320. Message From the Commander in Chief, U.S. Southern Command (Nutting) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Jones), the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (Allen), the Commandant of the Marine Corps (Barrow), the Chief of Staff of the Army (Meyer), and the Chief of Naval Operations (Hayward)1

Nutting sends. Subject: Falklands/Malvinas Crisis.

Ref A: USCINCSO msg 011905Z Jun 82.

Ref B: [less than 1 line not declassified] Jun 82 0238.

Ref C: AmEmbassy Buenos Aires msg 021824Z Jun 82 3408.2

1. (S/NF) In the Falklands/Malvinas crisis, I believe strongly that US interests demand that neither party be annihilated or humiliated. Argentina should not be placed in an even more desperate situation than prevails today. Many people forecast an internal Argentine crisis very likely resulting in a new government. An internal power vacuum would very likely be filled by Peronistas and any change at this time provides an opportunity for increased Soviet access and influence. I submit that General Galtieri is undoubtedly a better government head for us to deal with than any likely alternative.

2. (S/NF) [less than 1 line not declassified] in which reported on the specific message sent to us regarding the Argentine junta’s estimate of the situation. [less than 1 line not declassified] further recognized the possible futility of the [less than 1 line not declassified] of communication and proposed for your consideration an initial message which might be transmitted.

3. (C/NF) I call Ref B to your attention as an additional [less than 1 line not declassified] indicating that several Argentine military officers believe that the fighting will be over within a week and call for the US [Page 666] to help find a way out, diverting a total British kill which will plunge Argentina into chaos. Ambassador Shlaudeman comments that this 31 May conversation at least opens a line of military-to-military communication that could prove useful to the future.

4. (S/NF) I call [less than 1 line not declassified] to your attention as a new [1 line not declassified] appealing for US intercession to arrange an “armistice” now. [less than 1 line not declassified] is presented as a possible indicator of wider defeatist sentiment in the Argentine military. The [less than 1 line not declassified] state that USCINCSO Nutting should be apprised of the desire of [less than 1 line not declassified] to quit, so that he could communicate it to Washington, invoking some sort of political intercession with the belligerence to halt the fighting now.

5. (S/NF) I acknowledge that the thesis that things will be worse if Argentina is defeated is not proven. It is equally possible that a sound defeat might bring the Argentines to their senses. Letting them down easily might permit them to continue down the self-destructive path they have been following. Nevertheless, our strategic interests in Latin America very likely will only be further damaged by continuation of the present course. I urge that:

— We immediately cease all actions which have a negative political, economic, or military impact on Argentina.

— Convince British authorities that further prosecution of the battle will mainly result in grave strategic damage to the Americas.

— Renew US Government efforts to devise a formula which will be face-saving for both sides.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330–84–0003, Argentina (June–Sept) 1982. Secret; Immediate; Noforn.
  2. None of the reference messages were found.