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January 01, 2013

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john b

That's not the only recent Economist piece which is both Latin America-focused and of B&T relevance: The Cazique of Poyais.

ajay

Still on the Latin American theme, there is some absolutely demented stuff coming out on the Falklands (30 year rule) - Reagan begging Thatcher not to carry on to Stanley after Goose Green, and Al Haig terrified that "the Argentines could feel compelled to turn to the Cubans and the Soviets as their last hope to avert total humiliation". You know, Cuba and the USSR, those natural allies of a fascist dictatorship that had spent the last few years pushing communists out of helicopters.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fccc5384-4dc8-11e2-a0fc-00144feab49a.html#axzz2GuLH6oSF

Alex

In a telegram on May 25 1982, Mr Haig warned that the war could escalate into an open-ended conflict against Cuba and the Soviet Union, part of the cold war.

“We are fast approaching the point at which the UK will have a decisive local military advantage, with success clearly within your reach,” he wrote. “At that point, which even Argentine self-delusion cannot hide, the Argentines could feel compelled to turn to the Cubans and the Soviets as their last hope to avert total humiliation.”

The 25th (i.e. Argentine National Day) was a very unusual moment to think "success was clearly within your reach" - it was the day they sank Coventry, and Atlantic Conveyor inside the fleet's radar picket screen, with the landing force's helicopter lift, tentage, airfield stores, and much else.

it was the next day, in the light of that, when the decisions to hand over from Navy to Army operational control, to start the move forward early, and to do the attack on Goose Green were taken.

I wonder if Haig was either crazy, trying to threaten the UK, or perhaps basing his judgment on some other source of information - Argentine Air Force after action reports?

Alex

This isn't Falklands, but is interesting. In which Thatcher rips into Reagan to defend, er, Scottish marine engineering workers: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/430b82f4-4db8-11e2-a0fc-00144feab49a.html

Richard J

Is anything showing up re: the whole ditched helicopter in Chile thing, I wonder?

Richard J

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/falklandislands/9158097/The-secret-Falklands-suicide-mission.html

Ahah, this all passed me by last year.

ajay

The 25th (i.e. Argentine National Day) was a very unusual moment to think "success was clearly within your reach"

But Atlantic Conveyor was hit at about 1630 local time on the 25th - and didn't sink until the 28th.
So when Haig made the call, presumably earlier in the day, things looked pretty good.
Not sure when Coventry was sunk, but the task force had already lost three escorts (Sheffield, Ardent, Antelope) by this point - a fourth one wasn't a disaster.

Alex

“You knew you weren’t coming back because there was no tanker plan for the return leg,” says Norfolk.

Phil

That Haig quote should be borne in mind the next time you're reading a well-er-basically piece explaining how long-term imperialist strategy makes perfect rational sense. Not that long-term imperialist strategy doesn't exist - but the people implementing it aren't just flawed human beings, they're quite frequently batshit insane human beings.

ajay

Just reread Woodward's book, and he is absolutely scathing about the SAS, in the context of Mikado and elsewhere.

On Haig's point, he may not have been completely nuts - ISTR reading a story recently that the Soviets had reportedly offered to sink one of the carriers with an SSN and say the Argentinians had done it, and the assumption was that the Soviets had done no such thing but the Argentinians had managed to convince the Americans that they had.

Richard J

Not that long-term imperialist strategy doesn't exist - but the people implementing it aren't just flawed human beings, they're quite frequently batshit insane human beings.

aka every single long-term plan ever.

It occurs to me that if there is one distinguishing feature about the British use of special forces over the years, it's that the regular army likes trying to send them off on one-way suicide missions (e.g. Cherbourg,usw).

ajay

St Nazaire, do you mean?

Richard J

I do indeed. I was also thinking of Zeebrugge in WWI. Not quite sure why I picked a Channel port several hundred miles away...

(Compare and contrast with the French, who quite sensibly seem to have used the Foreign Legion for that sort of thing.)

Phil

Before anyone else thinks of it,

Get up in a crate, Perkins. Pop over to Bremen, take a shufti. Don't come back.

ajay

More like "pop over to Halifax" - the Merchant Navy had the same mortality rate as the Commandos, or so I was told by an old chap who'd thought in 1939 "right, I'm not ending up in the trenches for this one after what my dad went through last time, merchant navy for me" and was rather disappointed.

bert

Not sure what you mean by long-term imperialist strategy, Phil, but much of the weirdness of American reaction to the Falklands came from Cold War considerations in Latin America. Jeane Fitzpatrick was a case study in nuttiness on that score.

In defence of Haig, the Argies were armed by the French. Halfway to Moscow already.

ajay

In defence of Haig, the Argies were armed by the French. Halfway to Moscow already.

And by the Israelis. Who, fascinatingly, in those days, could be described by the US press as "state sponsors of terrorism" (over the Osirak raid) without anyone minding too much. You wouldn't get away with that today.

And, of course, by Britain: Pumas, Type 42s, a proper carrier...

Richard J

Pop-quiz time: Which nation armed Yemeni rebels and supplied military equipment to Khomeini's Iran?

bert

Ooh, I know this one. USA?

Btw, for Fitzpatrick read Kirkpatrick, sorry.

ajay

The USSR (to the NDF via South Yemen in the case of Yemen).

Richard J

Actually, I was thinking of Israel - it's how Iran kept its shah-era Pattons running in the Iran-Iraq War, and there was an understandable reason to keep Nasser busy in Yemen in the late 60s...

ajay

Busy mustard-gassing people, IIRC. Lovely man.

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