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Remembering the Falklands...
School of hard knocks | 05 November 2004 | Ron Pickrell

Posted on 11/05/2004 3:44:14 PM PST by pickrell

We have all watched the response of the Democrats to the elections, and have also yawned as the Blue pundits have solemnly advised the Democratic leadership that they need to look into this religious...values...god...thing. It's like watching a drunk trying to paper clip jello together. Utterly without a clue... There comes a point that further reasoning with the liberal Democrats is like arguing with your answering machine. They can only repeat what they were last programmed to record.

But we perhaps COULD make some progress in winning a few more of our British allies over from the dark side. It has always seemed to me that one of the best tools available has been to explore the past experiences of the persons one hopes to reach.

In 1981, in Argentina, the maximum leader there, General Galtieri, (spelling the name from memory), decided that the best way to divert attention from his mismanagement of the Argentinan economy was to find some small land mass to attack. Since Kuwait was already spoken for by another aspiring maximum leader in Iraq, Argentina instead cast their eyes towards the Malvinas, or the Falklands, as the country that owned them called them.

After a brief propaganda war waged in the press, the island woke up one morning to find the Union Jack removed and the Argentinan flag flying over the Port Stanley airport. The British were beside themselves. There was no doubt in the mind of Margaret Thatcher that this would not stand. And when Margaret Thatcher made her mind up, the "Guardian" could count on unlimited opportunities to saturate the newsstands with defeatism. The average Brit probably compared the cost of the magazine to the price of a 4-pack of Charmin, and made their individual decisions accordingly.

It didn't take much to explain to the average Brit that allowing dictators to seize a small undefended territory was not a matter of nuance and sophistication. Oh, some might point to the small British garrison there and argue about the provocation of keeping "imperialistic" forces close to the sovereign country of Argentina, and how this small island was a long disputed bit of territory anyway. Of course, Britain stopped demanding reparations from the Romans millenia ago, and assumed that the same held for all old grievances.

One might also acknowledge that the few sheep herders on the isolated island would forever lose their way of life if the Brits moved to reverse what rather seemed to the "un-nuanced", unsophisticated American citizen as a nearby bully seizing a British possession in a naked grab of territory.

We in the U.S. faced a dilemna, in that both of the countries involved in the dispute were our allies, and that the Argentinians lived on our side of the pond. But after a period of evaluation, Ronald Reagan declared for the Brits and began sharing our satellite data, and other yet-classified items, with them. The Brits were estatic, and several rational news outlets over there printed the famous "Yanks a million!" headlines.

Back then, we understood that when an ally of ours, like Great Britain always has been, is forced into denying a reward to the naked agression of dictators, we had to stand in firm and unwavering support of that ally. Australia also thereby knew that if the territorial ambitions of China extended their way, that we would spill blood if necessary in support of the inscrutable Aussies as well. All over Asia, breath was slowly let out. The Anglos and the Yanks apparently meant what they said, even when the going got "wet".

It's amazing how a U.S. President can ease the minds of nervous allies by simply showing a bit of spine. For Democrats, we have developed the new strap-on collapsible artificial vertebra for when needed. It is apparently pulled out for elections only, so far.

Putting U.S. troops in would have resulted in disaster, and was never even considered by any side, but the psychological and logistically support, such as our making refueling facilities available on Ascension Island to their Vulcan bombers, was never in doubt. Because that is how you take the back of an ally. You stand fast so that he can keep his eyes forward on the coming conflict. And we took Britain's back without flinching. Denying what we knew about a few bomb arming problems that the Argentinian Air Force would run into was another way to back up our committment.

Unlike the French and the Germans, we never considered making money by assisting an enemy against an ally in a time of conflict. And no one can really appreciate the seriousness of sorting out allies until they are faced with the problem.

But then, we've never been the good businessmen that the Europeans are. It's a matter of looking yourselves in the mirror next morning.

When the Brits took heavy losses, and finally came face to face with the reality of fielding "one-hit" warships 10,000 miles from the nearest repair dock, the U.S. newspapers never posted an endless series of "Falklands quagmire!" articles. When the Welsh Guards suffered a direct hit on a landing craft and suffered horrible casualties, we didn't drone on in our media about it being the wrong war at the wrong time.

And it seems to me, though it was so long ago, that I can still remember the wide condemnation of the "...powerful Great Britain beating up on the third world Argentina...", in the world's presses.

Oddly, though, I can't remember which U.S. newspapers declared shock over the fact that millions of stupid British subjects had elected a Prime Minister who was a moron. Perhaps that is because there weren't any; also perhaps because the conflict ended before our liberals here could find their crayon and begin to decry "Allied Aggression!".

One of their critical transports, the "Atlantic Conveyor" I believe it was, took a French Exocet missile hit and sank carrying nearly all of the U.S. manufactured CH-53 heavy lift helicopters. Somehow their SAS, who learned that you don't sit and cry about having "insufficient resources for the job", instead got on with the job, and in a campaign laced with the kind of British tenacity and heroism by unit leaders that should be forever enshrined in the halls of British manhood, defeated the occupying forces and returned the island to the British Empire.

For those who think it a walk in the park, land yourself on that island in a winter storm, carrying an 80 pound kit, and march across the permafrost & peat. It's easy to minimize the accomplishments of great men once the bullets have safely stopped.

It was easy for the British citizen to understand then. They realized that this tiny island was a test of the resolve of the British Empire to stand behind their guarantees of freedom from assault by thugs. They realized that this little island was being watched by those forces who observed the spine of the Brits. They also feared that some of the other "allies"...could be made to see "green reason". The French, the Russians and perhaps the Germans could be observed to perhaps be open to dealing. Money talks when despicable people listen.

But it closes its ears quickly when the U.S. quietly assures the world how unhappy it would be if any more Exocet missiles somehow "found" their way into Argentina. When a U.S. president is forced to show his teeth, and is believed to be enough of an ignorant cowboy to mean just exactly what he says, he can enforce U.S. support for our allies...from our "other allies". When a Lady Thatcher also fixes her stare, knees buckle and nasty little deals go unfulfilled. Count on it.

Galtieri underestimated the resolve of the British at that point. He, and the rest of the world simply could not believe that the British would risk more casualties in their invasion forces than the entire small population that they were acting to rescue. And if they were then seemingly forever committed afterwards to heavily garrisoning that small island against any future invasion, that the cost would be more than the British people would bear. It was as silly as believing that little Iraqi children belonged in their beds, instead of in mass graves. It was...unsophisticated.

It's amazing what the British people understood...back then.

They paid a heavy price. But though a number of British aircraft and crews were lost, their Sea-Harriers slaughtered what French-made Argentinian fighters that they caught up with, using American made AIM-16L Sidewinder missiles, (I believe the designation was). Tremendously audacious former-race-car-drivers piloting Buenos-Aires' best fighters ran into the gritty professionals of the British Navy and Air Forces.

It should have been more of a contest than it was. Credit part of the victory to intelligent placement of early-warning, aircraft-tracking submarines...and credit part of it to iron military men who didn't feel the nipping of the hand wringers at their heels.

Again, it's amazing what the British people understood...back then.

Perhaps we can redetermine as allies what we feel is worth fighting for, to preclude terrible losses in the future. Perhaps we may agree to guarantee to the world that we will pay any price...and bear any burden. Even if there is no apparent smoking gun threat to our homelands. Because we do need the military and civilian support of the British, the Ausralians, the Poles, and the others who have shed blood to avert worldwide religious warfare. They help keep our knees from "going wobbly", as Maggie warned.

Because there was no threat to us in the U.S. when Japan invaded Manchuria in the early 1930's.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: allies; campaign; falklands; malvinas

1 posted on 11/05/2004 3:44:17 PM PST by pickrell
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To: pickrell

Outstanding post!! Please continue;I enjoyed this juxtopositioning of the circ-1981 British with the 2004 weaklings that have apparently taken over the driver's seat.Blair(in other areas)was/is no conservative or libertarian,yet HE got it and understood intinctively the concept of "do the right thing"(pun intended),he knew that appeasing murderous bastards such as Saddam or the mad mullahs would yield somebitter would (almost)make the populace look back fondly at the quaint activites of the PIRA active service units with some nostalgia.

2 posted on 11/05/2004 3:59:33 PM PST by gripper ("Does this mean we can hit back ,now?")
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To: pickrell

As it is Sabbath, I shall take time to contemplate the ethical and moral decisions made by a lady respectfully dubber "Atilla the Hen" by my career military friends.

3 posted on 11/05/2004 4:36:09 PM PST by GladesGuru
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To: pickrell
We must not forget the role played by France.

When the war started, France had a tech rep team in Argentina to assist the Argies to bring into service the Super Entendard and its Exocet missile.

France was technically an ally of Britain and as such it complie with an arms embargo. But the tech rep team remained and continued to assist the Argies on the Entendard and the Exocet, without which help the Argies could not have sunk HMS Sheffield (D80, type 42 destroyer).

Sheffield took the hit effectively MOT with a 90 track. It is significant to note that carrier HMS Invincible (RO5, ASW Command carrier) was in a direct projected line of the incoming missile's track which would have been a good payback for the sinking of Belgrano the previous day.

4 posted on 11/05/2004 4:42:09 PM PST by Clive
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To: pickrell

It was the AIM9 Sidewinder that we gave them. But we all know what you meant and it's right.

There are other occasions where we helped them as well. Though some of their media is very left and being anti-American is very “hip” in the MTV watching self proclaimed intellectual European crowd; the real elite of the country does know who friend and foe are. People like Blair are under no illusion about “who” the threat is and “who” the allied are in this war.

It takes courage to do what Blair did. His political opponents will seize the opportunity and capitalize on the anti-American and anti-war, anti-establishment subgroups within the nation. The media has damaged Blair badly and they managed to take someone who made the hard and right choices into a “stooge” and “American puppet”. It’s a 180 degree turn from reality since appeasement was the alternative. But this is not the perception of many British from my point of view.


5 posted on 11/05/2004 4:54:11 PM PST by Red6
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To: GladesGuru
A couple of memorable quotes by Dame Thatcher:

To Bush the elder: "Look George, this is no time to go wobbly. We can't fall at the first fence."

About Canada's Brian Mulroney: "As leader of the Progressive Conservatives I thought he put too much emphasis on the adjective and not enough on the noun."

6 posted on 11/05/2004 4:59:26 PM PST by Clive
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To: Clive

France is within NATO the nation that practices the LEAST self restraint when it comes to arms deals. People think we're bad! We angels compared to them. They'll sell nearly anything to anyone who can pay.

1. They try to have a modern high tech military but do not want to collaborate with others and retain complete production within national boarders. They have a MUCH smaller military than the US and "economy of scale" is not there. They produce in small volumes and hope that through exports they can make up for some of the costs.

2. They consider themselves a world power but are a regional power. Within Europe they "theoretically" can project force. On a global scale they are a joke. Because their presence is very limited and they are not involved in certain areas they are willing to sell things that could be a security problem for us. They have no body in S. Korea along the DMZ. If they sell weapons that might somehow end up being used against us they really would not care in many cases. Example Iraq, where Roland air defense missiles where found that had been delivered in 2003 (Date still stamped on them).

3. The French are less scrutinized and less observed than the US. When one US soldier lands in Somalia the TV cameras are emplaced before he lands. The French can do a lot and no body cares or watches them. If they blow up a Green Peace ship and kill someone "Oh well". They will be forgiven quickly. If they do some surface nuke tests on occupied Pacific Islands, no one 7 years later will even remember. But mention Nicaragua! The whole world will know. Being a superpower gives you special attention on the international stage.

4. The French have a strong sense of national pride as in the US, but do NOT have a real free press and media as is the case in the US. It's much easier for their government to shape the tone and spin of what their people see and hear. Their Roland missiles in Iraq were hardly a story in France.

All this makes them or allows them to be shady. Within NATO they are probably number one in poor decision making as to whom they’ll sell to and what their willing to sell.


7 posted on 11/05/2004 5:17:11 PM PST by Red6
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To: All

It is instructive to see the well thought out replies of the average Freeper, and contrast that to the foaming rage of the left sites today.

I know where home is...

[ But if it's not the AIM-16L...does this mean that our G.I.'s are NOT using the famous M-9 rifle? Scramble my brain, I guess! Thanks for the data correction...]

8 posted on 11/05/2004 6:29:00 PM PST by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

Excellent post.

PS: Ascension Island is under the sovereignty of the British Crown.

9 posted on 11/17/2004 10:18:35 AM PST by Flashman_at_the_charge (A proud member of the self-preservation society)
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