Quote (Falklands War)

January 29th, 2009

Borges (real name was Jorge Luis Borges but he used the name “Borges”) was
Argentina’s most famous poet and man of letters in this century. He was a
member of the Anglo-Argentine aristocracy and actually learned English as
his first language. Blind toward the end of his life he was a cult figure to
non-Marxist intellectuals. Borges was nonpolitical so he was tolerated by
junta and despised by Marxists. His remark was a rebuke to the Argentine
junta, and should not be taken as a serious analysis of the war.

I strongly supported the British effort in the Falklands. Personally, I
think that had Mrs Thatcher caved in that Labor might have ousted her and
taken Britain out of NATO. (Perhaps not out of the alliance, but something
like DeGaulle did.) Yet, I don’t think I was alone in considering the war as
the result of a pointless, criminal blunder on the part of a corrupt and
very foolish government. When you think of how frivolous the issue involved
was the more you wonder about the stupidity of our fellow man. You can bet
the average Argentine didn’t think the islands were worth a major war. I’m
sure the population cheered as long as they thought there was no price to be
paid, but when the RN sailed down the mood changed. Several of my students
from both Argentina and Chile told me that many of the juntas’ opponents
(there lots of them) were quick to use the debacle as a lever to get the
military out of Argentina’s political life.

When I tell my students about the War of 1812 I outline its importance to
American history – but must conclude that it was a damn stupid war that was
very avoidable. The Falklands fit in that category. The two are not quite
the same. In 1812 the British government was only slightly stupider than
ours. The British were blameless for the Falklands hostilities. None of
this diminishes the skill and courage showed by the men of Britain’s armed

>I don’t know who Borges was, but he did not see the real issue.
> Britain was not going to be pushed around over something that it
>felt strongly about. I believe this was one of factors that induced
>the Soviets to recognise that they could not beat the West
>politically, economically or militarily. Hence Gorbachev and end of
>cold war. That was a prize worth winning.
>The Falklands War also put paid to the then Defence Minister’s
>(John Nott) idea of the RN becoming a coast defence navy with no
>reach. The carrier Invincible was about to be sold to Australia.
>End of John Nott. Properly balanced navy (within budget
>constraints). The bean counters often cannot see the wood for the
>Ian Buxton
>Dr Ian L Buxton Dept of Marine Technology
>Reader in Marine Transport University of Newcastle
>Phone +44 191 222 6712 Newcastle upon Tyne
>Fax +44 191 222 5491 NE1 7RU U K
>E-mail i.l.buxton@newcastle.ac.uk
Eric Bergerud, 531 Kains Ave, Albany CA 94706, 510-525-0930

The Mahan Naval Discussion List hosted here at NavalStrategy.org is to foster discussion and debate on the relevance of Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan's ideas on the importance of sea power influenced navies around the world.