One week from today, nearly 3,000 citizens of the
Falkland Islands will celebrate for the 30th time the memory of one
of freedom’s great advocates. January 10
in that self-governing British territory is Margaret Thatcher Day.
These islands, thousands of miles from London, have
a special reason to toast one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers. Her resolution and British strength defended
their freedom from a grasping dictatorship in Argentina.
In 1982, facing internal dissent over infringements
on rights and a tanking economy, Argentina’s overlords decided to create an
external enemy. They believed that they
could assert a bad claim to the islands, conquer them, and win a war without a
fight against Great Britain. Such a
triumph would supposedly make the tyrants popular again. Or so they thought.
They had not reckoned on Margaret Thatcher.
She and her countrymen knew that, despite their
closeness to the Argentine coast, the island population had always been
primarily British. The United States had briefly claimed them in the 1830s, but
could not populate the barren rocks.
Ownership passed to Britain. A stream of hardy settlers established
commercial agriculture and a naval station.
Thus the land was cleanly colonized since no natives lived there prior to
For 150 years, the people lived in peace, menaced
briefly during the World Wars by German warships. Otherwise they lived calmly, until 1982 when Argentine
military forces stormed the quiet, defenseless territory.
Thatcher went immediately to the House of Commons to
deliver a dramatic account
of the invasion. She also conveyed
British determination to liberate the islands and their people.
The Prime Minister later wrote that everyone knew
that a British victory would be difficult, “but when you are at war you cannot
allow the difficulties to dominate your thinking: you have to set out with an
iron will to overcome them.”
Thatcher continued in a Churchillian vein. “And anyway
what was the alternative? That a common
or garden dictator should rule over the Queen’s subjects and prevail by fraud
and violence? Not while I was Prime
They needn’t have worried. British skill and courage quickly swept the
Argentines from the islands before the end of the year. Early in 1983, Thatcher herself visited the
islands to check on their rebuilding efforts.
A grateful people proclaimed January 10 “Margaret Thatcher Day” to
remember their resilience and her determination. Within two years, a new constitution promised
the people complete self-determination.
To this day, they resolutely express their desire to
If only Argentina had retired their imperialist
dreams with their resounding defeat in 1982.
Over the past year, the discovery of oil pools near
the islands inspired a new wave of Argentinian bellicosity. Although the British remain defiant, mixed
messages from Washington encourage them to push harder.
Obama’s foreign policy blundering has moved the
conflict closer to war. He actually referred
to the islands by their Argentinian name, the latest in a series of insults
against our British partners. The free
British citizens of the Falkland Islands once more must face the fear of
conquest and war through no provocation of their own.
Argentina will seize upon the slightest pretext to
claim support. In 1982, they misinterpreted
President Reagan’s desire for peace as support for their cause. He proved them dead wrong, saying that
Britain had “no choice but to proceed with military action based on the right
Those threatened by aggression need to hear our
voice. Every American should stand with
the people of the Falkland Islands on January 10 and celebrate that hero of
freedom, Margaret Thatcher.