In all the New Year broo-ha-ha I forgot to share my amusement at the annual release of classified documents under the 30-year rule. This year, of course, it covered, amongst other things, the Falklands war, or perhaps, now that we know what went on, we should rename it 'the Washington war'! Dr. Tim Stanley, an English history prof who specialises in America, wrote a summary for the Daily Telegraph. According to the prof (who looks about 14-years old!), Mrs Thatcher, as she was then, quickly learned that "the special relationship is only special when it's convenient". This was made clear when the Americans told her that they felt the need to inform the Argentinians of the forthcoming British landings on South Georgia in order to maintain their stance of neutrality. Of course, they assured her, they would only do this at the last possible moment so as to avoid British casualties but . . . Well, needless to say, out came the handbag with the lead weight in it and perhaps Reagan felt that, on the whole, being shot was less painful! I frequently bemoan the useless, when not actually harmful, activities of our very own 'Ministry for Foreigners' but the American State Department reminds me, constantly, that it could be worse. Were there really educated, knowledgeable, sophisticated people at the highest level of American foreign affairs who thought that tipping off the 'Argies' to our landing, even at the last moment, would do anything other than utterly rupture the Atlantic alliance? Every British casualty, fairly or unfairly, would have been laid at the door of a treacherous White House and an alliance that had lasted through two world wars would have ended instantly. Was that really worth being thought well of by a bunch of drunken, debauched, Argentinian thugs dressed in ridiculous uniforms and well past their sell-by date, General Haig and Mrs. Kirkpatrick?
Mind you, whilst it is easy - alas, all too easy - to deride the many imbeciles who inhabit American governments we should not forget our very own. By a sheer fluke we had the most outstanding prime minister since Churchill but just pause and consider what might have happened if that doddering, old fool, Michael Foot, had been running the country - yeeeees, quite! And also, before we lay into the (so-called) American elite with our base-ball bats, let us pause and raise a glass to the memory of (Sir) Caspar Weinberger, a man who could definitely see the British wood for the Argentinian trees!
Well, after 30 years, it's all "blood under the bridge" but as Dr. Stanley reminds us, it behoves British statesmen to keep a very clear eye open when appraising likely American responses to this or that. What we do not need is the sort of moon-calf love exhibited by 'Dim Dave':
Alas, whenever David Cameron takes a romantic break in Washington DC, it’s truly love that we see in his eyes as he hangs on Barack’s every word. Some of us will never forgive him for describing the UK as America’s “junior partner” during the Second World War. Given how much an Eton education costs, you’d have imagined that Dave would’ve paid a little more attention in history class.