The Role of France During the Falklands War

A very nice map from Stratfor, about the remainings of the British Empire at the South Atlantic Ocean. These are small islands, almost inhabited, which give the English and their allies the opportunity of having some military presence in the South Atlantic Ocean. They also give the English a claim on future oil and natural gas discoveries, and also ownership of a part of Antarctica, which is the only unexplored continent on earth.

I guess the most important British islands are the Falklands. The British control the Falklands since 1833, but the Argentineans never dropped their claims over the Falklands. In 1982, the Argentineans invaded the islands, and the Argentinean-English War broke out, with the British regaining control of the islands in the end.

Map 1 British Territories in the South Atlantic Ocean

Map of British Islands in South Atlantic Ocean

France played a very important role in this war. It was with the French Exocet missiles that the Argentineans managed to destroy Sheffield, a British destroyer, and also Atlantic Conveyor, a British commercial ship that was requisitioned by the British Navy during the Falklands War.

As you can read at the following BBC article, titled “How France helped both sides in the Falklands War”, March 2012, France’s official position was to support England during the war. However, the French ambassador in England was calling the then Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher, an “imperialist”. At the same time, a French technical team was in Argentina helping the Argentinean army.

It must be mentioned that the special relationship between England and the United States in North Atlantic was something that annoyed the French. The “special” relationship was one of the main reasons that the national socialist leader of France, Charles de Gaulle, withdrew France from NATO in 1966. De Gaulle wanted France to have better relationships with the Soviets, for the Soviets to support the French in their disputes with the British.

With the help of Argentina, and maybe Brazil, France could become more assertive in the South Atlantic Ocean. However, France had officially to support England, because France has many small islands around the globe too, as you can see at the following map from Wikipedia’s “Overseas departments and territories of France”.

Map 2 French Oversees Territories

Map of French Oversees Territories

Therefore, it was not in the French interests to challenge the British ownership of the Falklands. But maybe it was in the French interests for England to lose the war.

Map 3 North and South Atlantic Ocean

Map of Falklands Islands

At the following Wikipedia map, you can see the French claims over Antarctica (blue color). Moreover, France has military bases or military presence in many countries at the western coasts of Africa i.e. Gabon, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal.

Map 4 Territorial Claims Over Antarctica

Map of Antarctica

Most African countries were French or British colonies at the beginning of the 20th century. France was controlling West Africa (red color) and  Britain was controlling East Africa (blue colour), as you can see at the following map.

Map 5 French and British Colonies in Africa

Map of French and English Colonies

I must also say that the dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet, was supporting Margaret Thatcher during the Falkland War because Chile and Argentina have territorial disputes too.

For more details about the territorial disputes over Antarctica see also “The Territorial Claims over Antarctica”

“The British Territories in the South Atlantic”, October 2015

“How France helped both sides in the Falklands War”, March 2012

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