The Falklands War

Britain Versus the Past in the South Atlantic


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About the Book

The Falklands War is an ideal showcase for how British policy evolved in the 1970s and 1980s. The background of the dispute over the island group in the remote South Atlantic (called Las Malvinas by the Argentines) is given first, then the events that precipitated the 1982 conflict and extensive examination of the military aspects of the war are provided. An overview follows of the many hypotheses offered for the British motivation to recapture the Falklands, showing that only those theories pertaining to the British perception of their national honor and the defense of democratic principles are significant. The Falklands War did not result in a dramatic shift in British defense policy, but did show the importance of external developments and political realism in policy formation, and these considerations are fully detailed here.

About the Author(s)

Daniel K. Gibran is a professor of international relations at Tennessee State University, Nashville. He lives in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Daniel K. Gibran
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [1997]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3736-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9009-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

One: Background to the Falklands War      13
The Islands and Their People      14
Historical Background: Discovery and Settlement, 1492–1833      21
Legal Standing of Conflicting Claims to Sovereignty      30
Bases of Argentine Claims      33
Bases of British Claims      39
General Assessment of the Disputants’ Claims      42
Britain’s Relationship to the Falklands Prior to 2 April 1982      44
Conclusion      51

Two: The Falklands War and the Use of Military Force      53
The Road to Conflict: The Junta’s Decision to Invade the Falklands      57
British Military Response: The Task Force      73
Legal Dimensions of the Use of Force in the Falklands War      83
Conclusion      87

Three: British Motivations to Recapture the Falkland Islands      89
A North-South Conflict?      91
Economic, Geopolitical, and Strategic Importance of the Falklands      96
Domestic Economic and National Honor Considerations      103
Defense of Democratic Principles      110
Conclusion      116

Four: British Defense Policy After the Falklands War      121
British Defense Policy Before the Falklands War:
The Way Forward, 1979–81      123
Cost of the War and “Fortress Falklands” Policy      129
Politicostrategic Lessons      137
Military and Technological Lessons      143
Effects on British Defense Policy      151

Five: Conclusion      161
The Political Nature of the Falklands Issue in Britain      161
The Time Frame of the British Decision to Recapture the Islands      163
The Issue of Economic Constraints on British Defense Policy      164
The Salience of Wider Politicostrategic Developments on British Defense Policy      166

Conclusion      167
Notes      169
Appendices      185
A. British Naval Vessels Involved in the South Atlantic During the Falklands War      185
B. British Ship and Aircraft Losses      187
C. The Falklands War Cabinet      188
Bibliography      189
Index      201

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This work will be profitably read by those interested in international affairs…. All levels”—Choice
  • “Interesting, well written and well researched volume”—The Journal of America’s Military Past