Blue Skies in Camelot (Continued): An Alternate 80s and Beyond

Mr. @President_Lincoln, what would the reaction of Former President JFK to his younger brother, President RFK on how he handled both domestic and foreign situations in his first year in office ITTL?
I still have a question that you haven't answered yet Mr. President, would you be able give this a response?
Thank you for making these, @Uniquely Genius! :D I think they look great. :) I can't promise I'll be able to work them all in. But I'll use them where I can.
You're welcome Mr. @President_Lincoln! You better use them all in the next chapter updates genius! Have a wonderful day!
Please note that there is a THREE IMAGE, per THREAD, per DAY posting limit.
Thank you for the reminder. Apologies.
I didn't know there was a limit in posting images here? I'm just doing Mr. President's favor here to know what would be his response? Thanks for the reminder genius!


Monthly Donor
I didn't know there was a limit in posting images here? I'm just doing Mr. President's favor here to know what would be his response? Thanks for the reminder genius!

It's more of uploading images to this site than posting images hosted on different websites (e.g. Imgur), but it might be a case of semantics more than anything else.
Maybe after being President Bobby decided to grow his hair out🤣

Similar to LBJ?
Never seen that picture! Damn LBJ really let his hair down 😂
Yeah. I was reading a book on Presidential second acts (what they did after leaving office) and it theorized that he may have done it in a sub-conscious attempt to finally curry favor with the student protesters who made his second term a living hell.
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I still have a question that you haven't answered yet Mr. President, would you be able give this a response?

You're welcome Mr. @President_Lincoln! You better use them all in the next chapter updates genius! Have a wonderful day!

I didn't know there was a limit in posting images here? I'm just doing Mr. President's favor here to know what would be his response? Thanks for the reminder genius!
JFK has been wholly supportive of Bobby's efforts thus far as President. He is also a avoiding the public spotlight. The 1980 campaign will probably be the last time that he makes many public appearances. As he nears the end of his life, Jack is focusing on spending as much time as he can with Jackie and their children.

View attachment 902763View attachment 902764View attachment 902765
Well, in light of that, I did make three pictures of President Bobby Kennedy having aged a few years
Excellent work! Thanks for the pics.
Chapter 156 - Breakin’ the Law: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1982
Above: A pair of NYPD officers ride the subway in the early 1980s, by that time, crime in New York City was said to have reached “epidemic proportions” (left); Scruff McGruff the Crime Dog, an anthropomorphic animated bloodhound created by Jack Keil (who also voiced the character) through the Ad Council and later the National Crime Prevention Council to increase crime awareness and personal safety in the United States (right).

“There I was completely wasting, out of work and down
All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
So I might as well begin to put some action in my life
You know what it's called
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
” - “Breakin’ the Law” by Judas Priest

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists upon.” - Robert F. Kennedy

Heading into 1982 - his second year in office - President Robert Kennedy knew that he needed to choose another area to focus on with his major legislative push for the year.

The so-called “Long-Ullman Tax Cut”, Kennedy’s major achievement from the year prior, had delivered on two of his key campaign pledges: turning the budget deficit into a surplus (and in so doing, refilling Congress’ “rainy day fund”); and giving the vast majority of Americans tax relief in order to stimulate the economy.
This had its intended effect.

In addition to easing the financial burden on working and middle class families, these tax cuts, when combined with lowered interest rates by the Federal Reserve, caused aggregate demand to explode at the tail end of 1981 and into the first quarter of 1982. By year’s end, real GDP growth was as high as 5%. The economy, at long last, was leaving behind the doldrums of the “Seesaw Seventies” and roaring back to life.

Democrats, especially the president and his advisors, were eager to take credit for “slaying stagflation” and returning the nation to prosperity. The truth, of course, is more complex and nuanced than this. The efforts of the Bush and Udall administrations to bring inflation to heel were clearly prerequisites for economic success under President Kennedy. But politically, the sunny economic forecasts were great for the administration, especially heading into a midterm election year.

The midterms. Bobby Kennedy thought to himself, as Jack had twenty years prior. It’s already all about the midterms.

Even as he enjoyed approval ratings hovering around the 58% mark thanks to the success of his tax reform bill, the president understood all too well the “what have you done for me lately?” nature of American politics.

For the next task on his agenda, he needed to find an issue which: A, reflected another of his major campaign pledges; B, could make some meaningful difference in the lives of the American public; and C, ideally gave his fellow Democrats something substantial to run on come November. The administration held a series of policy meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill after New Year’s. At these meetings, one issue seemed to come up again and again: crime.

President Kennedy had largely built his own reputation as a crusader against corruption and especially organized crime while working as a counsel for the US Senate in the 1950s.

Beginning at the tail end of his brother’s administration, and really ramping up throughout the 1970s, the national crime rate in the United States more than quadrupled. Especially concerning to the public was the rate of violent crime, which had also risen within the same timeframe. This trend was even reflected in the fact that, beginning with Jack Kennedy, every American president had suffered at least one serious assassination attempt (whether as a candidate or once elected president). Bob Kennedy was no exception. He still carried the bullet fired at him by his would-be assassin, Mark Chapman, and walked with a cane from the subsequent nerve damage.

The causes for this so-called “crime epidemic” were myriad.

First among them were socioeconomic factors.

The 1970s were, as has been covered exhaustively within this chronicle, hard times economically. Wages stagnated while prices shot up. Unemployment rose, increasing rates of poverty and homelessness along with it. For many living in poverty, crime was not necessarily a conscious choice, but rather a means to the end of mere survival.

After decades of “white flight” to the suburbs, many major metropolitan areas lost much of their tax base and subsequently experienced sudden and severe urban decay. As cities struggled to maintain their solvency (most dramatically seen in New York), more municipal and local workers were laid off or had their wages or hours reduced, further exacerbating economic tensions. Rates of mental illness were also high during this period, probably correlated to (if not outright caused by) the aforementioned economic downturn.

On a more sociocultural level, there were other issues.

High divorce rates and a general deficiency of family planning resources resulted in many broken homes across the country. Though expanding Medicare as a public option to cover all Americans who needed health insurance did ameliorate some of the burden on families, both in terms of providing healthcare coverage and access to contraceptives, their use did not become immediately widespread. Teen pregnancy rates were also high during this period, resulting in some parents who were unready to raise children. The social stigma associated with such situations also alienated these young parents and resulted in many not seeking help or assistance, whether from available government programs, or from private charities, or in some cases, even family, friends, and other loved ones.

Conservative pundits also pointed out a breakdown in “American values” such as hard work, individual initiative, and personal responsibility, as possible causes for the crime epidemic, though this argument is difficult to prove due to a lack of quantifiable data.

Also deeply interconnected with the crime epidemic was the so-called “War on Drugs”.

Above: A U.S. government PSA from the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration with a photo image of two marijuana cigarettes (“joints”) and a “Just Say No” slogan (left); the seal for the Drug Enforcement Administration (right).

First launched by the Romney administration in 1970, then massively expanded with the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1973 by President Bush, the “War on Drugs” contributed heavily to the national crime rate by making actions that millions of Americans performed every year explicitly illegal.

The best analogy for this effect is probably what resulted from the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which forbade the consumption, manufacture, and sale of almost all alcoholic beverages in the United States - “Prohibition” - until its repeal with the 21st Amendment in 1933. Though Prohibition did initially succeed in its goal of reducing drinking in the US, by as early as 1922, drinking was once again on the rise. Had Prohibition not been repealed, it is likely that rates of American drinking would still have surpassed pre-Prohibition levels by 1933. Prohibition was thus roundly condemned as a massive failure and few mourned its loss. But to some extent, this can perhaps be explained by alcohol’s status as a socially acceptable drug, as opposed to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics.

By the time of President Robert Kennedy’s inauguration in 1981, as many as 90% of all crimes committed in the United States were drug-related, up from just under half during his brother’s time in office. Though statistics show a small increase in drug use during the intervening decade, that small increase did not and could not explain the massive increase in arrests and incarcerated persons related to drug offenses.

Clearly, just as Prohibition had in the 1920s, the War on Drugs was turning everyday, non-violent Americans into criminals, simply as a matter of course. If crime was going to be brought to heel, then so too did the federal government need to review its drug policies.

To that end, two competing philosophies emerged.

The first was the “traditional” method of combating drug use: criminal prohibition and law enforcement. Advocates for this school of thought (mostly conservatives and “law and order” types) advocated “tougher” policies to “revitalize” the War on Drugs. They wanted: mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, dealers, and anyone involved with the drug trade; so-called “three strikes” policies for drug offenders; and more resources to be allocated for hiring more police officers and better arming and equipping law enforcement to combat gangs and cartels.

Critics of this line of thought (including the president and his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy) argued that this “revitalization” really amounted to an “escalation”. They felt that such methods would fail to address the root cause of drug use and abuse in the first place: addiction. If the government’s primary concern with its drug policy was punishing drug users, without treating their addiction, then recidivism rates would remain high (not to mention, keep non-violent offenders locked up for life sentences). Furthermore, these “tough” drug policies would (and where they existed, already did) unfairly and disproportionately target historically disenfranchised minority groups and communities of color. The Kennedys understood all too well how drug laws could be weaponized, even when that was not a policy’s intention.

“They’ve declared war on a noun.” Bobby privately told Ethel back in 1970. “That never ends well.”

The other method of combating drug use then emerged from the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s, powered by a suite of studies conducted at Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious universities and centers of learning. Known as “harm reduction”, this philosophy favored healing what it saw as the root cause of drug use and abuse - addiction itself. Rather than think of drug abusers as criminals who needed to be punished, this method favored treating them as patients, sick with a disease, who needed to be treated and rehabilitated. These were many of the same academics who had successfully lobbied the Kennedy administration the year prior to create “needle exchange sites” in order to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS from infected needles.

In pilot programs in cities and states across the country, municipalities who enacted harm reduction policies saw drops in their rates of drug addiction and recidivism by as much as 75%. Proponents of this philosophy also favored a more nuanced view on drug education, teaching “responsible drug use”, rather than treating marijuana and other drugs as some sort of inherent evil, a boogeyman to be avoided at all costs.

Advocates for both schools of thought worked within the Kennedy administration, splitting opinion on the subject. The president himself was of two minds about the issue. There were also legitimate concerns about “outdated” statutes relating to hate crimes, sexual crimes, and gang-related crime. All of these needed to be addressed if the country was going to get back on the right foot when it came to law and order.

Above: Attorney General Charlie Rangel, chairman of President Kennedy’s 1982 fact-finding commission on crime in the United States (left); seal of the National Association of Chiefs of Police (right).

In order to resolve these inconsistencies and create the most effective bill to address as many of them as possible, President Kennedy formed a fact-finding commission to make a recommendation to Congress. This commission, chaired by Attorney General Charlie Rangel, himself a noted crusader against drugs in his native Harlem and previously in the halls of Congress, worked with the 135,000 member National Association of Police Officers, and scientists at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to craft their suggestions.

Kennedy hoped that his eventual proposal could be, in his words, “tough, but fair”.

In choosing Rangel to chair the commission, however, the president empowered a man who had been, in the words of Ebony magazine, “a front-line general in the war on drugs”. Rangel was quoted in that article about him as saying that, when it came to drug policy in America, “we need outrage!” This was making reference to the slow reaction by both government and religious leaders to the epidemics of crack cocaine, heroin, PCP, and other drugs that hit American streets during the 1970s and 80s. Rangel also believed that attempts to legalize drugs would represent “moral and political suicide”. He did not refrain from criticizing those most affected by drugs, saying that Hispanic and black teenagers had no sense of self-preservation, and that drug dealers were “so stupid they had to eat in fast-food places because they could not read a menu.”

Rangel and his fellow “warriors” criticized what they saw as “timidity” or even “cowardice” on the part of commissioners who favored “harm reduction” over “escalation”. They felt that to shift federal drug policy away from the fight would be tantamount to “surrender”. There are few words more anathema to American cultural identity than “surrender”.

Meanwhile, the “harm reducers”: scientists and academics led by the president’s own brother, Ted, fired back, calling Rangel’s preferred policies “draconian” and in some cases “possibly unconstitutional”. Though both sides supported additional funding for drug prevention and treatment, they disagreed strongly on where and how the money should be spent: law enforcement or medical care.

As the weeks dragged on, word leaked to the press that little to no common ground was being found between the two camps. The Washington Post featured a political cartoon showing Ted Kennedy and Charlie Rangel in a boxing ring labeled “federal drug policy”, with the president sitting at the side as a ring-judge. The ongoing and rapidly escalating culture war made crime a major issue, with conservatives accusing Kennedy and his fellow liberals of “not doing what is necessary to protect the American people”.

Eventually, the president sensed that what should have been an easy, bipartisan victory going into the midterms seemed to be slipping through his fingers; he called for an end to the bickering. He personally intervened to break the stalemate within the commission. With the president personally overseeing the planning sessions, and ensuring that all voices were heard, he helped orchestrate a compromise that left no one fully satisfied, but which would be much more likely to pass both the House and the Senate than either camp’s preferred version.

The compromise version of the bill, which eventually made its way through Congress included:

  • The Violence Against Women Act - allocating $1.6 billion to help prevent and investigate violence against women, setting increased federal penalties for repeat sex offenders and requiring mandatory restitution for the medical and legal costs of sex crimes, and increasing federal grants for battered women's shelters, creating a National Domestic Violence Hotline, and requiring restraining orders of one state to be enforced by the other states.

  • The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act - introduced by Representative Jim Moran (D - VA) after an increase in opponents of abortion rights using public driving license databases to track down and harass abortion providers and patients, most notably by both besieging one woman’s home for a month and following her daughter to school.

  • Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act - established guidelines for states to track sex offenders. States were also required to track sex offenders by confirming their place of residence annually for ten years after their release into the community or quarterly for the rest of their lives if the sex offender was convicted of a violent sex crime.

  • The Community Oriented Policing Services Act - Earmarked more than $1 billion per year in assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies to help hire community policing officers. The COPS Office also funds the research and development of guides, tools and training, and provides technical assistance to police departments implementing community policing principles. The law authorized the COPS Office to hire 100,000 more police officers to patrol the nation's streets, and set guidelines that officers should reside in the communities in which they policed.

  • The Money Laundering Control Act - criminalized money laundering for the first time in the United States. This would be used, both Rangel and President Kennedy argued, to tamp down on large-scale criminal activity.

  • The Arthur McDuffie Police Violence Prevention Act - Named for a Black insurance salesman and United States Marine Corps lance corporal who was beaten to death by four police officers after a traffic stop, resulting in the 1980 Miami Riots. The act promoted training in de-escalation techniques, strongly encouraged law enforcement to minimize targeting people of lower socioeconomic status, and earmarked money to invest in crisis intervention teams and to hire mental health professionals (including FBI-trained negotiators) for state and local law enforcement.

  • The People Over Profits Act - abolished the use of for-profit (private) prisons for federal crimes and encouraged the states to follow suit. It also earmarked additional funding for rehabilitation programs, including felon higher-education programs.
Finally, and perhaps most consequentially, the act authorized billions of dollars of new federal spending. Though some would go toward bolstering the ATF, FBI, DEA, and other law enforcement agencies (much to the delight of Rangel and his fellow “warriors”), the lion’s share of this funding would be used to increase the substance abuse treatment federal block grant program. The terms “drug use” and “drug abuse” (which implied conscious choice on the part of the user) were replaced with the Kennedy brothers’ preferred phrase: “diseases of addiction”.

Other programs funded by the act included drug counseling and education programs, AIDS research, facilities for mental health treatment, social work and family counseling/planning, and international cooperation to limit drug production.

The act also included the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, which required public schools and colleges to establish education and prevention programs to combat diseases of addiction. Rejected from the final version of the bill were concepts such as mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes” policies for repeat offenders.

Though conservatives attempted to add a rider making membership in a gang explicitly illegal, liberals in both parties balked on constitutional grounds. They felt that such a law would threaten the First Amendment right to free association. Distinctions between sentencing for crack versus powdered cocaine, for instance, were also left out, as many felt that these provisions would disproportionately target black and brown communities.

Above: President Robert F. Kennedy delivers a speech, calling on all members of Congress to support the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1982, introduced on behalf of the administration.

The final version of the bill that made it through reconciliation was thus, an imperfect compromise between the two camps (“anti-drug warriors” and “harm reducers”). While the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1982 would not please everyone, it did seem to go a long way toward tackling the problems posed by crime and drug addiction in America. Though it initially faced stiff resistance from conservatives in both parties, Kennedy called the bill a “just” act, rather than a “vindictive” one.

In selling his bill to Congress and the American public, Kennedy praised the “noble intentions” of his predecessors’ efforts in the war on drugs, but pointed to high recidivism rates and continued drug addiction and still-rising crime as evidence of their “failure to address the roots of the problem”.

“The end of our justice system must not be purely punitive, but also restorative.” the president declared. “We must heal and reform, not simply punish and lock away.”

After months of discussion and debate, and with a majority of the public supportive of at least most of what the act contained, the bill was introduced to the House of Representatives by Jim Wright (D - TX) on August 9th, 1982. It would pass the House eleven days later (352 - 56) and the Senate on the 30th (77 - 22). After making its way through reconciliation, the bill crossed President Kennedy’s desk on September 3rd. He signed it, marking his second major legislative accomplishment since taking office.

Though virtually all Democrats and even most Republicans ultimately voted in favor of the “1982 Crime Bill” as it came to be known, some conservatives were especially vocal in their opposition to it.

“This is a pretty watered down bill.” Senator Jesse Helms (R - NC) loudly complained on C-SPAN during debate in the Senate. “If we want to show criminals that crime doesn’t pay, I think we can do a heck of a lot better than three-hundred and fifty pages of half-measures and political correctness”. This last phrase referred to the administration’s insistence on shifting “drug use” to “diseases of addiction”.

Above: Senator Jesse Helms (R - NC), one of the chief opponents of the 1982 Comprehensive Crime Control Act, and something of a nemesis to President Kennedy. Strengthening his conservative bonafides, he argued that the bill did not go far enough toward discouraging criminals.

The act would have numerous positive effects on American society: crime rates peaked in early 1983 before dropping precipitously, a trend that continues up to the present day; rates of drug addiction likewise fell to pre-1960s levels; and Americans’ feelings of safety increased, with more officers on the streets and efforts toward community policing bolstering a sense of shared security. Urban centers in particular began to recover, bringing back economic opportunity and a renewed hope for the future in the nation’s cities.

The act also had negative consequences.

For one thing, it failed to rectify racial and class-based inequalities in the justice system. On the front of police brutality, it did not issue a ban on chokeholds, strangleholds, and other potentially deadly maneuvers. Nor did it challenge or even reexamine the policy of “qualified immunity” - legal protection for the police for most actions undertaken in the name of enforcing the law. Though the Crime bill “deemphasized” the war on drugs, shifting the federal government’s focus toward combating diseases of addiction with healthcare and treatment instead, it did not end the war on drugs.

Despite his reservations about the “extent” to which some hardcore warriors, like Rangel, were willing to go in the name of fighting drugs on America’s streets, President Kennedy (and Congress) lacked the political will to fly in the face of public opinion, which overwhelmingly favored the war’s continuation.

The political headwinds of the country were finally beginning to shift. The president and his allies could feel it. Conservatism, long dormant and thought defeated by the forces of social liberalism, began the long, slow process of awakening from its torpor. It would take several more years for the right to truly regain its confidence after Ronald Reagan’s defeat in the 1980 election. But it was beginning to stir.

Politically, the bill was an overall win for the administration.

According to a Gallup poll conducted after President Kennedy signed it into law, just over 65% of those polled said that they “approved” or “strongly approved” of its passage. A slim majority - 56% - answered in the affirmative when asked if they considered the president to be adequately “tough on crime”. The hope of both the president and Chief of Staff (and primary political advisor) Ken O’Donnell was that that descriptor would rub off on congressional Democrats in what were sure to be contentious midterm elections.

Above: White House Chief of Staff Ken O’Donnell (left); Senator Joe Biden (D - DE), a key Kennedy ally and one of the chief authors of the “1982 Crime Bill” (right).

Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Two Bald Men Fight Over a Comb
I've been quite busy these past few days :(, but finally I've got the time to review the latest update, and I must say, it's quite splendid as always :). The process of drafting and passing the RFK administration crime bill showed that despite the triumph of liberalism over conservatism in the 1980s (a critical decade that will shape modern America as it will be known in the 21st century), it is not without hurdles. Conservatism, despite being wounded, is licking its wounds and is eager to regain its footing in the political arena. Bob Kennedy must choose his battles wisely if he wants to keep or even increase the Democrats's majority in Congress. At the very least, he could count on a strong economy and strong foreign policy (fighting or containing the Commies wherever and whenever they are) as plus points.
I've been quite busy these past few days :(, but finally I've got the time to review the latest update, and I must say, it's quite splendid as always :). The process of drafting and passing the RFK administration crime bill showed that despite the triumph of liberalism over conservatism in the 1980s (a critical decade that will shape modern America as it will be known in the 21st century), it is not without hurdles. Conservatism, despite being wounded, is licking its wounds and is eager to regain its footing in the political arena. Bob Kennedy must choose his battles wisely if he wants to keep or even increase the Democrats's majority in Congress. At the very least, he could count on a strong economy and strong foreign policy (fighting or containing the Commies wherever and whenever they are) as plus points.
Thank you! :) Glad you enjoyed. My goal with Bobby Kennedy's presidency (and really, the TL as a whole) is to show a more hopeful (and yes, more liberal) America, but still within the bounds of realism.
1. Yes he did succeed Tito after the latter's death in 1980. I don't think Koliševski would have had significant impact on the '74 constitution or on economic policy before he came to power, but he is presently focused on trying to find the right balance between central control and autonomy that might allow Yugoslavia to survive the coming climax of the Cold War. As for the Kosovo protests... From what I've read, the main demand of the protesters was for Kosovo to become a republic within Yugoslavia, as opposed to just a province of Serbia. I believe that had Koliševski agreed to this, it would have angered Serbia. Thoughts?
Kosovo's independence will really anger the Serbs and perhaps lead to a quicker rise to power of a Milosevich-like figure. The problem for Yugoslavia was the economy, and Kolisevski's rise would have been more or less meaningless if, as in the OTL, the presidency only lasted a year.

Nonetheless, I'm still interested to see where it all goes
Kosovo's independence will really anger the Serbs and perhaps lead to a quicker rise to power of a Milosevich-like figure. The problem for Yugoslavia was the economy, and Kolisevski's rise would have been more or less meaningless if, as in the OTL, the presidency only lasted a year.

Nonetheless, I'm still interested to see where it all goes
I see. Is there any action that Kolisevski could have taken instead that would be more likely to lead to long term stability?
Hey @President_Lincoln for the closer to home thread the character that I created for that I plan on having him serve in Cambodia and I was wondering would you see it as inappropriate if I had him become like a very highly decorated service member? like I'm not thinking of having him be awarded the medal of honor but I just feel like I want to take it a point where his actions get noticed by the higher ups and some of the public.
I'll be sure to take a look when I get a chance. :) Thank you.

Also, a request to anyone with the means and/or interest... Would anyone be willing to try their hand at making some more "aged up" photos of RFK in the 1980s here? I loved the ones that were posted before and would love to use more if I can.
Here are my attempts at making several "aged up" photos of RFK in the 1980s. It isn't much, but i hope you like em @President_Lincoln :) :


Leonardo_Diffusion_XL_54_years_old_Robert_F_Kennedy_as_Preside_1 (1)-1.jpg

Leonardo_Diffusion_XL_54_years_old_Robert_F_Kennedy_as_Preside_2 (1)-1.jpg
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Chapter 157
Chapter 157 - Don’t You Want Me?: The Falklands Crisis of 1982
Above: Leopoldo Galtieri, President de facto of Argentina (left); map of the Falkland Islands (center); Denis Healey, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (right).

“Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me
Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me
It's much too late to find
When you think you've changed your mind
You'd better change it back or we will both be sorry
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!”
- “Don’t You Want Me?” by the Human League

“The Falklands thing was a fight between two bald men over a comb.” - Jorge Luis Borges

In 1965, the United Nations called upon Argentina and the United Kingdom to reach a settlement of the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands - an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf.

The principal islands are about 480 kilometers east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about 1,210 km from Cape Dubouzet at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago, with an area of 12,000 square kilometers, comprises East Falkland, West Falkland, and 776 smaller islands. As a British overseas territory, the Falklands have internal self-governance, but the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defense and foreign affairs. The capital and largest settlement is Stanley on East Falkland.

In the mid 1960s, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regarded the islands as a nuisance and barrier to UK trade with South America. Therefore, while confident of British sovereignty, the FCO was initially prepared to cede the islands to Argentina. When news of a proposed transfer broke in 1968 however, the British citizens living on the islands reacted with disbelief and fury. They, on the whole, did not want to be transferred.

Back in Westminster, elements sympathetic with the plight of the islanders were able to organize an effective parliamentary lobby to frustrate the FCO’s plans. Negotiations continued, but in general failed to make meaningful progress; the islanders steadfastly refused to consider Argentine sovereignty on one side, whilst Argentina would not compromise over sovereignty on the other. The FCO then sought to make the islands dependent on Argentina, hoping this would make the islanders more amenable to Argentine sovereignty. Despite these efforts, however, Islander resistance persisted.

In 1977, then-British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, in response to heightened tensions in the region and the Argentine occupation of Southern Thule, secretly sent a force of two frigates and a nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Dreadnought, to the South Atlantic, codenamed Operation Apprentice. It is unclear whether the Argentine government was aware of their presence, but British sources state that they were advised of it through informal channels. Nevertheless, talks with Buenos Aires on Falklands sovereignty and economic cooperation opened in December of that year proved inconclusive.

The following year, with the Labour Party under Denis Healey swept back into power, the new PM made the decision to stop pressuring the islanders. “If they want to remain British,” Healey told his cabinet. “Then by all means, let them be British”.

Meanwhile, the other nation involved in the dispute - Argentina - had been in the midst of devastating economic stagnation and large-scale civil unrest against the National Reorganization Process, the military junta that had governed the country since 1976. Backed by the Bush Administration as part of Operation Condor, the Argentine junta held an abominable human rights record and was deeply unpopular with the populace of the country. A further shake up occurred at the tail end of 1981, when a new junta came to power, headed by General Leopoldo Galtieri as Acting President, supported by Air Brigadier Basilio Lami Dozo and Admiral Jorge Anaya. Of these men, Admiral Anaya was the most hawkish on the Falklands Issue. Indeed, he was supremely confident that, should the Argentines employ military force to seize the islands, “then the British will not intervene”.

Above: Second “March of Resistance” held on December 9th - 10th, 1982. The flag reads "Let the 30,000 who disappeared show up alive” (desaparecidos in Spanish); this event was organized by the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”, a human rights organization dedicated to protesting the military junta.

Admiral Amaya began to bend Acting President Galtieri’s ear toward military intervention in the Falklands. Through a (largely performative and ceremonial) invasion, Argentina could seize new territory, and punch a “fading” Great Power in the nose without having to worry about any potential repercussions. This could, Amaya argued, distract public attention in Argentina away from the country’s chronic economic depression and the ongoing human rights violations of the “Dirty War”. If successful, defeating and humiliating Britain could only bolster Argentine prestige and raise the junta’s legitimacy. Galtieri began to formulate a plan.

On March 19th, 1982, a group of Argentine scrap metal merchants (which had been infiltrated by Argentine Marines) raised the Argentine flag at South Georgia Island, a provocative act that would later be seen as the first offensive action in the forthcoming “Falklands War.”

In response, the Royal Navy ice patrol vessel HMS Endurance was dispatched from Stanley to South Georgia on the 25th. The Argentine military junta, suspecting that the UK would reinforce its South Atlantic Forces, ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands to be brought forward to April 2nd.

Despite numerous warnings by Royal Navy captain Nicholas Barker - commanding officer of the Endurance - and others in the South Atlantic, the British government was initially shocked by Argentine attacks on the islands. Such bold action on the part of the Argentines had not been predicted, especially with new rounds of talks scheduled to take place at the UN later in the year. For his part, Barker believed that Defence Secretary John Silkin had “practically invited” the Argentines to invade. The year prior, Silkin had made comments in his 1981 review of British Defence policy that as a “cost saving measure”, the Royal Navy should withdraw Endurance - the last of its ships in the South Atlantic - from the region indefinitely. Barker believed that Buenos Aires took these comments as confirmation that the British would “not lift a finger” to protect the islands.

On April 2nd, 1982, Argentine forces launched Operation Rosario - a series of amphibious landings across the Falkland Islands. The invasion was met with a fierce but brief defense organized by the Falkland Islands' Governor Sir Rex Hunt, giving command to Major Mike Norman of the Royal Marines. The local garrison consisted of 68 marines and 11 naval hydrographers, assisted by 23 volunteers of the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF), who had few weapons and were mostly used as lookouts. The Argentine forces began their attack by seizing an empty barracks at Moody Brook, then moving on Government House - the official residence of the Governor - in Stanley. When it became clear to Governor Hunt that further resistance was futile, and only likely to get his small detachment killed, he ordered a ceasefire and surrendered. The governor, his family and the British military personnel were flown to Argentina that afternoon and later repatriated to the United Kingdom.

Above: Argentine soldiers interact with Falkland Islanders during the opening stages of the invasion (left); Sir Rex Hunt, colonial Governor of the Falklands, who mounted a brave defense, then surrendered when it became clear that he could not hope to hold out without reinforcements from the Home Islands (right).

Prior to the April 2nd invasion, the British had already taken action of their own.

Responding to the attack on South Georgia on March 29th, the Royal Navy dispatched the nuclear submarines HMS Spartan from Gibraltar, and HMS Splendid from Scotland, both to support Endurance. Supply ships, such as the Fort Austin were also dispatched from the Mediterranean. Dispatching additional ships was considered, but initially rejected, as the Defence Ministry did not wish to endanger other operational commitments until they knew for certain the seriousness of the threat posed by the Argentine invasion.

On the 30th of March, an emergency cabinet meeting was called back at 10 Downing Street in London. Prime Minister Denis Healey chaired the meeting. He was said to be taking the entire situation “deathly seriously”, referring to it, even at this fairly early stage, as a “crisis in the making”. At this meeting, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Henry Leach, advised that “Britain could and should send a fully outfitted task force if the islands are invaded”. The cabinet, led by Healey, agreed.

Well, mostly agreed.

Two ministers - Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council Michael Foot; and Secretary of State for Energy Tony Benn - both opposed the move as a matter of principle. Both men were staunch anti-war pacifists. They had built their reputation in the Labour Party during the 1960s and 70s as opponents of first American and Australian involvement in Southeast Asia and later, British involvement in Rhodesia. Though they sympathized with the plight of the Islanders, neither man supported going to war with Argentina over the islands. Instead, Benn and Foot voiced their preference that the matter be submitted to the International Court at the Hague for arbitration.

Above: Tony Benn (left) and Michael Foot (right); the two members of Healey’s Ministry who disagreed with the Prime Minister’s authorization of the use of force against Argentina during the Falklands Crisis.

The PM balked. Famously, Healey responded to the ministers’ complaints by declaring, “Arbitration? Gentlemen, they’re already shooting down there!” The time for arbitration has passed.”

Healey’s outlook on the crisis was determined by a number of factors. Chief among them was his view of geopolitics. Though certainly pragmatic and flexible, Healey was also an old school Cold Warrior. Despite his social democratic domestic politics, Healey strongly believed that furthering British interests meant containing communism in general, and Soviet influence around the globe in particular. It also meant being willing to fight, up to and including war, to protect the people of Britain and her outlying territories.

Another major factor contributing to Healey’s position was his experience as a decorated veteran of the Second World War.

After graduating from Oxford in 1940, Healey enlisted in the British army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in April of 1941. Serving with the Royal Engineers, he saw action in the North African campaign, the Allied invasion of Sicily (1943) and the Italian campaign (1943 - 1945). He was the military landing officer (“beach master”) for the British assault brigade at Anzio in 1944. Healey later became an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire, a chivalric order) in 1945. He left the service with the rank of Major. He declined an offer to remain in the army, with the rank of Lieutenant colonel, as part of the team researching the history of the Italian campaign under Colonel David Hunt. He also decided against taking up a senior scholarship at Balliol, which might have led to an academic career. Instead, Healey joined the Labour Party, launching his political career.

Still in uniform, he gave a strongly left-wing speech to the Labour Party conference in 1945, declaring, “the upper classes in every country are selfish, depraved, dissolute and decadent”.

Needless to say, Healey made quite the impression.

Throughout the Wilson Ministry of the mid 1960s, Healey served as Secretary of State for Defence, a position which only solidified his “fighting” stance on foreign affairs. In that position, Healey helped plan and execute the early stages of the War in Rhodesia. As Shadow Defence Minister throughout the Randolph Churchill and Thatcher governments in the mid 1970s, Healey remained intimately interested in military affairs. When he became Labour leader on the eve of the ‘78 election, Healey promised not just to restore the British economy, but to protect Britain’s military strength and prestige.

Finally, there were, of course, political considerations.

While public opinion polling in the UK proper was not available to the Healey Ministry during these early days of the crisis, the PM correctly predicted that the British people would overwhelmingly favor a military response to Argentina’s aggression. Indeed, if Healey did not pursue a spirited defense of the Falklands, it was very possible that the Tories, now under their newly elected leader Geoffrey Howe, would bludgeon Labour with their inaction and ride the issue to victory in subsequent elections, presently scheduled for sometime in 1983. This was in addition to public opinion in the Islands themselves which, again, overwhelmingly favored continued union with Britain.

Though Healey respected Benn and Foot personally and professionally, he also felt that his wayward ministers were his chief rivals within the cabinet for leadership of the Labour Party. Indeed, both Benn and Foot had run against Healey in the last leadership election and finished third and second, respectively. The PM could not help but wonder to what degree the two men’s protests were calculated political decisions, to differentiate themselves in the eyes of their staunchly pacifist party base. A “principled stance” here could lead to possible victory for them in the party’s next leadership election.

Frankly, Healey was more than a little frustrated.

When all ministers except for Benn and Foot voted to go ahead with military intervention, Healey asked them to sign onto the order being given to Admiral Leach, as he wanted it to be unanimous. The two ministers refused. Healey then asked them both for their resignations; both were promptly submitted.

Two days later, on April 1st, Leach sent orders to a Royal Navy force carrying out exercises in the Mediterranean to prepare to sail south. Following the full-scale invasion on April 2nd, after an emergency meeting of the cabinet, approval was given to form a task force to retake the islands. This was backed up in an emergency sitting of the House of Commons the next day. Though Benn and Foot’s resignations caused a minor scandal for the PM, any hit the government took in the polls was almost immediately papered over by a “rally around the flag” effect, as patriotic Britons supported their leader in this time of crisis.

Above: Prime Minister Denis Healey, leader of the UK during the Falklands War (left); the cover of Newsweek on April 19th, 1982 (right); the title of the cover story is of course, a reference to the 1980 Star Wars sequel of the same name.

On April 6th, the British Government set up a War Cabinet to provide day-to-day political oversight of the campaign. This was the critical instrument of crisis management for the British with its sphere being to “keep under review political and military developments relating to the South Atlantic, and to report as necessary to the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee”. The War Cabinet met at least daily until it was dissolved on August 12th. Although Denis Healey is described as “dominating the War Cabinet”, Lawrence Freedman notes in the Official History of the Falklands Campaign that he “did not ignore opposition or fail to consult others. However, once a decision was reached, he ‘did not look back’”

Upon learning that the British would, in fact, use military force to retake the islands, Argentina shifted its efforts toward trying to drum up support for a UN Resolution against British intervention. Argentina’s representatives at the UN pointed to earlier resolutions calling on both sides to settle the Falklands issue through “discussion” and “arbitration”. They tried to capitalize on Benn and Foot’s resignations as “signs of discontent” with armed conflict within Westminster. Unfortunately for them, this discontent did not materialize.

Meanwhile, on April 1st, London told the UK ambassador to the UN, Peter Shore, that an invasion was imminent and that he should call an urgent meeting of the Security Council in order to get a favorable resolution against Argentina. Shore had to get 9 affirmative votes from the 15 Council members, and to avoid a blocking vote from any of the other four permanent members (The US, France, USSR, and China). The meeting took place at 11:00 am on April 3rd, New York time (4:00 pm in London). United Nations Security Council Resolution 502 was then adopted by 10 to 1 (with Panama voting against) and 4 abstentions. Significantly, the Soviet Union and China both abstained.The resolution stated that the UN Security Council was:

“Deeply disturbed at reports of an invasion on April 2nd, 1982 by armed forces of Argentina;
Determining that there exists a breach of the peace in the region of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas),
Demands an immediate cessation of hostilities;
Demands an immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
Calls on the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to seek a diplomatic solution to their differences and to respect fully the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The resolution was a significant diplomatic victory for the UK; it gave the British the upper hand diplomatically by not only allowing for British military intervention (which would be a legitimate case of self-defense), but also by placing the blame for the conflict squarely on Argentina. The British also received diplomatic support from its fellow Commonwealth nations. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand all withdrew their ambassadors from Buenos Aires following the Argentine invasion.

In a surprising turn of events, not only did French president Francois Mitterrand not order his UN ambassador to veto the resolution, he also went so far as to declare an arms embargo with Argentina, “until such time as peace shall be restored in the Falklands”. France allowed UK aircraft and warships use of its port and airfield facilities at Dakar in Senegal, and provided dissimilar aircraft training so that Harrier pilots could train against the French aircraft used by Argentina.

Above: Francois Mitterrand, President of France, who surprised many by not only not opposing Britain’s use of force against Argentina, but by actively supporting their efforts. Many saw this as an attempt by Mitterrand to “pivot” back toward his fellow NATO allies.

This is not to say that the British had universal international support. Far from it. Though Chile’s government opposed Argentina’s invasion (Chile was in negotiations with Argentina for control over the Beagle Channel at the time and feared that Argentina would use similar tactics to secure the channel), as did Brazil (who officially “remained neutral”), other nations, such as Cuba and Peru, supported it. Cuba, in particular, attempted to rally either the Soviet Union or the Non-Aligned Movement to support Argentina’s actions. In response, British diplomats complained that Castro’s regime seemed to be “attempting to cynically exploit this crisis” in order to pursue normalization and recognition of its regime. Despite Cuba’s efforts, however, Asian and African nations declined to back Argentina.

The Soviets described the Falklands as a “disputed territory”, recognizing Argentina's ambitions over the islands, and called for “restraint on all sides”. While Soviet media frequently criticized both London and Washington’s actions throughout the crisis, critically, the Soviets did not veto the UK’s security council resolution at the UN. This allowed the resolution to go through without incident, signaling that Buenos Aires could not expect Soviet diplomatic support, either. Some in the Kremlin did suggest vetoing the resolution, but First Secretary Romanov declined. He argued that to do so would “needlessly antagonize the west” for no noticeable gain on the part of Moscow. Unfortunately, this sense of restraint would not win out in October, when the Soviets created a crisis of their own with Sweden.

Meanwhile, some “shuttle diplomacy” took place between the two members of NATO’s “special relationship” - the UK and the United States. On April 8th, 1982, US Secretary of State Ed Muskie arrived in London on a mission from President Robert F. Kennedy. Muskie’s objective was to provide American diplomatic support for British operations by playing the role of prospective mediator. The US’s position on the entire episode could not have been clearer. America firmly supported her British ally.

Madeleine Albright, the US Ambassador to the UN, had been among the earliest and most vocal supporters of Shore’s resolution. Indeed, although some in the United States viewed Britain’s actions as being in opposition to the Monroe Doctrine (a European power intervening in the Western Hemisphere to protect its sphere of influence), most Americans (if they were even aware of the conflict at all) supported Britain, which they viewed as the US’s chief partner on the world stage.

For his part, President Kennedy considered the matter to be an “open and shut case”. The UK was America’s chief ally. His administration considered the junta in Buenos Aires to be an illegitimate, authoritarian regime at war with its own populace. He was never going to support Argentina against Britain, especially not when the Falkland Islanders (and this was the key point to Kennedy) wanted to remain part of the UK. Kennedy ordered the CIA to provide Britain with access to relevant information gathered by American spy planes and satellites, all of which would prove invaluable during the subsequent liberation of the islands. Both chambers of the US Congress later passed resolutions supporting both the UK’s use of force and the President’s support of their actions.

The US would also provide the UK with 200 sidewinder missiles for use by their Harrier jets; along with eight Stinger surface-to-air missile systems, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and mortar bombs. On Ascension Island, the underground fuel tanks were empty when the British Task Force arrived in mid-April 1982 and the leading assault ship, HMS Fearless, did not have enough fuel to dock when it arrived off the island. The United States diverted a supertanker to replenish both the fuel tanks of ships at anchor there and the storage tanks on the island with approximately 7,600,000 liters of fuel. The Pentagon - under Secretary of Defense Scoop Jackson - further committed to providing additional support in the event that the war dragged on into the Southern Hemisphere's winter. In that scenario, the US committed tanker aircraft to support Royal Air Force missions in Europe, releasing RAF aircraft to support operations over the Falklands.

Above: Secretary of Defense Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, who oversaw the delivery of US material aid to the British during the Falklands War.

Secretary of State Muskie attempted to arrange an emergency summit between Galtieri’s regime and the British government to avert war, but the Argentines proved elusive. Realizing that the world (even including much of Latin America) did not support their cause, they nevertheless felt confident that, having occupied the islands by force, they were “impervious” to British counter-attack.

Thus, it came to war.

The nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror set sail from Scotland on April 4th. The aircraft carriers Invincible and Hermes and their escort vessels left Portsmouth, England only a day later. Hermes would serve as the flagship for the task force, around which all operations were planned. On its return to Southampton from a world cruise on April 7th, the ocean liner SS Canberra was requisitioned and set sail two days later with the Third Royal Marine Commando Brigade aboard. The ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II was also requisitioned, and left Southampton on May 12th, with the 5th Infantry Brigade on board. The whole task force eventually comprised 127 ships: 43 Royal Navy vessels, 22 Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, and 62 merchant ships; quite the fleet, indeed.

Despite this admittedly impressive display of naval might, the retaking of the islands was, nonetheless, considered to be extremely daunting. The chances of a British counter-invasion succeeding were assessed by the US Navy as “a military impossibility”. This was largely due to the geographic isolation and remoteness of the Falkland Islands themselves. The task force’s headquarters was established by mid-April at an airbase, co-located with Wideawake Airfield, on the mid-Atlantic British overseas territory of Ascension Island. Ascension is located nearly 6,000 km away from the Falklands. Another difficulty would be Britain’s lack of deployable air cover to the region. The British had just 42 aircraft available for air combat operations: 28 Sea Harriers and 14 Harrier GR.3s. Compared to the Argentine air force, which could deploy between 50 and 120 jet fighters, the British seemed hopelessly outnumbered. The British also lacked crucial airborne early warning and control aircraft, and had to contend with the Argentine surface fleet, which boasted the powerful, French-built Exocet anti-ship missiles.

Despite the challenges they faced, the Royal Navy got to work.

After establishing their headquarters on Ascension Island, the fleet sent a small force of Royal Marines to recapture South Georgia. Meanwhile, back at headquarters, a new wing of aircraft was assembled, including Avro Vulcan B Mk 2 bombers; refueling craft; and McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR Mk 2 fighters to protect them.

Engagements between the opposing sides began in April. The British Task Force was shadowed by Boeing 707 aircraft of the Argentine Air Force during their travel to the south. Several of these flights were intercepted by Sea Harriers outside the British-imposed Total Exclusion Zone; the unarmed 707s were not attacked because diplomatic moves were still in progress and the UK had not yet decided to commit itself to armed force. By the end of the month, however, the British established a no-fly zone over the islands to accompany their “Total Exclusion Zone”.

Above: Royal Navy FAA Sea Harrier FRS1 (left); and the Avro Vulcan B Mk 2 bomber (right); two of the primary aircraft employed by British forces in the Falklands War.

On April 21st, the first landings on South Georgia by the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) began. These commandos, highly trained for operations in extreme environments, were sent ahead to act as reconnaissance for the rest of the Royal Marines to follow. Despite initial setbacks, including poor weather and threats of an Argentine submarine in the vicinity, the commandos regrouped and launched a full-scale attack on the 24th. The day following, a naval and air battle broke out with the Argentine submarine Santa Fe, which was so severely damaged in the fighting that it could not submerge. The ship was later abandoned at a jetty in South Georgia. After a short forced march by the British troops and a naval bombardment demonstration by two Royal Navy vessels (Antrim and Plymouth), the Argentine forces, a total of 190 men, surrendered without resistance.

The message sent from the naval force at South Georgia to London was, “Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God Save the Queen.” Prime Minister Healey broke the news to the media, telling them to “Toast to that news, and congratulate our forces and the Marines!” The war to retake the Falklands had begun in earnest with a British victory.

On May 1st, British operations on the Falklands proper opened with the first of five raids on the airfield at Stanley. A Vulcan bomber from Ascension Island flew a 15,000 km round trip, dropping conventional bombs across the airfield runway. The mission required repeated aerial refueling using several tanker aircraft operating in concert, including tanker-to-tanker refueling; the entire mission took its crew over 15 hours to complete.

Though the overall effect of these raids - codenamed “Operation Black Dog” - are difficult to determine, they did have a marked effect on Argentine and British morale. The Argentines realized that the British could and would strike, even from such a vast distance away. They also recognized that if the RAF could strike them at Stanley, they could also hit the Argentine mainland, if they so desired. The Argentine air force was forced to redeploy fighter aircraft from the Falklands toward the mainland further north. This served to severely undermine Argentine attempts to maintain air superiority.

Because the Falklands possessed only three airfields (one of them - at Stanley - paved), and none of these were long enough to launch fast jet aircraft, the Argentines were forced to launch their own fighters from the mainland. This delayed their reaction time and hampered their ability to respond to British attacks, to perform patrols, and to provide close air support to their soldiers on the ground. When Argentine planes did manage to reach the Exclusion Zone, jets launched from Hermes and Invincible were well-positioned to intercept them.


Above: A map showing Infantry deployment in the East Falklands after British landings in San Carlos.​

A blow-by-blow account of the War - which wound up lasting for 2 months, 1 week, and 4 days - is not necessary.

Suffice it to say, the opening moves around South Georgia were repeated, albeit at larger scale and at greater cost in both men and material on the Falklands themselves. Throughout May, the naval and air war led to continued British victories. This was followed in June by the counter-invasion and liberation of the islands themselves, first by commandos, then by additional numbers of Royal Marines. Stanley, the capital and thrust of Argentine defenses, surrendered on June 13th. The following day, Prime Minister Healey announced a ceasefire and the commencement of negotiations for the Argentines’ surrender. A week later, on the 19th, the British retook the South Sandwich Islands as well.

In total, 901 people were killed in the 73 days of fighting - 645 from Argentina; 253 from the United Kingdom. The British also suffered 770 injured or wounded compared to 1,168 Argentines injured or wounded.

Though brief, the war was far bloodier than either side expected. For such a relatively “small” and ultimately, undeclared war, the conflict produced considerable casualties. The material loss was also far greater than expected - especially of shipping and aircraft. For a couple of “bald men fighting over a comb”, the results turned out to be pretty gruesome.

Back in the United Kingdom, Denis Healey’s popularity soared. The success of the Falklands campaign was widely regarded as a factor in the turnaround in fortunes for the Labour government, who had been slipping in opinion polls for months before the conflict began. Healey’s rival, Conservative leader Geoffrey Howe was forced to admit, “In Healey, Labour has finally found a war leader we can all rally behind.” Following the British victory in the Falklands, Labour returned to the top of the opinion polls by a wide margin and went on to win the following year's general election in a landslide. Subsequently, any planned cuts for the budget of the Royal Navy were quietly abandoned.


Above: Prime Minister Denis Healey (left); Labour Party logo, circa 1982 (right).​

The full-British citizenship of the Islanders themselves was swiftly restored. Investments in their quality of life - including political devolution and economic liberalization - were swiftly enacted as a kind of recompense for what they’d been through. London also moved to provide the Islanders with a viable garrison of British troops and naval vessels to patrol nearby waters. Hermes, the aircraft carrier flagship of the fleet, remained in the Falklands until the airstrip at Stanley could be lengthened and upgraded to accommodate RAF jet fighters permanently. This new arrangement - informally called “Fortress Falklands” - showed the world a reinvigorated Britain, committed to a confident, powerful defense policy, even under Labour. Many in popular culture would call the war “a last hurrah for the British Empire”.

In Argentina, the war led to the collapse of the military junta. Having humiliated the nation on the international stage, any remaining confidence or good will that the military might enjoy amongst the Argentine people evaporated. Following the general election held in October of the following year, democracy returned to Buenos Aires. Raúl Alfonsín, leader of the resurgent Radical Civic Union’s progressive/social democratic wing, was elected President of Argentina in a landslide. Ironically, Alfonsín was the son of a Falkland Islander mother. He spent his first year in office undoing many of the authoritarian excesses of the junta and seeking justice for their crimes.


Above: Raúl Alfonsín, the “father of modern democracy in Argentina” (left); the logo for the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), Alfonsín’s political party (right).

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