Foreign Relations of the United States, 1981–1988, Volume XIII, Conflict in the South Atlantic, 1981–1984

  • Alexander R. Wieland
General Editor:
  • Adam M. Howard


This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the foreign policy decision making of the administration of President Ronald Reagan. This volume addresses the administration’s response to the crisis and 1982 war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the South Atlantic island territories of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands. It charts the development of the Anglo-Argentine sovereignty dispute which, from the U.S. perspective, was transformed by the Argentine landings on the Falklands (Malvinas) and South Georgia in March–April 1982 from a persistent, though peripheral, boundary issue to a formidable diplomatic challenge, with geopolitical implications that threatened to transcend the narrow geography of the South Atlantic. This violent clash between a powerful, if problematic, regional partner and one of the United States’ closest allies, prompted a further clash within the U.S. foreign policymaking establishment as administration officials balanced the costs of the conflict for U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere against the risks of undermining the Western Alliance.

The volume documents the intense diplomatic efforts, undertaken largely by Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., to broker a peaceful resolution to the conflict before it escalated further and, when this proved unsuccessful, to manage the outcome of the war and limit its damage. Moreover, it also looks at the war’s aftermath and the U.S. perception of its impact, U.S. postwar relations with the belligerents, and the conflict’s damaging effect on U.S.-Latin American relations. In doing so, the volume also examines the significant influence exerted by the lingering Falklands (Malvinas) sovereignty dispute upon the Reagan administration’s attempts to normalize political, economic, and military relations with Argentina between the end of the war and the re-establishment of civilian government in December 1983.