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1982 Apr 13 Tu
Archive (Rentschler MSS)

Falklands: Jim Rentschler diary (Haig second London visit concludes) [US close to abandoning mediation; US Embassy in Buenos Aires readied for evacuation]

Document type: Declassified documents
Document kind: Diary
Venue: -
Source: Thatcher Archive (copy of the text per the late Ambassador Rentschler)
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Jim Rentschler was the NSC official responsible for European matters, who handled the Falklands for the White House throughout the crisis. He gave a photocopy of the original diary to the Margaret Thatcher Foundation for publication in 2003. The full Falklands diary can be read here as single text.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 387 words
Themes: Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Foreign policy (USA)

Tuesday 13 April 1982

We're finally wrapping it, but not until five this afternoon. And we will never know the exact time of departure until some thirty minutes before it comes due. The first part of the day is mired in extreme pessimism; Haig's phone discussion with his Argentine opposite number late last night left very little room for maneuver, and while he is over at Number Ten for one last round of talks with Maggie alone, his staff crashes on a press conference/wrap-up contingency which suspends the US diplomatic process and essentially puts the blame on Argentina. This may be the lowest point of the whole project, dramatized by the FLASH from B.A. which puts the Embassy's crypto files and equipment "two hours from burn" and by the clandestine reporting we have received from inside the S.I.A., Argentina's goon-ridden security service which has already targeted a number of Embassy personnel who are, in that entity's quaint parlance, "to be disappeared" (in the same way that Stavisky was "suicided"). [This is a reference to the murky death in Jan 1934 of the politically well-conected French embezzler Alexandre Stavisky, a Madoff-type character who was officially declared to have shot himself. The bullet, however, had apparently travelled some distance, leading some to theorise sarcastically that he must have had a "long arm"]. By the time Haig gets back to the Churchill later this morning, however, the roller-coaster is in the ascendant again: a call from Costa Mendez suggests a tiny crack of Argentine daylight - language from some 1960 General Assembly resolution on decolonization which the UK had not voted against, merely abstained on, and which fudges the basic sovereignty/self-determination issues - and Foreign Secretary Pym is on his way over to the hotel to confer with Haig on this development. Who knows what's going to happen next? Pym, when we next meet him in the noisy little corner room at the end of the corridor, overlooking the rush of Upper Berkeley Street traffic, seems open to exploring the Argentine move, and at the very least we may have bought some additional time (this is the message I give Judge Clark, whose phone call summons me out of Haig's meeting; he will be briefing the President a few minutes from now and needs an update on the whole crisis). [fo.163 begins]

Goodby to Britain. … Once aloft, Haig's core group crouches around his table while he strategizes out loud on next steps, which look now to include another trip to B.A. two days from now. Vamos á ver … "[Let's see" …]

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