UK & World News
Reagan's Last-Ditch Falklands Plea Revealed
Ronald Reagan issued a last-ditch appeal to Margaret Thatcher to abandon her campaign to retake the Falklands and to hand over the islands to international peacekeepers, according to official documents made public today.
Files released by the National Archives at Kew, South West London, under the 30-year rule show that as British troops closed in on final victory, the US president made a late-night phone call to Mrs Thatcher urging her not to completely humiliate the Argentines.
However, his request fell on deaf ears as a defiant Prime Minister insisted that she had not sent a British task force across the globe just "to hand over the Queen's islands to a contact group".
Mr Reagan made his call to Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street at 11.30pm London time on May 31, 1982, as British forces were beginning the battle for Port Stanley, the Falklands capital.
The Americans had already proposed sending a joint US-Brazilian peacekeeping mission, and the president suggested that the time had come to show magnanimity.
"The best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation," he told her. "As the UK now had the upper hand militarily, it should strike a deal now."
But Mrs Thatcher said she could not contemplate a ceasefire without Argentinian withdrawal.
According to the official No 10 note, she told him: "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.
"As Britain had had to go into the islands alone, with no outside help, she could not now let the invader gain from his aggression. The Prime Minister asked the president to put himself in her position.
"She had lost valuable British ships and invaluable British lives. She was sure that the president would act in the same way if Alaska had been similarly threatened."
The Prime Minister said "the most sensible thing" would be for the Argentinians to withdraw, before ending the conversation with a familiar refrain: "There was no alternative."
As the battle reached its climax she even drafted a telegram to the Argentinian leader General Galtieri - although it was never sent - demanding for a final time that he withdraw his forces.
"In a few days the British flag will be flying over Port Stanley. In a few days also your eyes and mine will be reading the casualty lists," she wrote.
"On my side, grief will be tempered by the knowledge that these men died for freedom, justice and the rule of law. And on your side? Only you can answer that question."
The files also include Mrs Thatcher's hitherto unpublished testimony to the Franks Inquiry into the conflict.
In it, she described her horror when, at the end of March 1982, she became aware that the Argentinians were about to invade.
"I just say it was the worst, I think, moment of my life," she told the inquiry.
"I never, never expected the Argentines to invade the Falklands head-on. It was such a stupid thing to do, as events happened, such a stupid thing even to contemplate doing."
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.
what do you think?
Maggie was right. Cameron wouldn't have the guts to take a similar attitude. Blair didn't want to defend the Falklands - he was running in a by-election at the time and lost!
Strange attitude you have Vlad - those "useless rocks" were and remain the legitimate home of some British people, just as the rocks under our homes here. Are you saying that some British people's homes should be defended but not others?
Vlad. Given your attitude had this happened in 1939 we would still be part of the greater reich. In history there are times when a stand has to be made and the Falklands was one of them. You are allowing your hatred of Thatcher to cloud your judgement as the rest of your comment confirms
That's funny.. was thinking the same thing about Hawaii...
They humiliated our troops when they showed them on tv surrendering,give the America's back to the Indians.
As a miner who suffered under thatcher will say non of todays politicians as the balls to defend our country like she did
Adj. Praise indeed from someone who had every reason to hate her. Oh that more on here were as unblinkered
Never sed I suported her just pointed out non of todays polititcians have got the back bone to defend our country NUM mouth
Love her or hate her, she was the last real prime minister we have had!
at least she had a back bone
Agreed derek - she was our last Prime Minister with the b***s to stand-up for this country. Especially with regard to fighting for a rebate from the EU - which incidentally Blair gave part of it away for a promised reform of the CAP, which never happened - did Blair care, did he.......b...........s
Blair never did anything for this country. Everything was for him. He got us involved in five wars as he strutted his stuff as an "international statesman". He ought to be in jail where he belongs.
In 1982 the Falklands weren't saved by Maggie Thatcher. In 1982 the Falklands saved Maggie Thatcher's political career.
Stevie. I think you are only half right. The conflict did save Thatchers career but but there is no doubt that the islands would still be in Argentine hands had she not authorised intervention
You are silly fellow, May. And well I know that you will continue to churn out anti-Tory drivel indefinitely because you've persuaded yourself that it is true.
Dont need any self persuasion to know exactly what thatcher is. . . Ps - Howard? Who calls their children Howard? What are your middle names - crispin cholmsly warner?
More tripe from the left. Labour would have left them to rot under Argentine rule. This country would have been bankrupted years ago and left defenceless under Foots madness. No wonder the labour manifesto was called the longest suicide note in history!
Steve, do you remember the days before Thatcher.,and why are you so childish to someone with a different veiw to yours
Oh dear. . Another toff. . . Lord Byron would no doubt be ashamed that youve taken his name, being the nonconformist he was. Shouldn't you be out hunting foxes?
I may recal on returning back to UK for a work break from Saudi Arabia I was so shocked as being in the UK and listening to a News Reporter interviewing someone in the Government, He was asking why have you done this? and went on the attack all the way through the interview, I remember thinking Had I landed in Argentina instead of the UK. Yet she was right and so titled IRON LADY not like Blair (in the name of G.O.D, B r o w n or B a l l s who have permanately ruined our stannard of living for our children, I wouldnt do Camerons job for all the tea in CHINA!! think on folks.
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
God sav us all from a media that does not put pressure on a government tsking it's contry in to a war, Quite right and proper that this action should be queried and debated in the media.
Of course, Thatcher could have prevented the invasion by informing Argentine 'diplomats, that the UK had a submarine in the south atlantic which would sink any Argentine ships coming within 100 miles of the Falkland islands. Wonder why she didn't do that; perhaps the fact she was about to lose a general election might have some bearing on the answer to that question? Yes, of course I'm cynical ... but politicians are politicians, and power is everything!
One submarine would not stop an invasion fleet, nor would it stop paratroops from landing. The Falkland Islands only had a tiny garrison at the time and it was easily overrun in spite their best efforts. As for losing a General election, that's a debatable point, since she went on to win a third, without fighting a war............
Thatcher's poll ratings were at an all-time low before the Falklands war. They were at an all-time high after the war. I believe the upcoming election certainly coloured her thinking.
666 Astaroth - you do know there is nothing satanic in putting the number 666 with the name Astaroth? Astaroth was a pagan Goddess of love (Astarte) corrupted by christian theologans into a 'demon'. . . And the oldest found Book of Revelations in Jordan numbers the number of the beast as 616. .
Do you not think that the Argentines where aware of what assets the UK had at their disposal before they attempted their invasion? All the later fuss about the sinking of the Belgrano by a submarine, but had it been the Argentines sinking a UK vessel by the same means, they wouldve been gloryfying it to no end. If their country didnt like the outcome, they only had themselves ( or rather their dictatorship government ) to blame.
The one thing that I have never understood is; what does Agentina actually want the place for ? don`t say " Oil ", they dont need sovereignity to drill for oil..
I understand there are also valuable mineral deposits in the area and it is thought there are more rich pickings nearer Antartica. A land base as close as possible to the deposits is an invaluable asset.
Why do we want the Isle of Wight. Are you saying the Argies could start oil exploration in the solent. The Falklands was a base for an oil and minerals exploration company, owned by the Thatchers. (Dennis actually). Why do the Argies want it.... even more so , why do we want it, if not for the oil rights.
What you say is very true Brian, and was well known at the time. The Thatchers had a big share in the company set up to exploit this fact. Had to be a contributing factor.
Vlad, just a quick one, what would you have done if you we're in charge of the country and your other half had a massive interest in the falklands, would you have walked away or would you defend your partner??????.
Bit of a loaded question, Steve. One that doesn't justify an answer. Are you saying that she was right to use our troops to defend her family business ?
Shetook this action as PM was PM, therefore her duty was to her country, not her partner
Not saying she was right or wrong just wanted to know if you would have protected your partners interests, I know I would protect my wife and her interests using every asset I have available.
So putting this topic and its rights and wrongs to one side, what you are saying Steve, is that you would send men to their deaths, using an army that did not belong to you, just to satisfy the business interests of your partner?
Please don't answer a question with a question, your all missing the point, we can all judge someone whether they've done right or wrong But put yourself in their shoes and what would you do, if you say you'd walk away and let you partner or child crash and burn then you completely kidding yourselves and if you can't answer the question then clearly you should go into politics yourself.
Well that was a lot better, even though the context was out of sync. Dennis Thatcher was not in the Falklands at the time, nor any of his family . I may of course be wrong. All he had there were business interests. Of course if I had a wife and children over there, I'd want to do something about it. BUT, I would not let other people die purely for business reasons.
Didn't the daft old bat run down naval cover prior to the invasion?
Actively encouraging an invasion, which she could then repel and raise her standing with the voters. She wasn't that clever, her advisers were, though. They say, and i accept, that Blair has blood on his hands. Well so has the evil Thatcher, but not as recent as Blair , so the tories will use that to shroud their own disgraceful actions. Politics, is an awful trade, especially when the ordinary man is killed to keep an evil old bat like her in power.
Actualy it was the previous Labour government that had scrapped the carriers and disbanded the fixed wing naval squadrons that where desperately needed at the time. Its been debated countless times that if the UK still had these assets, then Argentina would not have attempted the Falkland invasion.
The carriers were due to be scrapped. How far into history will you tories go, just to score a point. Pathetic. Labour had no say in the Falklands conflict. Thatcher , and only Thatcher had responsibility for what happened. Unnecessary war.
Watch what Cameron does with Gibraltar as soon as he thinks no-one is looking.
Why is it considered brave and courageous to send young soldiers to their death. Her children were not serving soldiers and she suffered no personal loss. There is a fine line between steadfastness and vainglorious stubborness. Margaret Thatcher would listen and take advice from nobody and that is not a good quality. Her family had commercial interests in those islands. I agree with the Falkland islanders being able to decide theit own destiny and nationality, but this should have been settled in the way that Pres Reagen suggested
The logic or your argument Louisa, is that if you were personally in danger from being attacked or killed - that no policeman should risk his personal safety to protect you or your family................unless the policeman was related to you? Were the Falkland Islanders not British citizens? Also, would you allow a foreign country to decide the future of this country? Think about you posting - it's silly and defeatist.
Because of the oil and mineral deposits in the area which make the Falklands an invaluable asset, there was never any chance that Britain was going to relinquish control. The people who live on the Falklands enable the democracy argument to be invoked as a (public) reason for continued British possession which is nice. Reagan offered Britain no open support and only limited secret military support. I believe his reason was that he saw opportunity for the USA if Argentina got tha Falklands. It's all about the oil and mineral deposits and still is to this day.
Gengis i did not say that at all. I am not a pacifist and do believe that there are some causes that have to be fought for-the spanish civil war, ww11 are the first two examples that come to mind. My point was that sending people to war does not mean that government leaders are brave and courageous, which is what they are sometimes called. I think the Argentinians were wrong to invade and respected the right of the Falkland Islanders to wish to remain British.. But i think we were wrong to go to war over it. If you wish to takes pokes at posters who are illogical and hasty, there are plenty to choose from. I understand that you don't agree with me but i can assure you that i do think about what i write
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
Louisa. I agree with your comments on sending soldiers and that MT didn't take advice kindly but you are way off the mark in thinking a UN peace keeping force was the answer. Had that been done the Argentinians would be in the Falklands to this day as resolution 200,001 asking them to please go home was being put to the floor of the UN
Sorry guys, i cannot agree. If an international solution had been sought then a few more young lives would have been saved and we may have found a solution. Every sensible leader hopes they neve have to make the decision to involve their country and it's citizens in a war and sometimes the wrong decision gets made. In this case i think it was the wrong decision. I was no fan of Galtieri and his regime and could not justify the Argentinian invasion. But i could not justify the young lives lost either. I don't expect you all to agree with me
Merry Christmas WLU. Hope you and the missus had a good one. Look forward to more debates in the new year! x
Andy May, you may not agree with me and i din't agree with you, but to use a disrespectful term like "sweaty argies" cannot be right. Argentinian teenagers died in that conflict, babies sent to war by their elders and "better". Our fallen deserve respect and honour but so do the fallen children of other countries and to describe them like that is not on.
Dave the UN is imperfect as most organisations as huge and unwieldy as that one are. Still glad we have it though, as a world without the UN would be a far worse place
Louisa, war is never about anything other than land and wealth. When a territory is invaded there are only two possible outcomes: immediate surrender or immediate war. Galtieri calculated that we were weak after defense cuts and thought we could not defend the Falklands. He was never going to go willingly so I have no idea where the solution you speak about was going to come from. Thatcher's choice was to surrender or defend and while I am no fan of Margaret Thatcher I have to say she did what she had to do. And believe me, the islanders were neither here nor there in the decision making process.
\\brian i don't disagree with a lot of what you say about international posturing and how little the opinion of the islanders really mattered. Believe me, i am not that naive! But what happens when two belligerent and stubborn heads of state collide is not the sort of behaviour i will ever support or condone
Brian, war usually is and usually always has been about territory, wealth and power. I do agree that there have been very few exceptions to this rule
Louisa. Could I ask if you agreed to british troops being committed to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991?? I did as I saw it in much the same way as the Falklands where a soveriegn state was invaded by an outsider. The UN spent 6 months talking about it so I would also question you assertion that we would be worse of without it. That however is another debate for another day
The Falkland islanders are BRITISH CITIZENS. End of argument. Thatcher was 100% right in defending them.
The forklands is not ares, we where bang bang out of order twhat we did, it is the argentines land leave them alone
But the people who live there do want to be British, I didn't agree with military action, but i do think that the wishes of the islanders need to be listened to.
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
Couldn't dissagree more. Why do people so look up to little dictators like galtieri and such corrupt regimes? Is this what you wish for?
Was Reagan in some way trying to protect the Argentinian Galtieri regime? Curry favour? Alot has been said here...one thought, any british government that abandond British citizens or territory would not last long. Gibralter etc...may as well roll up and clear out.
The lefties having a go at everything Thatcher should hang their heads in shame. YOU KNOW FULL WELL MICHAEL FOOT AND CO WOULD HAVE LEFT THE ISLANDERS TO ROT UNDER ARGENTINE RULE. HYPOCRITES!!!!
Errr, who was in power at the time?
typical of the yanks not to back us up, even though were always the first to back them! well done to mrs thatcher for defending our realm from invaders. (as should always be the case without acception)
Our "independant" nuclear deterrent didn't deter the Argies, they knew the Yanks wouldn't let us use it.
No, old dog Reagan tried to sweet talk her didnt he, didnt work she had what long gone these days not B.A.L.Ls but MORALS, left to them the Falklanders and the UK would have been losers BIG TIME. Our Land Our people asked pleaded for protection she not Blair not Cameron ensured they got 100% protection , you had to be in that earer to make comments, I worked in the oil business with the Americans and they told me you Brits have made a big mistake, I replied it will be over in a couple of weeks you dont have to get involved. End of Story. should have saved it for my Book.
Lets not be naive the only Special Relationship with the U.S is one way traffic as proved with Blair/Bush on Iraq & Afganistan is that why Blair went straight to the U.S after Hurriedly handed over to buddy Brown get our billions back. Dont be naiva mate on Below) typical of the yanks not to back us up, even though were always the first to back them! well done to mrs thatcher for defending our realm from invaders. (as should always be the case without acception)