During the short war, some members of the revolutionary left in Great Britain became Argentinian chauvinists and supported the occupation of the Falklands by the Argentine military junta. This enabled the conservatives to portray the left-wing as anti-British and pro-Argentinian. There was no justification for supporting the Argentinian dictatorship. Both Great Britain and Argentina were bourgeois capitalist nations!
Yet the revolutionary left was blinded by their opposition to British Imperialism. We see this blindness still in the form of dogmatic revolutionary sects like the Communist Party of Great Britain - Marxist Leninist. Like many revolutionary leftists in 1982, the current CPGB-ML has supported every dictatorial regime that stood against western imperialism. From the bloody Gaddafi regime during the Libyan civil war, to the nepotistic Al-Assad regime of today's conflict in Syria!
The capitalist media only love this stupidity. They use the stupidity of some revolutionary leftist groups to portray all revolutionary socialists/communists as ''opponents of freedom and democracy''. The media did the same thing during the Falklands War. Members of the Labour Party were divided over the war, but the party leadership choose to support Thatcher and her costly war. It would not aid the Labour Party. During the elections of 1983, the Labour Party lost many seats to the conservatives who were boosted by the victorious Falklands War and the media as ''true British patriots''.
Back in 1982, the Argentinian military junta was losing popular support. They needed something to boost popularity. Admiral Jorge Isaac Anaya was the leading member of the junta who build the plans for the invasion. The Republic of Argentina always laid claim to the Falklands Islands, they call them the Malvinas Islands. The Argentinian military forces started their invasion on April 2. 600 marine troops attacked the Falklands and were able to defeat the 57 British SAS marines.After only a few hours of fighting, the Argentinians took full control. The death toll was very low, only one Argentinian soldier was killed!
The news of the Argentinean invasion soon reached Great Britain. Prime minister Margaret Thatcher took drastic actions and prepared the British milita ry to sail to South America. In the British House of Lords, the conservatives faced some opposition from left-wing Labour Party members. The conservatives accused the left-wing of abandoning the British people on the Falklands to a military dictatorship. Thatcher used classic bourgeois patriotism and called all who opposed the upcoming Falklands War ''cowards''!
Under heavy pressure from the conservatives and the capitalist media, the Labour Party choose to support the government. The media made sure that the British public were pro-war and fueled with British patriotism, Thatcher soon became a true imperialist war leader. As the British Royal Navy sailed towards the Falklands, the tabloids called it ''The Empire Strikes Back'' after the famous Star Wars movies!
Another supporter of British Imperialism during the Falklands War, was the social democratic president of France. François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand, was elected president in 1981. He promised to introduce democratic socialism in 100 days. Yet the capitalists and the rich showed that they were the true rulers of France. Massive capital flight and disinvestment by the international markets led to Mitterrand's capitulation. By 1983 he abandoned socialism and started to privatize many state owned businesses. He was one of the first social democrats who embraced neoliberalism!
Mitterrand was a supporter of British imperialism, this was good for Thatcher who needed the support of Western Europe. Most Europeans supported her imperialist war and he popularity rose fast among British voters. Few people understood how costly this war would be. Most were blinded by war propaganda from the tabloids who only wanted a confrontation between two armies!
There were alternatives to fighting. The Argentinian military junta was weak by 1982. A popular revolution was underway and in June ( after the war ) of that year, the military was forced to allow democratic elections. Had Great Britain waited a few months, then the junta would have fallen. Nobody would have died, the Falklands would be released and Great Britain would be two billion pounds richer. The costs for the ''liberation'' of the Falklands caused massive debts, it also was a reason why Thatcher started with massive cuts after the 1983 elections!
On April 25, Royal Marines and SAS units attacked the islands of South Georgia near the Falklands. The Argentinians had captured South Georgia on April 3, with the liberation of the islands on April 25, the British forces won their first victory. The Argentinians suffered a big defeat on May 2 as the General Belgrano was sunk. The Belgrano was a light cruiser and already 44 years old. Build by the Americans and sold to Argentina in 1951. For the Argentinian Navy the Belgrano was their pride. Yet on May 2, it was sunk by torpedo's from a British submarine. The sinking caused the death of 323 sailors!
The sinking of the Belgrano remains controversial. Some say that the ship was sailing back to Argentinian ports as it was outside the 200-mile “exclusion zone” which had been unilaterally declared around the Falkland Islands by the British conservative government. Critics say that Thatcher needed a military victory, since it would boost the support for the war. The capitalist-imperialist media needed a big victory story, as fighting in the Falklands would not be huge or sensational enough!
At this moment the media was all about war and fighting. There was no room for criticism or doubts. All major tabloids printed war propaganda and stories of brave British soldiers, fighting for ''freedom and democracy''. As British Imperialism celebrated the sinking of the Belgrano, Argentinian forces plotted revenge. Two days after the sinking the destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit by a cruise missile. Twenty men was killed in this attack and the ship was abandoned. The loss of the HMS Sheffield was a setback for British imperialism who believed that with the sinking of the Belgrano, Argentina would not dare to attack the mighty British fleet!
On May 21, the first British commando's landed in the Falklands. The fighting would last about two weeks and would end with the surrender of 11.000 Argentinian troops. Two days later the British frigate HMS Antelope is bombed by Argentinian fighters sinking the frigate. Another disaster for the British came on May 25. The type 42 destroyer HMS Coventry was hit by two bombs. The expositions killed 19 sailors and wounded more then 30. After only 20 minutes the destroyer had capsized and sunk. The loss of the HMS Coventry was a major blow to the war propaganda of the tabloids!
The revolutionary socialists in the Labour Party called for a socialist solution to the problem. Not by fighting but by a socialist revolution. They claimed that Britain should support a workers rebellion in Argentina and fight to overthrow the military junta. But since western imperialism was supportive of the anticommunist military junta, they did not do such thing. The military of Argentina came to power in 1976. They call their regime the ''National Reorganization Process'', their main enemy were revolutionary leftists. So the military started to arrest and kill many students and left-wing trade unionists. During this dirty war about 22.000 left-wing people were killed by the criminal Batallón de Inteligencia 601!
On June 14, the Argentinian Army surrendered to the British forces in the Falklands. They lost 649 soldiers, 11,313 were taken prisoner and 1.657 were wounded. Great Britain lost 258 soldiers and 775 ended up wounded. The British Royal Navy lost two destroyers and two frigates. On the other side, the Argentinians lost one cruiser, one submarine and four cargo ships. The Argentinian Air Force lost 35 fighters and 25 helicopters. British Air Forces lost 24 helicopters and 10 fighters!
Prime minister Thatcher became very popular thanks to the war. She won the 1983 elections and this gave way to a conservative neoliberal government. But the money spend on the war was huge. Two billion British pounds were spend on the fighting. Soon the public found out that the government needed to cut spending and they did not liked that. Thatcher attacked the trade unions and the mine workers, that led to the great mine strike of 1984. She was able to defeat the mine workers, thanks to all the resources of the ruling class she had at her disposal. The miners, ( some 2% of the labour movement ) had to fight 100% of that centralized ruling-class power with insufficient support and sometimes downright sabotage from the leaders of the other 98%. That was the cause of their defeat in 1984!
The left-wing in Great Britain was very divided over the Falklands War. Some revolutionary socialists opposed the imperialist intervention by Great Britain. The reformist socialists in the Labour Party choose to support it, while dogmatic anti-imperialist revolutionaries choose to support Argentinian chauvinism over British imperialism. The victory of British imperialism during the Falklands War and Thatcher's victory over the mine workers, turned the Labour Party more towards the right-wing. With the collapse of stalinism, the right-wing leadership started a witch hunt against revolutionary socialists. By 1997, the Labour Party completed her transformation from a bourgeois workers party into a fully bourgeois capitalist party!