by John O’Sullivan

Once the task force had set sail, of course, conventional political attitudes began to re-emerge. The U.S., reasonably pursuing its own interests, wanted a compromise while knowing that in the absence of one it would support the Brits. The Foreign Office, the FT, the Left, and international bodies all wanted a diplomatic deal of some kind.

Was Mrs. Thatcher opposed to any such deal? No, she would have accepted one that forced the Argies to withdraw, restored British sovereignty and then discussed some reasonable accommodation to Argentine interests. She had to maneuver very carefully, however, to ensure that a reasonable compromise did not become a disguised surrender in the course of negotiations. And not just maneuver, but sometimes say firmly and clearly that she was having none of it. The climax of this more subtle battle came when Reagan himself asked her to accept a truce that would allow the hard-pressed Argentines in Port Stanley to avoid outright defeat. She turned him down flat, saying in the memoirs that she believed in the Churchillian motto of magnanimity in victory, but not in magnanimity before victory.