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Palgrave Macmillan

The British Government and the Falkland Islands, 1974-79

ISBN 9781137432506
Publication Date September 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World

Historians have hitherto cast British policy as one of consistent, weak appeasement prior to the 1982 war, encouraging Argentine leaders to stake everything on an invasion. Drawing on recently declassified government files, private papers and interviews, Aaron Donaghy argues against this popular notion. He shows that through a combination of preventative diplomacy and robust defence planning, the Labour government of 1974-79 succeeded in maintaining peace, avoiding the fate of its Tory successors.

The mid to late 1970s marked the most dangerous period prior to the war. The Argentine occupation of Southern Thule, withdrawal of ambassadors, attacks on ships and secret deployments tell only part of the story. Uncovering remarkable evidence, Donaghy explains how misconceptions about Britain's naval deployment in the South Atlantic in 1977 would have fatal consequences for policymaking in March 1982. This study of how the British government confronted Argentina will provide a new understanding of the immediate origins of the Falklands War.

Aaron Donaghy is an IRC Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin, Ireland. His research interests include twentieth-century British history and the history of international relations, particularly Anglo-American relations.

1. 'Leave This Poisoned Chalice Alone'
2. The Lowest Common Multiple
3. A Sensational Hostage
4. Islands Surrounded by Advice
5. The Mixed Approach
6. Absentee Landlords
7. Defence of the Realm
8. 'No Talks, Just Football'


"Aaron Donaghy merits congratulation for a well-researched and cogently argued analysis of the handling of the Falklands issue by the 1974–79 Labour government. Noting that the pre-1982 first volume of The Official History of the Falklands Campaign by Sir Lawrence Freedman is considerably shorter than its sequel, on the conflict itself, Donaghy challenges several areas of omission and contests other interpretations." - The Round Table, 2014
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