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  1. #1
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    Default The Falklands Crisis

    Before this thread comes to its conclusion with the Doctor Who story, Timeflight, I'd just like to bring up one of the biggest news stories of the year. The Falklands War.
    The Falklands War began on Friday 2 April 1982, when Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force, and retake the islands by amphibious assault. The resulting conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, which returned the islands to British control. 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the conflict. It remains the most recent external conflict to be fought by the UK without any allied states and the only external Argentine war since the 1880s.

    The conflict was the result of a protracted historical confrontation regarding the sovereignty of the islands. Argentina has asserted that the Falkland Islands are Argentinian territory since the 19th century and, as of 2012, shows no sign of relinquishing the claim. The claim was added to the Argentine constitution after its reformation in 1994. As such, the Argentine government characterised their initial invasion as the re-occupation of its own territory, whilst the British government saw it as an invasion of a British dependent territory. However, neither state officially declared war and hostilities were almost exclusively limited to the territories under dispute and the local area of the South Atlantic.

    The conflict had a strong impact in both countries. Patriotic sentiment ran high in Argentina, but the outcome prompted large protests against the ruling military government, which hastened its downfall. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government was bolstered by the successful outcome, which helped carry them to victory in the 1983 general election. The war has played an important role in the culture of both countries, and has been the subject of several books, films, and songs. Over time, the cultural and political weight of the conflict has had less effect on the British public than on that of Argentina, where the war is still a topic of discussion.
    Relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina were restored in 1989 under the umbrella formula which states that the islands' sovereignty dispute would remain aside.

    One of the biggest, and most controversial events during the crisis was undoubtedly the sinking of The General Belgrano.
    Two separate British naval task forces (one of surface vessels and one of submarines) and the Argentine fleet were operating in the neighbourhood of the Falklands, and soon came into conflict. The first naval loss was the World War II-vintage Argentine light cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Belgrano on 2 May. Three hundred and twenty-three members of Belgrano's crew died in the incident. Over 700 men were rescued from the open ocean despite cold seas and stormy weather. The losses from Belgrano totalled nearly half of the Argentine deaths in the Falklands conflict and the loss of the ARA General Belgrano hardened the stance of the Argentine government.

    Regardless of controversies over the sinking, it had a crucial strategic effect: the elimination of the Argentine naval threat. After her loss, the entire Argentine fleet, with the exception of the conventional submarine ARA San Luis, returned to port and did not leave again for the duration of hostilities. The two escorting destroyers and the battle group centred on the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo both withdrew from the area, ending the direct threat to the British fleet that their pincer movement had represented.

    In a separate incident later that night, British forces engaged an Argentine patrol gunboat, the ARA Alferez Sobral. At the time, the Alferez Sobral was searching for the crew of the Argentine Air Force Canberra light bomber shot down on 1 May. Two Royal Navy Lynx helicopters fired four Sea Skua missiles at her. Badly damaged and with eight crew dead, the Sobral managed to return to Puerto Deseado two days later, but the Canberra's crew were never found.

    The media attention was frenzied, though fascinatingly rivetting. I remember how frightening some of the news images (a lot of it censored though) were that were sent home by reporters and TV crews. The crisis dominated our screens for months, with the familiar sight of Ministry of Defence spokesman Ian McDonald delivering the latest on war casualties.
    The newspapers were split on the merits of the war, The Daily Mirror was the most anti conflict, while The Sun relished in the opportunistic headlines that were forthcoming from its over imaginative reporters. "What an Argie Bargy!" and the most controversial "Gotcha!" over the sinking of the Belgrano.

    Argentinian feelings are still bubbling today, as the UK is prepared to "commemorate" 30 years since the crisis, BP are exploring oil reserves around the island's shores, amongst rising anger. Also the British Government have sent HMS Dauntless into the south Atlantic with a high profile tour of duty from Prince William.
    As the anniversary approaches feelings from both sides are bound to become taut, we shall see what we shall see.
    Last edited by Stephen Morgan; 13th Feb 2012 at 1:43 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    It seems very appropriate to bring this up now, with all the posturing that appears to be going on related to the Falklands.

    There's always an assumed knowledge when people talk about this as an historical event; for example, the sinking of the Belgrano is often mentioned by the press and on TV without any information about what the Belgrano was, or who's side she was on. So much so, that someone like me could get through most of their life being familiar with the name 'Belgrano' but knowing little about the circumstances of its demise.

    So thanks Stephen for being clear and explaining what you were talking about!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    Default

    If British people want to go and live on a island off the coast of Argentina, fair enough. But it's a bit rich calling it "Britain".

  4. #4
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    Default

    There's always an assumed knowledge when people talk about this as an historical event; for example, the sinking of the Belgrano is often mentioned by the press and on TV without any information about what the Belgrano was, or who's side she was on. So much so, that someone like me could get through most of their life being familiar with the name 'Belgrano' but knowing little about the circumstances of its demise
    There is a sort of 'gap' between something being current and actually becoming sufficiently long ago to start being 'taught' as history, isn't there - so for my generation, certainly growing up, and although by no means as big a thing as the Falklands conflict, the Profumo affair was something that was referred to without explanation, or (perhaps a better example) Kennedy's assassination.

    I was in my last year at Primary School during the Falklands, and with a pretty shaky grasp on both history and geography, I can remember being worried in case the Blitz should start up again.

  5. #5
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    Default

    To me this seems to be flaring up again because of the possibility of oil being found near the Falklands.

    The sooner someone invents a cheap & plentiful alternative to the damn stuf,f the more peace we'll have in the world...... or maybe not. I guess there's always religion to stoke up the flames of conflict......

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