Archive (Rentschler MSS)

Falklands: Jim Rentschler diary (NSC meeting decides on 'tilt' to UK) ["The moment of South Atlantic truth is upon us"]

Document type: Declassified documents
Source: Thatcher Archive (copy of the text per the late Ambassador Rentschler)
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: 457 words
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Defence (Falklands)

Friday 30 April 1982
Falklands/Malvinas postscript

If ever a ship was in the sand, Haig's "peace shuttle" is it. The moment of South Atlantic truth is upon us this morning, and while I derive some faint satisfaction that a Reagan-chaired NSC comes down on the policy option I favor, that feeling ain't gonna do much for our interests in the Hemisphere. The discussion in the Cabinet Room is desultory, with future historians unlikely to extract any zingers from the verbatim I prepared later in the day (with the possible exception of Jeane Kirkpatrick's half-assed idea that "The Argentines will do anything to avoid war, they don't want it, they'll slip out of it, I would even anticipate a UN démarche which will settle the issue this weekend"; to which the President responds "Wouldn't it be nice if, after all these years, the UN actually did something to promote peace?"). There are a number of specific actions which emerge from this morning's exchange, and are you ready for this? - there is even a decision to make them a matter of permanent record - surely an unprecedented move for this NSC! Hence the draft NSDD I do up for circulation to principals entitled "U.S. Actions In The South Atlantic Crisis":

"Pursuant to the decisions reached at the meeting of the National Security Council of April 30, 1982, we are taking, effective immediately, the following actions in connection with the dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland Islands:

  • Issuance of an NSC-approved press statement which summarizes the U.S. position in the South Atlantic crisis and includes an explicit pro-UK tilt and the announcement of concrete steps underscoring US determination not to condone the use of unlawful force to resolve disputes.
  • The suspension of all military exports to Argentina. This action covers deliveries [fo.178 begins of all items in the pre-1977 - i.e., pre-Humphrey-Kennedy - FMS pipeline, primarily affecting spare parts in the amount of $3.9 million; it also covers the issuance of export licenses for Munitions List items (which will affect non-government as well as government end-users, thereby reaching a category not previously covered by Humphrey-Kennedy).
  • The withholding of certification of Argentine eligibility for military sales (which includes the US decision not to act on license requests for dual-use items and related COCOM-type material).
  • The suspension of new Export-Import Bank credits, insurance, and guarantees;
  • The suspension of Commodity Credit Corporation guarantees (which affects agricultural products worth approximately $2 million).
  • A private warning to Argentina that the measures announced do not encompass the full range of economic sanctions which the US has at its disposal and which could be applied depending on circumstances (note: under existing statutory proscriptions, third-country transfers of munitions and related items are already covered)."

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