Reagan’s considerable personal charm failed on this occasion. Thatcher, in full ‘‘Iron Lady’’ mode, told the president she was sure he would take the same dim view of international mediation if Alaska had been taken by a foe.
‘‘The Prime Minister stressed that Britain had not lost precious lives in battle and sent an enormous Task Force to hand over the Queen’s Islands (the Falklands) immediately to a contact group,’’ says the memo produced the next morning by Thatcher’s private secretary. She told the president there was ‘‘no alternative’’ to surrender and re-establishment of full British control.
The newly public documents also reveal an extraordinary draft telegram written several days later by Thatcher to Argentinian leader Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri in which she describes in very personal terms the death and destruction both leaders would grapple with in the coming days unless Argentina backed down.
She tells her counterpart that the decisive battle is about to begin, imploring him to begin a full withdrawal to avoid more bloodshed.
‘‘With your military experience you must be in no doubt as to the outcome. In a few days the British flag will once again be flying over Port Stanley. In a few days also your eyes and mine will be reading the casualty lists. On my side, grief will be tempered by the knowledge that these men died for freedom, justice, and the rule of law. And on your side? Only you can answer the question.’’
The telegram was never sent, and Galtieri resigned in disgrace several days after Britain reclaimed the islands.
National Archives: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Margaret Thatcher Foundation: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/