© 2018

Britain and the Dictatorships of Argentina and Chile, 1973–82

Foreign Policy, Corporations and Social Movements

  • Examines newly-released British government documents to explore the shaping of British policy towards the dictatorships of Chile and Argentina

  • Traces the social networks of Foreign Office officials and business leaders to show how policies that benefitted the interests of British companies and banks were prioritised

  • Discusses the evolution of ‘ethical’ foreign policy and its continuing influence on British policy today


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 1-33
  3. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 35-44
  4. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 45-55
  5. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 115-120
  6. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 121-127
  7. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 129-160
  8. Grace Livingstone
    Pages 233-239
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 241-280

About this book


This book explores the links between the British government and the dictatorships of Argentina and Chile, 1973-82, using newly-opened British archives. It gives the most complete picture to date of British arms sales, military visits and diplomatic links with the Argentine and Chilean military regimes before the Falklands war. It also provides new evidence that Britain had strategic and economic interests in the Falkland Islands and was keen to exploit the oil around the Islands. It looks at the impact of private corporations and social movements, such as the Chile Solidarity Campaign and human rights groups, on foreign policy. By analyzing the social background of British diplomats and tracing the informal social networks between government officials and the private sector, it considers the pro-business biases of state officials. It describes how the Foreign Office tried to dissuade the Labour governments of 1974-79 from imposing sanctions on the Pinochet regime in Chile and discusses whether un-elected officials place constraints on politicians aiming to pursue an ‘ethical’ foreign policy. 


Junta Pinochet Falkland Islands Labour Conservative Thatcher Arms Refugees Foreign office Private sector Profit Ethical foreign policy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Latin American StudiesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

About the authors


Grace Livingstone is an Affiliated Lecturer at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, UK, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, UK. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge. She is also a journalist and has reported for the BBC World Service, the Guardian, the Observer and the Independent. She is the author of Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy and War and America’s Backyard: the United States and Latin America from the Monroe Doctrine to the War on Terror.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Britain and the Dictatorships of Argentina and Chile, 1973–82
  • Book Subtitle Foreign Policy, Corporations and Social Movements
  • Authors Grace Livingstone
  • Series Title Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World
  • Series Abbreviated Title Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-78291-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-08666-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-78292-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 280
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Latin American History
    History of Britain and Ireland
    Political History
    Social History
    Foreign Policy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Grace Livingstone's book should be read by everyone who takes an interest in foreign policy and international affairs. It is a gem which demonstrates not only the need for changes in the way that foreign policy is formulated but also for a more open and democratic system of recruiting Foreign Office and diplomatic personnel ...” (Stan Newens, Spokesman, Issue 141, 2019) 

“The work is, I believe, unique in undertaking an in-depth examination of the role of the state during this important period for international relations, because no-one to date has undertaken such a holistic and intelligently perceptive approach to examining government policy, bringing in issues of class, economics, the role played by solidarity pressure groups and trade unions and structural factors. … There is so much of value in this book. … A vital contribution to our historical understanding of how the state works.” (Morning Star,, October, 2018)