implied to the UK representative. The impression certainly was that some in the Administration wanted some sort of (however face-saving) way of transferring sovereignty: but then, successive UK governments, including Thatcher’s, had previously given the impression they might be interested in such an idea.
But that was IIRC before the task force arrived and the shooting started.
Could be referring to this.
Paywalled. Can you quote the relevant text?
Sure: “one Thatcher aide chronicled a midnight telephone call Reagan made to Mrs. Thatcher on May 31, 1982 … urged the prime minister to show magnanimity rather than force the invading Argentine troops to surrender … “The best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation,” the memo recorded Reagan as saying. “As the U.K. now had the upper hand, it should strike a deal now,” rather than act in a way that further hardened Argentine feelings … Thatcher rejected the president’s appeal for talks three times, becoming more emphatic each time. “Britain had not lost precious lives in battle and sent an enormous task force to hand over the queen’s islands to a contact group,” Mrs. Thatcher told him, adding a brusque reminder that Britain had been forced to “act alone, with no outside help,” in recovering the islands … “asked the president to put himself in her position,” the memo said. “She was sure the president would act in the same way if Alaska had similarly been threatened.” The memo said the call ended with Mrs. Thatcher saying that the only acceptable outcome was for the Argentines to agree to withdraw without negotiation, which happened a few weeks later.”
If this OP is asking why Reagan would just as soon let Argentina keep the islands, it’s because the whole invasion was a jingoistic ploy by the right wing Argentinian government to stay in power; something the Reagan Administration wanted. Reagan had invested a lot of political capital restoring relations with the military junta after they refused to support Carter’s grain embargo against the USSR (for their invasion of Afghanistan) and he didn’t want the country overthrown by pesky pro-democracy types.
Fundamentally the US had no dog in the fight, both the belligerents were US allies, and there was a cold war going on in which the soviets were going to milk a war between two US allies (and in particular one in defense of a colonial possession) for all its worth. The obvious choice for the US was to accept the Argentine fait accompli and avoid an escalation of the conflict.
I found this:
A memo written by one Thatcher aide chronicled a midnight telephone call Reagan made to Mrs. Thatcher on May 31, 1982, when British troops were closing in on Port Stanley, capital of the British-ruled Falkland Islands, off the coast of Argentina, and the site of the last undefeated Argentine garrison.
Reagan, yielding to advisers who regarded Britain’s insistence on retaining sovereignty over the sparsely populated islands as a colonial anachronism, urged the prime minister to show magnanimity rather than force the invading Argentine troops to surrender, and to reach a cease-fire deal providing for a shared Argentine-British role in the islands’ future and a joint American-Brazilian peacekeeping force.
“The best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation,” the memo recorded Reagan as saying. “As the U.K. now had the upper hand, it should strike a deal now,” rather than act in a way that further hardened Argentine feelings.
But the memo said Mrs. Thatcher rejected the president’s appeal for talks three times, becoming more emphatic each time. “Britain had not lost precious lives in battle and sent an enormous task force to hand over the queen’s islands to a contact group,” Mrs. Thatcher told him, adding a brusque reminder that Britain had been forced to “act alone, with no outside help,” in recovering the islands, an oblique reference to the American refusal to be drawn directly into the conflict on the British side.
That is quite a bit different from a call requesting Thatcher to give up the Falklands.
It’s all I could find. I have no dog in this one. Just offered it FWIW.
No, I thank you for that. I think the OP had it wrong.
Did he? Surely you can back that up.
And are you stopping back here, @cannonkuo? Will you ever read this?
Thank you so much for your input. I’m very interested in the evidence showing the then Reagan administration had put in a lot of political capital in restoring or improving relations with the Argentine junta.
Could you help me where to find such evidence? Did Reagan do this to counter the Soviet development of communism both in central and Latin America?
Thank you very much.
Based on your recollection, why you had the impression there was a split within the Reagan administration? Did you read it from newspapers, magazines, or any TV shows?
Thank you very much.
Given the special relationship between the US and the UK, I had doubts why Reagan made the phone call requesting Thatcher to give up the British colony. Turns out there had been something behind the phone call.
Those doubts certainly weren’t hinted at in your OP. You were wrong.
As I recall from press and broadcast news coverage in the UK from that time, it was clear that Jeane Kirkpatrick (then US Ambassador to the UN) was taking a more or less overtly pro-Argentian line, while Haig was more emollient.
Though more recent revelations suggest the divide wasn’t as clear-cut as seemed publicly apparent at the time, I’m sure the particular incident I mentioned over the US vote at the UN suggesting chaotic divisions in Washington was reported at the time. It appears to have been picked up by a couple of US regional papers, no doubt from UK or agency sources, but they’re only accessible behind a subscription service. If you want to follow that up, try googling “anthony parsons”+“absolutely breathtaking”.
Footnote to mine above - here’s an example that doesn’t have to be paid for: