It’s March 31, 1982. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a few top advisers are grappling with the grim news that Argentina has invaded the Falkland Islands. First Sea Lord Sir Henry Leach, in naval uniform, joins the meeting and asks for permission to assemble a naval task force. Charles Moore records the exchange:
“Can we do it?” asked Mrs. Thatcher with piercing urgency.
“We can, Prime Minister,” said Leach, “and, though it is not my place to say this, we must. . . . Because if we don’t do it, if we pussyfoot . . . we’ll be living in a totally different country whose word will count for little.”
At this, Leach remembered, Mrs. Thatcher gave a sort of half-smile, as if this was what she had wanted to hear.