The Malvinas War

The sinking of the Belgrano - 2 May 1982

The sinking of the Belgrano – 2 May 1982

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The Malvinas War

The war in the Malvinas (erroneously called the ‘Falklands’ in the UK) wasn’t the most serious ‘post-imperial glory’ conflict that Britain has been involved in the last just under 80 years – since the end of World War II – but it certainly was the most pointless, avoidable and shameful of all such outrages.

Two equally inept fascist leaders (Thatcher in the UK and Galtieri in Argentina) sought to divert attention to their failing policies at home by playing the nationalist/imperialist gambit over a collection of treeless islands in the South Atlantic. As a result almost a thousand lives were lost, half as many more were injured and an unknown number psychologically scarred. On top of that millions of pounds of resources were wasted during the (relatively) short conflict and in subsequent years.

The British were ‘victorious’ – but only by the skin of their teeth and with a huge dose of luck. And for the future of the people of Britain that was probably the worse possible result. The Union flag once more flying over Port Stanley meant that Thatcher was able to adopt the mantel of the Roman Emperors, standing to take the salute as the British Armed Forces marched past her in London on 12th October 1982.

For Britons at the time (and in the subsequent 40 years) it meant that Thatcher was able to grab hold of the tail of moribund imperialism, play on the feelings within the country that bemoaned the ‘loss of the empire’, manipulate an undercurrent of racism and use the ‘Falklands factor’ to get herself and her inept Tory Government re-elected in 1983.

The result of that was the speeding up of the programme of privatisation (a programme that originally started as a tactic of ‘selling off the family silver’ due to the Tories non-existent economic policy – which was later turned into the ‘philosophy’ of neo-liberal economics), the beginning of the destruction of the welfare state and a full frontal attack upon workers rights through the attempts to destroy their trade union organisations.

Subsequent governments (of whatever political colour) followed similar policies and that resulted in the destructive, baseless and futile wars of the 21st century with the country arriving at the sorry state of affairs that it found itself when having to confront the covid pandemic in March 2020.

The documents reproduced below are presented here to give an idea of the (in the main) opposition to the shameful and disgraceful ‘adventure’ in the Southern Atlantic in the (northern) spring of 1982.

The Falkland Islands – The Facts, London, HMSO Books, May 1982, 12 pages. The Thatcher Government’s justification for the war crime.

Falklands Crisis – A ‘Socialist’ answer, Ted Grant, Militant, London, 1982, 7 pages. A typical example of Trotskyite drivel that justified a clear imperialist operation.

Falklands-Malvinas, Whose Crisis, Latin American Bureau, London, 1982, 148 pages.

Malvinas are Argentina’s, Revolutionary Communist Party, London, 1982, 32 pages. A Trotskyite view of the Malvinas War.

One Man’s Falklands …. , Tam Dalyell, Cecil Woolf, London, 1982, 144 pages.

‘Rejoice’ – Media Freedom and the Falklands, Susan Greenberg and Graham Smith, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, London, 1982, 40 pages.

Iron Britannia – why Parliament waged its Falklands War, Anthony Barnett, Alison and Busby, London, 1982, 160 pages.

Thatcher’s Torpedo – The sinking of the Belgrano, Tam Dalyell, Cecil Woolf, London, 1983, 80 pages.

A message from the Falklands, David Tinker, Penguin, London, 1983, 214 pages.

On the Spot – The Sinking of the Belgrano, Diana Gould, with an introduction by Tam Dayell, Cecil Woolf, London, 1984, 80 pages.

An A to Z of the Falklands, Tam Dayell, West Lothian Labour Party, 1984, 32 pages.

Information leaking out 40 years after the event

UK deployed 31 nuclear weapons during Falklands war

British warships deployed to the South Atlantic after Argentina’s invasion of the ‘Falkland Islands’ (las Malvinas) in 1982 were armed with dozens of nuclear depth charges. Prince Andrew served on HMS Invincible, which carried 12 nuclear weapons.

How the Malvinas War is remembered in Argentina

Monument to the Fallen in the Malvinas – Buenos Aires

National Malvinas Monument – Ushuaia

Museum of the Malvinas War – Rio Gallegos

Malvinas Monument El Calafate

Las Malvinas and Rio Gallegos

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The end of the pandemic in Britain?

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The end of the pandemic in Britain?

There’s definitely a feeling, generally throughout the country (in England if not on the other ‘three nations’ of the ‘United Kingdom’) the the covid pandemic is all but over. Restrictions that had been in place over the change of year will all but disappear by this time next week and the country will be entering February in as close a situation of normality as it has been since march 2020.

And, in general, that has to be welcomed. The levels of ‘collateral damage’ have been constantly rising and many of the consequences will be with us for a long time to come.

It doesn’t mean that infections won’t still spread amongst the population and that some people won’t die attributed to the virus – but then needless deaths every year from flu had become accepted for decades. Whether the country will be able to keep on top of what is now being described as an endemic virus is another matter.

The circumstances which meant the virus was able to take hold in the first place in what boasts to be a civilised country are still in place. The health service is stretched to the utmost and making vaccination obligatory is likely to cause even more staff shortages in the coming months. This is all on top of a service that had been seriously under-funded for decades as successive British governments, of whatever political colour, had assisted in the growing privatisation of health in this country. Whatever the ‘reasons’ given for policy changes the ultimate result was more money going onto private hands.

At the time of writing the Buffoon is ‘on the ropes’ as his pathetic lies and excuses become weaker and more ‘revelations’ appear in the media. The fact that he would tell the vast majority of the population to follow certain rules and all his cronies would do what they wanted has been obvious from the very start. The crass situation of Dominic Cummings and his driving eye test is only one example of where the Buffoon considered that all he had to do was to bluff it out. The fact that Cummings is now going for the jugular shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all the Buffoon – after all that’s the society in which he has lived all his life.

Using the fact that the British population has the memory span of a may fly the Buffoon and his allies are trying to present the incompetent and blithering idiot (have you ever been forced to listen to him when he has to think on his feet – he can barely string two coherent words together, in this like the fascist Churchill who was very clever when he had time to think but not so good in responding when he knew he was in the wrong) as some ‘pandemic hero’.

Forgotten are the innumerable U-turns; the confusion that has accompanied virtually ever policy change; the failures to react in a coherent and organised manner at the beginning; the corruption that has accompanied the awarding of billions of pounds of contracts to friends and political supporters; the lack of any control and monitoring of any monies given out in an effort to mitigate the effects of all these failings and, still to this day, any real and coherent strategy to deal with this pandemic if it comes back to bite us or any other waiting around the corner.

Being generous with money that doesn’t cost you anything is hardly a difficult thing to do. And the fact that many of the people who still see the Buffoon as some sort of saviour in the last two years will come a cropper in the coming years as the bill demand to be paid – whether it’s a real debt that the country should pay is not something to go into here, but which is worth thinking about – should not be ignored.

And even if the sceptred isle is out of the worse that still doesn’t mean the rest of the world can say the same. Failings in providing protection to the vast majority of the world’s population will not just go away. The variants at the moment aren’t too threatening. It doesn’t mean the next one will be the same. Then complacency will take its toll in countries like the UK.

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

Covid jab offered to five to 11-year-old children in Ireland – and when one part of the sceptr’d isle ‘leads’ the rest will soon follow. They’ll be proposing to vaccinate babies in the womb next.

Vaccines for all every four to six months not needed. A couple of short quotes;

‘It really is not affordable, sustainable or probably even needed to vaccinate everyone on the planet every four to six months’ …. ‘We haven’t even managed to vaccinate everyone in Africa with one dose so we’re certainly not going to get to a point where fourth doses for everyone is manageable.’

Maidstone mother drives to Italy to get daughter jabbed – the child was probably taking a greater risk in being driven all that way than she would have been from the virus unvaccinated.

No need for a fourth covid jab yet.

Why people who refuse to get vaccinated should not have lesser healthcare rights.

Lack of trust in public figures linked to covid vaccine hesitancy.

…. and the rest of the world

As the vaccination programmes cover more and more of the population in the richer countries (reducing the age at which vaccinations are given and having an unlimited number of ‘booster’ vaccinations when a new variant appears) the rest of the world gets pushed further and further down the list of priorities.

Israel Omicron spike could bring herd immunity but with risks – and they are trying out a 4th vaccination whilst at the same time having no concern for the Palestinian population.

The global north’s vaccine charity is a sham.

Why isn’t the world vaccinated as omicron spreads like wildfire? Blame rich countries.

US science teacher arrested for vaccinating 17-year-old student.

Wealthy states and pharma companies catastrophically failed to ensure equal access to vaccines in 2021.

A Texas team comes up with a covid vaccine that could be a global game changer.

Omicron may reach millions before vaccines do – but that doesn’t mean race to vaccinate the world is over.

Profits Over People: Why weren’t the vaccine manufacturers nationalized?

The background to one strand of the covid vaccines

Halting progress and happy accidents: How mRNA vaccines were made.

The omicron variant

Faroe Islands super spreader event: why transmission among the triple-vaxxed shouldn’t alarm you.

Why does omicron appear to cause less severe disease than previous variants?

What are the symptoms of omicron?

Omicron: viral load can be at its highest at day five so cutting isolation period doesn’t make sense.

Where to go to catch covid

Here’s where (and how) you are most likely to catch covid.

The end in sight?

Britain ‘will be among first’ to emerge from covid pandemic.

End of Covid pandemic is ‘in sight’ but ‘difficult months ahead’.

Testing

How rapid tests changed the pandemic.

How to make sense of the UK’s new testing rules – this will likely to be very quickly out of date but it just goes to show how chaotic things are/were getting on for two years into the pandemic.

Other tactics to deal with covid

Covid is caused by a virus – so why are researchers treating it with antibiotics?

T-cells: the superheroes in the battle against omicron.

Mask wearing

Hundreds of maskless London Underground passengers fined.

Mask refusals in some of England’s secondary schools spark parents’ concern.

Poverty in Britain

Yet another report, this time by the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust and University of Bristol, demonstrates that it was the poorest in British society who have paid the biggest price for the pandemic. Although those more ‘well off’ were protected, by such schemes as furlough and support for the self-employed, those who were getting little before the beginning of 2020 have got even less in the two years since. The Summary and the Full Report.

Another report by the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust looks at the issue of young people having to live with their parents. There are some positives but also a lot of negatives – especially for the poorer section of society. Living with parents where there is no Bank of Mum and Dad – the Report.

70% of people in Scotland are worried about unaffordable energy bills in 2022.

New data shows covid will continue to have a negative financial impact on many UK households.

The cost of living crunch.

UK: Temporary accommodation violates children’s rights.

The Joseph Rowntree Trust has just published its latest report, UK Poverty 2022: The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK – the Findings; the Full Report.

Rising energy bills to ‘devastate’ poorest families.

The rich continue to get richer

Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled in pandemic.

Corruption in high places

Government fast track for ‘VIP’ PPE suppliers ruled unlawful by court – but, as with the so-called ‘Pandora’s Box’ revelations last year, little is likely to come of it.

The world gone mad

Texas teacher ‘locked covid-positive son in car boot

Collateral damage

Why this should come as a surprise is a surprise to me. After all the home is the most dangerous place. Thee were probably countless other, minor injuries,n not requiring hospitalisation, that have occurred in the last couple of years but which have not been, and never will be, recorded. Thousands needed hospital treatment after lock down DIY.

Growing numbers of people are seeking advice on mortgage arrears in Scotland – and, as always, that means the problem will be replicated in the other parts of the UK.

Covid fallout hit farmers hard – they need better mental health support.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – Charity warns of surge in cases of young children’s breathing illness this winter.

Languishing: what to do if you’re feeling restless, apathetic or empty.

The dominance of the covid pandemic over the last couple of years brings with it the danger that we forget that people are dying, in their millions, every year due to diseases and other reasons which are, in a ‘caring’ world, would be avoidable. The silent pandemic: drug-defying superbugs become a leading cause of death.

Antimicrobial resistance now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide.

Insurance CEO says deaths up 40% [in USA] among working age people, and it’s not just covid.

…. or not?

Lock down schooling: research from across the world shows reasons to be hopeful.

‘Life after covid’

Most people don’t want a return to normal – they want a fairer, more sustainable future.

The ‘good’ that has come from the pandemic

How covid-19 transformed genomics and changed the handling of disease outbreaks forever.

An underlying problem

What’s driving the UK’s shortage of medical doctors?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Secret cables reveal Britain interfered with elections in Chile

Allende - minutes before being killed

Allende – minutes before being killed

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Secret cables reveal Britain interfered with elections in Chile

Declassified Foreign Office files show that Britain conducted a covert propaganda offensive to stop Chilean leader Salvador Allende winning two democratic presidential elections – and helped prepare the ground for General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal military regime.

[The article reproduced below first appeared on the Declassified UK website on 22nd September 2020 but has only recently been brought to our attention. It’s typical of the society in Britain, which constantly bangs its ‘democracy’ drum that when facts are released that show the sham of that democracy then there is almost universal silence.

Some people might think that it is just the Tories whose foreign policy follows the same trajectory as British Imperialism did in the 19th century. After all it was Thatcher who pursued the obscene Malvinas War and she was also seen stroking the old fascist Pinochet’s thigh when he was detained under house arrest in England between October 1998 and March 2000 (whilst under investigation for crimes of genocide). Taking into consideration what is disclosed below – it was the Labour Government of Harold Wilson, 1964-70, that set up the anti-popular Secret Service Unit against the Chilean people – it should be no surprise that it was yet another Labour Minister (the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw) who gave the authorisation for Pinochet to be released back home to Chile.

Although the exact facts of the involvement of the Labour Government are new to us that doesn’t mean the news arrived as a shock. The foreign policies of the Labour Governments of 1945-1951 and 1964-1970 were only interrupted by the ‘thirteen years of Tory misrule’ – and even in that interim period the Labour Opposition rarely challenged the foreign policy stance of the Conservative Government.

Perhaps it’s worthwhile reminding readers of what has always been public knowledge about the anti-popular activities of the Labour Party in its foreign policy, both in and out of government. (There will surely be others which have yet to come to light.)

  • support (in all its forms) to the monarcho-fascists of Greece against the Partisans who had defeated the Nazis;
  • helped the transition from Japanese to French occupation of Indochina;
  • continued attempts at ‘regime change’ against the People’s Republic of Albania throughout their period in government 1945-51 – the challenge then being taken up by the Tories;
  • maintaining a military presence in the Middle East, one of the early examples of ‘poodle Britain’, a second class partner to the USA and looking after their mutual oil interests;
  • supported all the sentiments of Churchill’s anti-USSR ‘Iron Curtain’ speech of 1946;
  • eager early participants in what was to become NATO;
  • support for a Zionist Israel and the dispossession of Palestinian land in 1948;
  • sending of troops to Malaya in 1948;
  • sending troops to Korea in 1950;
  • giving the green light to Suharto in Indonesia in 1965 for the murder of hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants;
  • taking a weak stance against the Unilateral declaration of Independence by the white racist in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1965;
  • sitting on the fence during the time when the US were increasing their troop numbers in South Vietnam;
  • sending of British troops into Northern Ireland in 1969.

These are issues where Labour Governments were directly responsible for policy decisions, there were many other, such as support for British Forces in Kenya at the time of the revolt of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA) (Mau Mau Uprising), where they were merely enthusiastic spectators on the side lines.

And that’s not even touching the foreign policy of the Callaghan and Blair Governments.

These events should be even more in our thoughts as this year (2022) will see a Chilean President with a world view similar to Allende’s planning to take control of the government.]

Secret cables reveal Britain interfered with elections in Chile

Almost 50 years after the September 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically-elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, declassified Foreign Office documents reveal Britain’s role in destabilising the country.

Under the Labour government of Harold Wilson (1964-1970), a secret Foreign Office unit initiated a propaganda offensive in Chile aiming to prevent Allende, Chile’s leading socialist figure, winning power in two presidential elections, in 1964 and 1970.

The unit – the Information Research Department (IRD) – gathered information designed to damage Allende and lend legitimacy to his political opponents, and distributed material to influential figures within Chilean society.

The IRD also shared intelligence about left-wing activity in the country with the US government. British officials in Santiago assisted a CIA-funded media organisation which was part of extensive US covert action to overthrow Allende, culminating in the 1973 coup.

Anyone but Allende

A Foreign Office planning document written in 1964 had noted that Latin America was “a vital area in the Cold War and checking a Communist takeover here is at least as important a British national interest as negotiating trading and stepping up exports”.

The report added that the US was “anxious for the United Kingdom to do as much as possible in the propaganda field” in Latin America.

Several months before Chile’s 1964 presidential election, a British Cabinet Office unit called the Counter-subversion Committee’s Working Group on Latin America, advised the IRD that “it will be important to prevent significant gains by the extreme left” in Chile, “now and later”.

At this time, Allende was a presidential candidate in the election running as leader of the Frente de Acción Popular (Popular Action Front) against the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, who eventually won with 56% of the vote against Allende’s 39%.

The IRD initiated its propaganda offensive in Chile by covertly supporting Frei in the months leading up to the election. As Elizabeth Allott, a longstanding IRD officer, wrote shortly after Frei claimed victory, the unit had focused on “the distribution of our more serious material to reliable contacts and to securing the publication of certain press articles” critical of Allende, and favourable to Frei.

Allott had also proposed “SPA [special Political Action] with supporting action from the US” to split the left vote.

British planners viewed the 1964 election as a landmark success. “In Chile we surely have a rare opportunity”, wrote Allott: “If we believe our work in Latin America to be important, then there are surely few places which have a better claim on our resources and where there is such scope for us in both our negative and constructive roles.”

Leslie Glass, Assistant Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and former director-general of British Information Services, agreed. Writing days after the election, he noted that this was “a victory against the communists to press home” adding that there was now “a government to support whose policies, if carried out effectively, offer what is probably the best chance we have had in the continent of robbing the communists of their raison d’être”.

Frei ruled Chile for the following six years until the country went to the polls again in 1970. By this time, Allende was leader of a coalition grouping known as Popular Unidad (Popular Unity), which pledged to redistribute economic power in Chile.

Allende’s platform proposed to transform “the present economic structure, doing away with the power of foreign and national monopoly capital and of the latifundio [large agricultural estates] in order to initiate the construction of socialism”.

Allende’s policies of nationalisation posed a considerable threat to British and US interests, particularly in Chile’s major industry, copper, whose mines were substantially owned by US companies.

As Allende looked increasingly likely to win power, British propaganda operations intensified. “Chile is in the front line as far as communism in South America is concerned,” one IRD planner noted in 1969.

The IRD deployed a specialist field officer to Santiago during the late 1960s, whose operations focused directly on thwarting an Allende victory.

At the same time, the Foreign Office dispatched a labour attaché to Chile in order to monitor trade union activity, although the attaché was withdrawn before the 1970 election.

On 13 July 1970, with just weeks until the election, Allott informed British ambassador David Hildyard that “the IRD operation… has been concentrating on preventing an extreme left alliance from gaining power in the 1970 presidential elections, and on helping suitable organisations which are likely to continue in existence whatever happens at the elections”.

She added: “The IRD field officer… has very close contacts with specialist officials in the [Chilean] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, [redacted], and certain student organisations. As elsewhere in Latin America we can cover areas closed to the Americans.”

Allott also proposed to IRD chief Kenneth Crook that Britain train the Chilean military in “counter-subversion”. Notably, she referred to Britain’s previous training of the Brazilian dictatorship’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was later revealed to include lessons in torture techniques.

British efforts to stop Allende failed, and the Chilean presidential election in September 1970 brought to power the country’s first avowed socialist ever elected to office.

The Washington connection

British covert action in Chile was undertaken in collaboration with the US, whose role in destabilising the country has emerged in the decades since. Between 1962 and 1970, the CIA “undertook various propaganda activities” including “placements” of material “in radio and news media” in support of Frei and against Allende.

It also organised “spoiling operations” against Allende and engaged in a three-year campaign between 1970 and 1973 to politically “assassinate” him by funnelling “millions of dollars to strengthen opposition political parties”, according to a US Senate report.

IRD files show how, during the late 1960s, British planners shared strategic advice and intelligence with US officials. Though IRD planners cautioned the US against “possibly taking a too extreme line” in its anti-communist propaganda, they nonetheless provided US officers with a list of Chilean journalists who could produce desirable content.

The UK and US also shared information on left-wing activity in Chile, an arrangement which continued until at least March 1973, the declassified British files show.

Allende was overthrown in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, the head of the Chilean military, on 11 September 1973, to widespread international condemnation. His regime quickly became one of Latin America’s most repressive in modern history as thousands of political opponents were herded into Chile’s national football stadium or secret detention centres.

Alongside much more extensive US covert action, British officials played a covert role in preparing the ground for Pinochet’s takeover in alliance with the US.

In October 1970, British officers in Santiago had covertly facilitated a CIA-funded news agency, Forum World Features (FWF), “to arrange for special coverage of the Chilean situation”. One month after Allende’s election, British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home had instructed the embassy in Santiago to “respond to any approach” from FWF after its chief, Brian Crozier, requested assistance for a series of “behind the scenes” articles on Allende’s programme.

FWF played a significant role in the propaganda onslaught against Allende. In December 1973, three months after Pinochet’s coup, FWF journalist Robert Moss published Chile’s Marxist Experiment – a CIA-commissioned book which denied Washington’s role in the coup, and laid the blame at the feet of Allende.

The Pinochet regime purchased 10,000 copies of the book “to be given away as part of a propaganda package” and Crozier later recalled that Moss’s work “played its part in the necessary destabilisation of the Allende regime”.

Foreign Office official Hugh Carless agreed, writing in December 1973 that the book “helped us to strike a balance” on Chile.

Rory Cormac, professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, told Declassified: “These recently declassified documents are significant because they reveal British special political action outside of traditional areas of priority. As its material capabilities declined, Britain turned to covert action to help maintain its global role.”

Pinochet: ‘a staunch, true friend’ of Britain

The Conservative government under Edward Heath (1970-74) rushed to give diplomatic recognition to Pinochet’s new regime. Foreign Office files show that British planners in Santiago and London immediately set about conducting good relations with the military rulers as their repression increased.

By 1974, and under public pressure due to Pinochet’s human rights abuses, the Wilson government, which had returned to power, applied sanctions on Chile, involving an arms embargo and the removal of the British ambassador in Santiago. These were continued by the subsequent Labour government under James Callaghan.

After Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, however, Britain resumed friendly relations with Chile, selling arms that could be used for internal repression while training hundreds of Chilean soldiers. Thatcher went on to call Pinochet a “staunch, true friend” of Britain.

After the fall of Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990, a truth commission confirmed that during his 17-year rule more than 40,000 people were tortured, 3,200 were killed or “disappeared” and more than 200,000 fled into exile.

Though Labour and Conservative policy differed towards Pinochet, the recently declassified record sheds a new light on the claim that Labour sought to promote an ethical foreign policy towards Chile. It was under Wilson’s first administration that Britain’s covert propaganda offensive against Allende began.

British officials not only welcomed Chile’s dictatorship in 1973 – they spent a decade helping to create the conditions that brought it to power, and played a material role in destroying Chilean democracy for a generation.

About the author

John McEvoy is an independent journalist who has written for International History Review, The Canary, Tribune Magazine, Jacobin and Brasil Wire.

22 September 2020

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