To what extent was the Falklands Wars a war of distraction?
Summary of Evidence
There are numerous events that occurred which lead to the Falklands War in 1982 between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the ownership of the Falklands Islands.
Argentina encountered brutal military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, and went through a harsh economics crisis. The conflicting views between society and the government caused massive uproar and the NRP, National Reorganization Process murdered thousand of citizens. Also, there was increase of corruption which the government thought would infest its reputation. Power was passed on to from General Roberto Viola to General Leopoldo Galtieri who was unpopular between the Argentineans. Inflation grew rapidly and exceeded 600%, and GDP, manufacturing output, and real wages decreased significantly. (Middlebrook, Martin) Galtieri was determined to gain popularity and distract them from the economic situation, thus he believed that the occupation of the Falklands would aid in his reputation by evoking patriotism in his people. Argentina hinted to the United Nations that there would be a possible invasion, however they did not react, and so the Argentineans assumed that the British would exempt from using force if there was an invasion of the islands. (Trueman, Chris)
The landings on South Georgia were also a cause of this war. In 1980, Admiral Edgardo Otero, a formerly the notorious commander, established a base in South Georgia. This operation was approved by an adimiral, who promised to others this operation would be cancelled. In December 1981, an Argentine entrepreneur, Constantino Davidoff, had a contract to scrap an old whaling station in South Georgia and he headed there without making any formal agreements with the base at Grytviken and this lead to protests by British Government. (Dabat, Alejandro and Luis Lorenzano) Davidoff then called the British Embassy to apologize and ensured that the men would follow correct protocols, and received permission to continue with his project. Thus, on March 11, a naval transport set sail carrying Argentine marines posing as scrap workers. This marked the beginning of Operation Alpha. The BAS party sent to investigate found that they haved established a camp, removed British signs, broken into the BAS hut and removed emergency rations, and had shot reindeers which was illegal. They also reported numerous men in military uniform and that the Argentine flag was raised. (Smith, Gordan)
A series of diplomatic exchanges then took place. The Falkland Island Governor and subsequently the Foreign Office ordered that the Argentine flag must be taken down and that they must report to the British at Grytviken to have their passports stamped. Although the flag was lowered, there ware still men left behind. On March 21st HMS Endurance set sail with 20 members from the Royal Marines in order to expel the remaining men, however there were orders to stop this operation. (Dugdale-Pointon) The Argentineans took advantage of this pause by the British and landed a party of Special Forces called Buzo Tacticos. The Royal Marine were ordered to abstain from using force and instead set up an observation post to monitor the situation. However, a larger group of Royal Marines landed on March 31 because at this point it became very clear that the Argentine forces wanted to seize the Falklands. The next day, attacks took place in the Grytviken base.
There was also failed diplomacy between United Kingdom and Argentina, as they had no formal diplomatic relations and thus most negotiations were carried out in a rather indirect way. The Secretary-General of the United Nations intervened here and tried to propose a peace plan, which was rejected by both sides. (McClure, Jason)
In 1982 invasion of the islands began and the Argentineans attacked building around Stanley including Government House and the Moody Brook Barracks. Only one British Royal Marine was wounded, and one Argentine killed in the main invasion and this shows that this war is a limited war as its main objective is to invade the islands, and avoided casualties.
Trueman, Chris. History Learning Site. 1 Dec. 2008 .
Dabat, Alejandro and Luis Lorenzano, Argentina: The Malvinas and the end of military rule.
Dugdale-Pointon, T., (18 February 2006), The Falklands War 1982, http://www.historyofwar.org/aticles/wars_falklands.html
Argentine Malvinas on the Web (Malvinas Argentinas en la Web).
Official home page of the Argentine war veterans. 20 March 2000.
Smith, Gordan, http://www.naval-history.net/NAVAL1982FALKLNDS.htm
Maclure, Jason, http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2004/nov/mcclureNOV04.asp#referenc
Martin Middlebrook, The Argentine Fight For The Falklands, http://books.google.com/books?id=Ip-9_W7efbAC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=main+cause+of+the+falklands+war&source=web&ots=sVokbdxkPt&sig=QzXea3C8cye88cg3tuEB0pKyhpw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#143,M
The Falklands War can be considered to be a war of distraction for a number of purposes. Tony Wheeler, author of “The Falklands and South Georgia Islands,” claims that “concerned about Argentina’s chronic instability…
However, a second source, an article by Jason McClure, disagrees with this. He claims that “contemporary analysis tends to view the invasion as a scapegoat for the military regime in order to bolster nationalism throughout Argentine society and divert attention away from the junta’s failing national reorganization plan, the Proceso de Reoganización Nacional. However, such analysis is risky, for it ignores key problems in the international system representing a rift between the developed and developing worlds.
Many contemporary analysts put the idea that the junta invaded the Falklands to increase domestic legitimacy. Two sets of facts make this motivation appear to be dominant in the regime’s decision making process: the lack of legitimacy and poor performance of the junta at the start of 1981, and the effect the invasion did produce in domestic Argentine society. (Source A) (Will include footnotes later)