The war between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas to the Argentines) was a short but relatively bloody one. Even though relatively small numbers of fighting people were involved, it had enormous repercussions around the world. The military junta that was ruling Argentina at the time was engaging in a dirty war against the Argentine people. Thousands were referred to as the disappeared, as they were abducted and disappeared without a trace. This war and the economic problems had led to a tremendous decline in the support the ruling junta had among the Argentine people. Their solution was to engage in a popular war of "conquest." The thought was that Britain would be unwilling or unable to execute an effective military response across thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean in order to retake the islands.
The Argentine military leaders also believed that the Reagan administration would come down on their side or at least avoid any overt aid to the British. At the time, the Reagan administration was involved in the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, a group of anti-Communist rebels fighting the government of Nicaragua. The Argentine military was providing a great deal of political and material support to the Contras and the Argentines thought that Reagan would not jeopardize that.
All of these thoughts proved to be fallacious, as the Reagan administration was more concerned about the Soviet threat. Britain was a NATO ally and could not in any way be allowed to fail. Therefore, when it became clear that war was inevitable, the United States came down squarely on the side of the British. Argentina was thoroughly defeated and the military leaders were removed from power. It led to the restoration of democracy in Argentina and the ultimate trial of those who engaged in the policy of disappearing people.
This book captures all of what the Falklands War was about. The murky arguments about sovereignty, the inaccurate assumptions of the Argentines, the determination of the British people to prevail, the political situation in Latin America and the role of the United States. The war was small, remote and there was almost no real-time journalistic coverage. Yet it changed a great deal around the world and demonstrated how vulnerable surface ships were to missiles and torpedoes. A large percentage of the casualties on both sides were from the damage to ships and the world learned a new phrase, "the Exocet missile."