The Polish situation

To moderate the Argentine’s position towards the UK in the Falklands Crisis, the US recognizes that the most effective measures are also the most drastic, the most likely to do permanent damage to our long-term relations with Argentina and Latin America. So the State Department, as a mediator came up with some moderate steps to not seriously affect Argentina and increase its nationalistic resistance to foreign pressure.

One of the moderate measures is
The US could jawbone banks on lending to Argentina, but this would be antithetical to the Administration’s free market approach to international financial matters (the US has not even approached banks on the Polish situation). (Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1981–1988, Volume XIII, Conflict in the South Atlantic, 1981–1984 - Office of the Historian)

Can anybody help me with “the Polish situation”?
What does “the Polish situation” refer to?
Thank you in advance.

Are you studying international relations?


Judging from his post history, he’s been studying the Falklands war exclusively for well over a year now.

I suppose it refers to the riots in Poland that were contemporaneous with the Falklands War. Google Solidarnosc to find out more about it.

I’m into how the US deals with disputes between two allies, and I’ve learned a lot from this great forum.

Life is short. I try to learn as much as I can before it’s too late.
I’ve learned a lot from you all and I’m grateful to all of you.

Thank you very much.

Those were the Solidarity years in Poland when there was growing resistance to Soviet domination. It was always in the international news. What if there was a uprising in Poland? There had a been uprisings in other countries, which were crushed. It would be a someones job to anticipate this and develop some a policy options. This was during the Cold War and careful evaluation of what the Soviets are up to around the world was important. The US was keen to keep Communism out of the Americas. The Soviets were keen to promote division between the US and its allies and support liberation movements against oppressive regimes. Signs in instability in Soviet occupied Europe would have been the counterpoint to this.

The Falklands war was not in the interests of the US, the UK or Argentina. But it made the US choose between supporting an important ally or a ruthless dictator looking for an easy way out of an internal crisis.

I leave it to you to decide which was which. :rofl:

Much obliged for your informative explation.

Nit-pick, but the Argentinian government was a military junta, not a single dictator.

Quite so.

Galtieri was not quite in control of the Junta and I don’t doubt that that insecurity contributed to the whole mad military escapade.

I suspect Argentina could have made some progress with a negotiated diplomatic solution to the Falklands question if they had tried. Some clever long term compromise to settle the argument over who owns these windswept islands, their sheep and penguins.

The Falklands War was quite unnecessary. They are not in a strategic location and have few resources worth fighting over. The international consequences have been to create a stalemate that looks impossible to break out of. However the consequences for the internal politics of the UK and Argentina were both considerable. The UK got a decade of Thatcherism. Argentina got a humiliated military that set it on a course towards democratic civilian government and ruled out further military adventures to the relief of its neighbours like Chile.

This small war came out of nowhere and suddenly tested both governments and their military.

It was a particularly bad day for the US when two Western allies suddenly started brawling over a few small islands. It was an unnecessary distraction from the Cold War face off with Soviets and their proxies.

There are three quite different perspectives on this: from the viewpoint of US, the UK and Argentinian interests. On the Falklands, life goes on as it did before this war. The sheep and the penguins carry on and the small population remains defiantly British with the UK government footing the bill for its defense. The Argentines sometimes protest when their politicians need an axe to grind. But everyone knows that it is a stalemate and a dead end. I guess if there was some kind of gold mine to be won, then the stakes would be higher. But nothing much has emerged. It remains a windy desolate group of islands in the South Atlantic. It’s value is in political symbolism and a dispute between sovereign nation states over who has possession of this modest territory.

The graves of the brave soldiers show the human cost when talks fail and nations pursue diplomacy by other means.

There are lessons to be learned from the Falklands war, and no shortage of other islands around the world where this sort of conflict could escalate.

There are commercially justifiable quantities oil and gas out there on both sides of the border, UK and Argentine, which probably was not known at the time.

There’s a very good question about just how much and how economical it would be, and it’s unlikely to ignite a new war, but it’s a relevant resource that could potentially have significant economic impact.

ETA: I will note that Argentina has already claimed hydrocarbon exploration and production is operating illegally off the islands on the UK side and claim the resources belong to Argentina. As might be imagined, this isn’t really stopping things.

I would doubt that. There’s a long-standing British policy that the UK would not agree to any change in the status of an overseas territory unless that territory asks for it, either by a parliamentary vote or a referendum. The Falkland Islanders of 1982 would probably have preferred being British over being Argentinian (as they do now), so I don’t see much room for Whitehall to enter into any kind of agreement over the islands with Argentina.

There are big barriers to exploiting Oil reserves in the Falklands, not least the lack of a deep water port and other infrastructure. There are big price tags associated with these items. That requires public investment. In four decades there has not been much progress. Lots of very optimistic estimates from exploration companies. But economic viability is another matter. Also the Argentines try to discourage companies from investing as much as they can. Trying to simultaneously encourage investment in areas they control is hardly reassuring to investors.

Oil and Gas is a risky business and the investments required to exploit a field in deep water is in the billions. There are many other opportunities and the state of the market is big consideration. Currebt geopolitical tensions are making the market very volatile and lots of investment plans have been torn up. There are far better prospects than the Falklands. I suspect something might be afoot with Venezuela before long and that countries considerable petroleum assets are a known quantity.

A deep water port in the Falklands would certainly help the cruise ship trade. It will be interesting to see if the UK government decides to invest the millions required. Argentina seems to regularly discourage cruise ships from stopping at the Falklands. I guess this kind of economic harassment is what passes for diplomacy in a country with a political culture that appears to be quite immature.

The Falklands Question will rumble on for decades to come. The Malvinas for Argentina will be a bone of contention they chew on from time to time when some populist politician is looking for an issue to do a bit of flag waving. Argentines are have quite a reputation for entitled attention seeking across South America. Maybe their regular protests over the Falklands at least draws their attention away from picking fights with other neighbouring countries.

If the UK manages to cover its costs for defending the place, that will be an achievement.

I like your posts. Your questions are always specific and well-sourced. Plus, you give our military and foreign policy nerds something to do. :slight_smile:

I agree, and they’re very polite as well. Besides, why is being highly interested in and wanting to understand the Falklands War better so different from being that interested in say WWII?

I’m interested in the Falklands Crisis, especially the process of how the US did to defuse the dispute between the UK and Argentina. Both are important allies to the US during the Reagan administration. Argentina had been instrumental in fighting or containing the spread of communism in Central America, whereas the UK has always been a cornerstone of NATO to fight the USSR, America’s biggest enemy.
On the other hand, due to the long distance between London and the Islands, I personally consider the UK wouldn’t have won the war if the US had not offered enough intelligence and weapons among others.

I’m in Taiwan, facing the threat from China, and don’t know whether the US will come to our rescue if the threat comes true for the distance between Washington and Taipei is long enough to doubt the in-time assistance. To sum up, that’s why I’m into the Falklands Crisis. One cannot deny there are some similarities between Taiwan and the Falkland Islands.

It was the era of shuttle diplomacy and General Haigh certainly racked up the air miles.

The long build up to the armada setting forth on its long journey to the South Atlantic gave lots of time for a fulsome attempt at a compromise. There was also a great debate in the UK at the time, with the socialist leader of the opposition, Michael Foot, arguing for compromise under the auspices of the UN. This did not go down well with many on the Left for whom fighting a fascist dictatorship is a reflex action. In the UK political opinion was pretty much united and in Thatcher they found a resolute leader.

The US tried to search for some kind of compromise, but it always had a great deal more invested in its relationship with the UK. Intelligence between the US and the UK goes back to WW2 and the code cracking technology that was shared with the US. Also the air to air missiles came in quite handy. Argentina was chaotic and autocratic, with a military that specialised in persecuting its own people. It was not difficult to see the US would support the UK when it came to conflict. The UK was a key partner in facing off the USSR during the Cold War. Argentina was unreliable and if it was successful in annexing the Falklands it was likely be emboldened to press territorial claims on its neighbours. This would not have been in US interests. In the end, I think the outcome for South American states was probably satisfactory. It clipped the wings of a bellicose Argentinian military junta and the country swung towards a civilian led democracy.

There are some big differences between Taiwan/China and Falklands/Argentina. Taiwan has a large population, has a technologically advanced economy and a military that is well trained and equipped and is in a strategic position. The Falklands is in the wind swept South Atlantic that is not very strategically important. It has not many people, it had a few dozen soldiers and rather a lot of sheep. Not much of a prize for any nation to fight over, which is why it was quite unexpected.

In the end, the Falklands war was a relatively small engagement, though it had lots of political consequences and some important military lessons. It was highly unusual in terms of the logistical challenges involved. For the UK it was a close shave, but few other countries could have mounted such an campaign. Could France do the same if one of its colonies was invaded in the same way? What to do with these remnants of empire is perplexing problem for the UK and several other countries that had overseas possessions.

I am sure China is looking very carefully at the difficulties the Russian army is having in their invasion of Ukraine and will be very keen not to make the same mistake of underestimating nation determined to defend itself from invasion by a more powerful neighbour. Modern warfare between well equipped armies is hugely expensive in terms of men and material and then there is the question of…what to do next with the territory gained and a resentful population. There seldom seems to be a coherent plan for that.

The lesson is that there is far more benefit to be made out peace-time trade and war is particularly ruinous. Sadly there seems to be no shortage of mad leaders who think it is the short cut to glory and a useful distraction from their own mismanagement. It is very difficult to predict when something like this might happen. When it does, international alliances become very important. This is something the UK itself would do well to re-learn.

It will be interesting to see whether the disasterous invasion of Ukraine by Russia leads to a more positive policy of China towards Taiwan.

I hope it does.

Back to the original question: the Falklands crisis occurred several months into the Polish government’s period of martial law attempting to suppress the Solidarnosc movement and dissidents in general. I’m assuming the reference quoted implied something along the lines of “We haven’t used financial pressure in response to martial law and suppression of human rights in Poland, so why would we against Argentina?”