The Causes of the Falklands War of 1982

The Causes of the Falklands War of 1982

The Argentine flag was raised on the South Atlantic island of South Georgia, which was British sovereign territory, in March of 1982. This illegal move was the first step towards the Falklands War.

The group of Argentinean scrap metal dealers who raised the Argentine flag on British sovereign territory in March of 1982 was the first sign of what would become the Falklands War. The island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic ocean, which was a base for an out of use whaling station, was owned by the British and therefore the Argentine action was illegal. This move triggered the arrival of British Royal Marine Commandos to move the Argentines on.

However, rather than moving on, a substantial Argentine military force arrived on the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, signalling a major violation of international law. While American Secretary of State Al Haig attempted intervention and led negotiations to try and remove the Argentines, General Galtieri refused to allow his troops to leave the location. This action then led to a military response from the British.

The Cover of Newsweek Magazine, 19 April 1982
The Cover of Newsweek Magazine, 19 April 1982

However, while this may be a clear-cut reason to the British as to why the Falklands conflict began, in Argentina, things looked a little different. The Falkland Islands, or the Malvinas, as the islands are called in Argentina, were seen as being theirs. The Argentine military saw the alleged British ownership of the islands as an outdated link back to the British Empire days when the country had appropriated land which was not theirs to take, thanks to the strength of its military. Many Argentines felt that, as the Falkland Islands lay only 200 miles away from the country’s mainland, they therefore belonged to them.

Argentina was also having major economic issues at the time of the move on the Falkland Islands, mainly due to a high level of inflation. The military heavyweights hoped that the successful retaking of the islands would encourage the public to get behind the Argentine Government, as well as providing some positivity in the midst of the economic blackspot.

As neither Argentina nor Britain was prepared to back down over the ownership of the Falkland Islands, the ensuing conflict was therefore inevitable, despite the many attempted peace negotiations that took place.

See also: Timeline of Falkland Islands and 1982

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Causes of the Falklands War of 1982". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.