The myth of the 'Special Relationship'
Sir John Nott, British Defence secretary during the Falklands war:
"The issue of America's involvement in the crisis is a crucial one. Certain Americans, of course, such as Casper Weinberger, the US Defence Secretary, were splendid from the outset.And that's not all:
But the State Department, at this time, was dominated by Latinos who saw President Reagan's Latin American policy going down the drain. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the American Ambassador to the UN, had even dined with the Argentines on the evening that they invaded British territory.
It took weeks of determined diplomacy by Sir Nicholas Henderson, our ambassador in Washington, before the White House was prepared to declare itself on the side of the British. Moreover, it did so, I suspect, only because Congress and American public opinion had come down heavily on our side. By doing so, it destroyed the support of the South American dictators for Reagan's anti-communist crusade in Central America.
As the Falklands conflict developed, America stopped arms sales to Argentina, but was unwilling to take more effective economic measures. Nicholas Henderson reported that the Americans were not prepared to "tilt" too heavily against Argentina; to do so, they said, would deprive them of their influence in Buenos Aires.
They did not want the Argentine dictator General Leopoldi Galtieri to fall - whereas we saw him as an outright fascist and aggressor. For the Americans, he was a central pillar of resistance to communism in South and Central America - and all the efforts of Reagan and the State Department were concentrated on the crisis in El Salvador.
The United States, it seemed, did not wish to choose between Britain and their interests in Latin America. Indeed, apart from Weinberger and the Pentagon, the Americans were very, very far from being on our side.
If Washington had been in the hands of the East Coast Wasps (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) instead of the West Coast Americans, with their overriding concern for the Americas, things might have been different.
But the State Department, the White House security staff and the president himself were, privately, never wholly committed to our cause. For all Margaret Thatcher's friendship with Ronald Reagan, he remained a West Coast American looking south to Latin America and west to the Pacific. Sometimes, I wondered if he even knew or cared where Europe was.
So, the Americans gave every assistance to the United Nations and every other mediator - Brazilian, Mexican and the rest - to bring about a negotiated settlement, on terms which would have been seen as a surrender in the United Kingdom. Then, in the closing stages of the conflict, when we had already lost many ships and men, they leant heavily on us - aided by telephone calls from Reagan to Thatcher - to find some way of saving Galtieri's face. "Magnanimity before victory" became their watch-phrase."
"In many ways, Mitterrand and the French were our greatest allies. They had supplied the Argentines with Mirage and Super Etendard aircraft in the earlier years; but, as soon as the conflict began, Mitterrand's defence minister got in touch with me to make some of these available so that our Harrier pilots could train against them before setting off for the South Atlantic. The French also supplied us with detailed technical information on the Exocet, showing us how to tamper with the missiles.Shouldn't a political scientist (and endless self-promoter as a commentator on politics) really be expected to know these things?
It was a remarkably successful operation. In spite of strenuous efforts by several countries - particularly Israel and South Africa - to help Argentina, we succeeded in intercepting and preventing the supply of further equipment to the Argentines, who were desperately seeking resupply."