When the strutting head of a military junta, General Leopold Galtieri, invaded the Falkland Islands, most British citizens had to rush to their atlases to find out just where the islands were.
The government appeared to be equally taken by surprise – so much so that the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, resigned.
There followed a frantic round of shuttle diplomacy, brokered by the United States.
To the astonishment of people in Britain, to the dismay of the Argentinians, and to the amazement of the United States and the rest of the world, Britain assembled a task force to sail to the South Atlantic.
It looked like Lord Palmerston’s Gunboat Diplomacy had returned, that Britain was somehow trying to recapture its colonial past, a final hurrah of an Empire on which the sun had set decades before.
The crisis became a defining moment of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, and changed her image and her political fortunes.
Before April 2, 1982, when the junta in Buenos Aires ordered the invasion of the Falkland islands – called Las Malvinas by the Argentines – opinion polls showed her to be the most unpopular Prime Minister ever as her approval rating had fallen below 25%.
Margaret Thatcher was the first (and only) female to serve England as Prime Minister. She was unafraid to deploy forces and demonstrate that she would not be pushed nor her people tampered with (however far away they might reside from her seat in Government).
The British forces she deployed struck fear into the assembled Argentine army conscripts who stood little chance against the highly-trained British Paras and Royal Marine Commandos. They left a wake behind them besting the invading forces more than two to one. With several strong (but highly divisive) choices, including the sinking of the Argentine Cruiser General Belgrano by the nuclear-powered British submarine, the HMS Conqueror, the responding British forces recaptured the Falkland islands and South Georgia.
The Iron Lady’s popularity soared, allowing her to call a general election in 1983 which she won by a landslide.
Monday Morning Perspective
“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Margaret Thatcher was not only an impeccable leader who served as one of the United States’ strongest allies in bringing down the Iron Curtain, but she set an example for those who seek to accomplish things which have yet to be done.
A woman had never served as Prime Minister. She rose to the challenge.
A woman had never commanded British Forces. She did and won a strategic victory in her first campaign and never allowed herself to be bullied or pressured by impending threats for the duration of her career.
She didn’t wait for doors to be opened for her or for everyone to agree with her. She acted upon her convictions, spoke her mind, and stuck to her guns. She was a formidable opponent, and an even better ally.
With her sudden passing, there’s no doubt the world has lost a true leader. She and her tenacity will be greatly missed, but her legacy will serve to inspire leaders for centuries to come.
May we be among them.
Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2013. All rights reserved.