Political perception and strategic miscalculation: Argentina's role in the Malvinas/Falklands War

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Committee Member

Jaime Suchlicki - Committee Chair


Scant attention has been paid in the United States to geopolitical considerations in the outbreak and conduct of the Malvinas/Falklands War. Yet these considerations are paramount in understanding Argentine motivations for regaining the islands, and the nation's subsequent conduct of military operations during the war with Great Britain.The dissertation first explores the historical roots of the dispute and the strategic importance of the islands for Great Britain during the two world wars. It then proceeds to analyze the geopolitical importance of the islands for Argentina, and its relationship with other geopolitical concerns in the Southern Cone. The actual outbreak of war is then explored together with subsequent military operations and the impact of geopolitical considerations in the conduct of these operations. The political considerations of both Great Britain and Argentina are also discussed. Attention is given particularly to the motivations prompting Great Britain to send the task force, and the divisions within the Argentine military. The study concludes with an analysis of the war's impact on the region and the role played by the United States.Conclusions reached indicate first that: Argentina's motivations for seizing the islands were primarily geopolitical in nature. Second, while internal difficulties had a lesser impact on Argentina's motivation for invasion, they were very important in Great Britain's decision to send the Task Force. Third, geopolitical considerations, particularly the attitude of Chile, hampered Argentine military operations during the war. Fourth, Argentina misread the attitude of both Great Britain and the United States in its plan to occupy the islands. Fifth, the war raises serious questions regarding the ability of the United States to predict the actions of Southern Cone nations, and sixth, the value of geopolitical analysis in predicting the actions of these states has not received enough attention.


History, Latin American; History, Modern; Political Science, International Law and Relations

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