A Freak of History

  • Valerie Adams


The Falklands campaign was, to say the least, an unexpected type of war for Britain to fight in 1982. It was militarily self-contained, limited in time, location and objective, and conducted at an enormous distance from the UK — Port Stanley is further away than Calcutta from London. The campaign has been described as ‘a freak of history’1 and an ‘atavistic interlude’:2 it is certainly easy to see it as an anachronism, left over from the colonial past. But the colonial past refuses to be dismissed from contemporary politics — and not only those of Britain and Argentina. Even as the fighting in the Falklands was drawing to a close, its predominant position in the British media was being overtaken by the conflagration in the Lebanon. Elsewhere on the African continent — Ethiopia, Chad, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa — the uneasy heritage of both colonial and tribal divisions continues to make itself felt. In the Caribbean, the American invasion of Grenada, impelled in part by the collapse of the post-colonial government there, led to one of the most serious — if temporary — rifts experienced in relations between Britain and America in post-war years. Thus the Anglo-Argentine conflict over the Falkland Islands was typical of the ‘increasing tendency towards regional disorders which cut across East–West lines’.3


Task Force Public Relation Falkland Island Operational Security Favourable Climate 
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  1. 3.
    Professor L. Freedman, ‘The Falklands War: Exception or Rule’, paper presented to the British International Defence Studies Association, Southampton, December 1982.Google Scholar

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© Valerie Adams 1986

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  • Valerie Adams

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