June 20, 2012
The British response to Argentina’s surprise invasion of the Falkland Islands 30 years ago holds lessons for the United States today, Heritage Foundation expert Ted Bromund argues.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s swift and decisive action led to a rout of the Argentines. Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War.
First, Bromund explains, the U.S. should keep its military prepared for any surprise:
Strategic surprise is a fact of life; governments need to remember that and—especially in the realm of defense—keep enough reserve capacity and flexibility to act successfully when their predictions are wrong.
Secondly, the military should focus on mortal threats. Thatcher understood that Argentina was an enemy, though not of the same caliber as the Soviet Union. After the victory, she brought British forces back to Europe to protect the homeland. In the same regard, the U.S. should focus the most attention on homeland security.
The third lesson is to understand the impact of widespread cultural consequences that result from any war, writes Bromund, a scholar in Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. The Falkland incident discredited many South American dictatorships and led to increased democracy around the world. In the same vein, any military campaign set out by the U.S. will have cultural ramifications, win or lose.
Lastly, Bromund reminds us that there are no permanent victories. Great Britain may have won in 1982, but even today the Falklands remain a political issue in Argentina. Therefore, it is important that the U.S. not let its guard down. Bromund claims that maintaining our defenses and backing key allies will help provide for the common defense, as the Constitution requires.
Are there any other lessons the U.S. should take from the Falklands War?