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The Thatcher Legacy

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  • Phoenix_rising

    Ta Mok and Pol Pot are dead too.

    But her government’s legacy of doing what the US was too goddamned exhausted to continue in SE Asia, arming and training the Khmer Rouge to fight Vietnamese Communists more effectively, lives on, in the rolling clusterf*ck that is Cambodia today.

  • Uncle Kvetch

    On apartheid, she was, for all intents and purposes, for it

    Was she different from Reagan on this?

    • Uncle Kvetch

      I ask because “constructive engagement” was also the buzzword in DC for “kick it down the road.”

      • You are quite right. One of the weird things about our political discourse is that conservatives constantly crow about the things they were supposedly “right” about– the Soviet threat, free market economics (at least as compared to extremely statist models like Soviet Communism), etc. But nobody ever mentions all the things they were dead wrong about. Nelson Mandela was one of the big ones. Due to a combination of colonialist zeal, affection for Thatcher and Britain, and pure racism, conservatives convinced themselves that the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was full of commies and that if they took over South Africa there would be all sorts of violent reprisals against whites and a bunch of corruption. They were wrong about everything in South Africa.

        (Another example of this phenomenon is that rarely is it brought up what Republicans predicted about what would happen to the economy if the 1993 Clinton tax increases passed.)

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          And the neocons were actually wrong about communism, too. The whole point of Jeane Kirkpatrick’s totalitarian-authoritarian distinction was that totalitarian systems were incapable of internal reform. Within a decade of Kirkpatrick’s ideas becoming right-wing dogma, the Soviet bloc had begun to collapse from within.

          • DrDick

            It is also the case that their collapse had more to do with latitude and climate making it difficult for the Soviet Union to feed itself and excessive spending on defense and the military diverting resources from productive uses (something the neocons supported here).

            • The reason the USSR could not feed itself had nothing to do with climate. The Russian Empire managed to be a major grain exporter and it had the same geography. Ukraine and the Black Earth regions of Russia are quite fertile as are a number of other regions of the former USSR. Rather the USSR could not feed itself for the same reason other socialist states like China, Vietnam, and Cambodia could not. The collective farm system was a failure. Its lack of incentives as well as other structural problems was the main reason for the need to import food after 1964 to avert famine. For instance Vietnam went from being on the brink of famine in 1983 to being the third largest exporter of rice in 1986. It did not change its geography. Instead it basically dismantled the collective farming system.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Not to mention that their argument was that the Soviet Union was an economic powerhouse that was about to swamp the United States.

          • The primary reason the Soviet Union fell apart was that it could not be reformed by Gorbachev. I would argue that having stopped the reform process under Khrushchev that the Soviet government essentially made significant reform decades later impossible. The system was too brittle by that time to withstand significant changes without completely breaking apart.

        • wjts

          Due to a combination of colonialist zeal, affection for Thatcher and Britain, and pure racism, conservatives convinced themselves that the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was full of commies and that if they took over South Africa there would be all sorts of violent reprisals against whites and a bunch of corruption.

          Probably also important: fear of a reprise of the Rhodesian Bush War in South Africa and loss of an important partner in the proxy war against the Soviet Union and Cuba in Angola.

          • Dave

            Well, they were right about the corruption, though that was probably due to the lack of actual communism in the post-apartheid regime…

            • South Africa’s government isn’t nearly as corrupt as conservatives portray it as, especially compared to its neighbors.

              South Africa has all the problems that a large, isolated, multiracial democracy with a colonial legacy is going to have. And those are serious. But it also has the rule of law, a functioning legal system, democratic self-governance, and plenty of growth and opportunity. They just hosted a pretty successful World Cup.

              It’s a pretty damned well-functioning country, especially when placed in context.

              • I don’t think there is a lot of corruption in Botswana or Namibia compared to South Africa and they both are neighbors of the RSA. Namibia is also a multiracial society that formerly was repressed by the apartheid regime. But, it seems to be doing a lot better than South Africa in many areas.

                • Well, South Africa’s about 1 1/2 times as prosperous as Namibia. Botswana is more prosperous, but I don’t think you can compare a country with a population of just 2 million people and a pretty undemocratic, PRI-style political system to South Africa.

                • Anonymous

                  I thought Botswana was pretty democratic. I know that the same party has governed there since independence, but I thought it was more similar to Japan than Mexico. (ie, a democratic system with fair elections, but one in which one party keeps wining).

                  For that matter, the ANC is unlikely to lose an election for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean South Africa is undemocratic.

        • Actually in South Africa the SACP was closely associated with the ANC and the Soviets and Cubans provided a considerable amount of assistance to the movement. The same thing was true regarding SWAPO in Namibia. But, while the ANC and SWAPO mouthed a lot of Marxist-Leninist rhetoric when fighting against the apartheid regime they introduced neo-liberal capitalist economic systems when they took power. In hindsight it looks like the African liberation movements were merely mouthing Marxist-Leninist nostrums to get Soviet arms and other support against the apartheid regime. Especially since the West was not going to provide them with any support. There probably was a time when Mandela and Nujoma were serious about imposing a Soviet style system just as the MPLA and FRELIMO attempted to do in Angola and Mozambique. But, by the time they took power in the 1990s they were solid supporters of capitalist economics. It is one of the key reasons why first Botha and then DeKlerk chose to negotiate with Mandela while he was still in prison. They knew that if he was in control that White wealth would be protected in exchange for granting majority political rule.

          • Actually in South Africa the SACP was closely associated with the ANC and the Soviets and Cubans provided a considerable amount of assistance to the movement. The same thing was true regarding SWAPO in Namibia. But, while the ANC and SWAPO mouthed a lot of Marxist-Leninist rhetoric when fighting against the apartheid regime they introduced neo-liberal capitalist economic systems when they took power. In hindsight it looks like the African liberation movements were merely mouthing Marxist-Leninist nostrums to get Soviet arms and other support against the apartheid regime.

            When Mandela came to the US after being freed, he went on Phil Donahue’s show and said EXACTLY this. He said he understood all the legitimate criticisms of the Soviets and Castro and Arafat, but said that they supported the ANC and the anti-apartheid movement while much of the West did not.

            • Anonymous

              Yup.

              “People say the Communists were using us. Who’s to say we weren’t using them?”

    • DrDick

      Zombie Thatcher will now join Zombie Reagan in devouring the brains of conservatives everywhere.

      • NickT

        That’s a pretty low-nutrient diet.

        • DrDick

          Not to mention pretty meager pickings.

  • Linnaeus

    Corey Robin made a good point about Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” remark – conservatarianism isn’t about hyperindividualism but is really about establishing a feudal-like “archipelago” of private governments.

    • Dave

      If you think she had any ideas that might rise even half so highfalutin’ as that, you need to look again.

      • Linnaeus

        Well, certainly she wouldn’t put it that way, but Robin’s arguing that that’s the end result.

  • Ronan

    I don’t think it’s reasonmable to claim she was ‘for’ apartheid any more than it’s fair to day FDR was for segregation. She certainly had sympathy for SA whites, and thought in much the same way (in FP, racially, about British exceptionalism etc) as you’d expect someone (a Tory especially) from her generation to think, but saying she was for it is a little much (And her arguments against sanctions, that they would affect the poorest South Africans most, is a legit and coherent position)

    • I think it’s perfectly fair. The big mistake the right made, here and there, was assuming that if blacks took over the country there would be violence and incompetent government and communism. They thought Mandela was the devil, and in fact he was a Gandhi-like figure. (Of course, Thatcher’s hero Churchill made the same racist mistake about Gandhi!)

      Now, obviously, in 1981 you couldn’t come out and say you favored racial segregation. But if in practice you reject the policies to throw the segregationists out of power, because you think all sorts of bad things will happen if integrationists are put into power, yeah, you are favoring it.

      • Carbon Man

        And they turned out to be pretty much right about how the ANC governed. Incompetence, violence, and Marxism all arrived swiftly enough.

        The ANC isn’t much better than apartheid. South Africa is completely fucked now.

        • Yeah, self-determination and liberty are for suckers I suppose.

          • Another Halocene Human

            Not to mention equal rights for glbt people.

        • NickT

          No, racist white South Africans are moderately fucked. Which is pretty much what they deserve.

          Try harder.

          • burritoboy

            I’m not even sure racist white South Africans have gotten moderately fucked – they don’t have a major political party anymore, but what else did they lose with the loss of apartheid? I suppose there’s a number of apartheid-related jobs they lost – there’s no longer cop jobs where the main requirement is that you are the kind of person who actively likes breaking black people’s fingers. One would hope that the number even of extremely racist white South Africans who would see that as their life’s vocation would be vanishingly small.

            • Actually according to Francis B Nyamnjoh who is currently at CODESRIA in Dakar racist South African cops still exist. Only now not all of them are White and the victims are now mostly Black African migrants from places like Zimbabwe and Mozambique rather than South African citizens.

              See Francis B Nyamnjoh, Insiders & Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa (London: Zed Books, 2006).

              • burritoboy

                Oh, no doubt. There’s still plenty of “violent brutal cop” jobs in South Africa, but there’s no longer a job that’s “exclusively white cops whose task is explicitly to torture black people”.

                • But, there are cops who do torture Black African migrants who have been racialized as “Makwerekwere.” This is not as different as you seem to think since there were Black cops that also tortured Blacks under apartheid, particularly in the Bantustans like Bophuthatswana. What has changed is that there are a lot more Black cops and racism is now directed towards the “Makwerekwere” rather than Black South Africans.

          • DrDick

            Last I heard, racist white South Africans still own and run most of the major businesses in SA, as well as most of the best farmland.

            • NickT

              Hence: ‘moderately’.

              • DrDick

                For all values of “moderately fucked” = “hardly inconvenienced at all”.

            • Actually as a result of the end of sanctions they now own and run a lot major businesses in other African countries. They for instance own MTN one of the largest mobile phone networks here in Ghana.

        • Malaclypse

          Factual citation notably absent.

        • And they turned out to be pretty much right about how the ANC governed. Incompetence, violence, and Marxism all arrived swiftly enough.

          The ANC isn’t much better than apartheid. South Africa is completely fucked now.

          I usually don’t flat out call people racist, but the people who say this are racists.

          First of all, given there’s a black majority in the country and they are clearly better off with no apartheid, that alone settles the issue. The only way you can conclude the country is worse off is by only considering whites.

          Second of all, in actuality South Africa has had a number of fair elections, has a growing economy, hosted a successful world cup, decommissioned its nuclear weapons and is now a good citizen of the world community, etc.

          Basically, there’s an element on the right that just assumes black people are stupid and can’t competently rule a country. It’s the White Man’s Burden. That’s what this has always been all about.

          • Before someone says it, I don’t generally flat out call commenters on the Internet racist.

            Obviously I have no objection to calling politicians racist.

          • While overall I would say things are much better in South Africa than they were under apartheid there has been increasing poverty and economic inequality in South Africa since Mandela stepped down. There is also the fact that violent crime especially rape and with it the threat of HIV is a real problem. Many people here in Ghana fear going to South Africa because violent crime is so prevalent there. It is one of the few industrialized societies that has considerably more violent crime than the US and that is hard to do. There is no doubt that it leads the African continent in violent crime by a long shot. Accra for instance compared to US or even European cities its size has comparatively very little violent crime.

            • I don’t think it can possibly lead the African continent in violent crime. Johannesburg, for all of its problems, is not as unsafe as Mogadishu.

              But yes, there is a very severe crime rate. And some pretty significant social problems.

              Still, blacks, at the very least, are better off now. And it’s worth noting that South Africa’s pre-apartheid crime rate didn’t count most of the violence against black people.

              • Cody

                I suspect “violent crime” doesn’t count be shot, kidnapped, or raped by an opposing military (read rebel) force.

            • divadab

              Perhaps because Ghana has the highest adult usage of cannabis in the world – something like 27% of adults are cheeba smokers.

        • Hogan

          Violence you say?! Appalling. If only they could be more like us.

          • Carbon Man

            Capetown is literally the rape capital of the world.

            • rea

              Literally? Rape is now its own country?

              • Malaclypse

                No, I think he is saying that Capetown is the center of a One-World Government centered around rape.

                That, or he’s just a moron.

            • I thought that was Arizona…

      • While Gandhi had at one time been active in South Africa, the ANC and Mandela did not follow his strategy. Umkhonto We Sizwe (the armed wing of the ANC) was dedicated to armed struggle and the attack on the SASOL plants was not in any way an act of pacific non-violence. While strikes and other tactics proved more important in ultimately ending apartheid, Mandela personally always refused to renounce the option of armed struggle because he understood that it gave real force to the non-violent parts of the struggle. The fact is that violence and the threat of violence played a very important part in a number of African liberation movements including that led by the ANC in South Africa. Back during apartheid nobody in the ANC represented the organization as a Gandhian pacifist movement. It was presented as a revolutionary movement for the liberation of South Africans from the apartheid regime.

        • Mandela was a Gandhi-LIKE figure in that he didn’t bear any ill will towards the white South Africans who oppressed him. He was an amazingly conciliatory figure.

          I do realize that the ANC– quite justifiably– sponsored violence against the evil South African regime. (Although Gandhi wasn’t completely pure either by that standard– he certainly was at least aware of allies who were using violence in the struggle for Indian independence movement as well.)

        • ajay

          Back during apartheid nobody in the ANC represented the organization as a Gandhian pacifist movement. It was presented as a revolutionary movement for the liberation of South Africans from the apartheid regime.

          The Indian independence movement, of course, wasn’t entirely pacifist either. There were hundreds of bombings and assassinations throughout the first half of the 20th century – not to mention an entire Indian National Army in WW2, raised from Indian POWs, allied with the Japanese, one of whose formations was called the Gandhi Brigade. (The INA wasn’t very good. After a few defeats, the Japanese forcibly disarmed them and turned them into a labour and transport formation.)

    • FDR needed the votes of segregationists. Thatcher didn’t need the votes of apartheid-supporting Boers.

      • It’s also worth noting that it’s actually perfectly legitimate to blame FDR somewhat for favoring segregation, given that later Democratic politicians (and you can really just look at Truman here, who desegregated the armed forces and called for civil rights laws, and not get to LBJ) were able to make progress on civil rights and risk the ire of the solid South. The fact that Truman survived a challenge from Strom Thurmond strongly suggests that FDR, a more effective and popular politician, could have as well. He didn’t care enough about black people to try.

        • And how much legislation did Truman get through Congress.

          And how about those veto overrides, like on Taft-Hartley?

          C’mon, what you’re saying is simplistic to the extreme.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Oh sure, FDR could have come out against segregation, as long as he didn’t care about getting any of the New Deal passed. This is really silly.

          • I think we’re operating on something like that 7 second delay they use on radio.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Look, FDR should have just shoved a racially egalitarian welfare state and civil rights legislation right down Congress’s throat. It totally would have worked, just like the court-packing plan and the 1938 elections.

              • Seeing a lot of presentism on this thread.

          • Scott:

            There are a lot of intermediate positions in terms of racial issues. FDR never really was interested in trying to find them.

            Look, a liberal hero was probably a big-time racist. You may be right that this helped get the New Deal past and is therefore excusable, but that’s very different from saying he actually cared about black people.

            • What’s your evidence he was a racist? The fact that he married known racist Elanor? That he failed to do the obvious, and get rid of the southern Segregationist committee chairs by dissolving Congress? That the five justices he appointed who were still on the STOCUS voted against Brown v Board?

              • My evidence that he was a racist is that he could have done a lot of things through executive orders and rhetorical support for desegregation, as Truman did, and did not do those things.

                Not caring about black people makes you a racist just like hating them does. And who he married doesn’t count– lots of people in those days had more progressive wives.

                • And none of those things would come with political costs, which is why Truman had such a terrific legislative record, like when Southern Democrats were the difference in passing his national health care bill and blocking the Taft-Hartley amendments to the NLRA!

                  You’re right, everything is easy!

                • Scott Lemieux

                  My evidence that he was a racist is that he could have done a lot of things through executive orders and rhetorical support for desegregation

                  Sure, if you think that all of the legislative achievements of the New Deal should have been traded for “rhetorical support” that would have accomplished nothing.

                  I’m not sure what to call a politics centered entirely around onanistic moral preening, but it’s certainly not “progressive” in any meaningful sense.

                • Also interesting that the one obvious case where FDR has almost no defense hasn’t been brought up, because the internment of the Japanese isn’t a way to equate Thatcher and FDR.

                • sibusisodan

                  Not caring about black people makes you a racist just like hating them does.

                  Could you walk me through the reasoning behind that statement, please? It seems to be rather obviously not true, because of the meanings of words.

                • Malaclypse

                  Could you walk me through the reasoning behind that statement, please? It seems to be rather obviously not true, because of the meanings of words.

                  It seems to me that is you actively help white people, while ignoring black people, that is racist, even if not motivated by hate.

                • sibusisodan

                  It seems to me that is you actively help white people, while ignoring black people, that is racist, even if not motivated by hate.

                  I agree it can have racist outcomes – and did.

                  I’m uncomfortable with saying it makes one racist just like someone who actively hates. The two are not equivalent.

                • Malaclypse

                  I’m uncomfortable with saying it makes one racist just like someone who actively hates. The two are not equivalent.

                  And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take.

              • burritoboy

                Well, I do think Dilan has a point, but I’m not sure that it’s the point Dilan wants made. I would argue that destruction of American apartheid had to happen sometime. Yes, FDR probably could have accelerated that destruction, but I would argue that there would have been one of two outcomes:

                1. FDR would have been severely weakened to the point that he would not have been able to fight WWII or the Great Depression. He simply didn’t have enough political capital to take on all three causes simultaneously.

                or 2. FDR would have essentially had to operate outside democratic norms (for a certain amount of time). There was no effective way (LBJ and Truman couldn’t find a way either) to pursue civil rights in a serious without taking a massive political hit within the US democracy. The only way out of it would have been to move outside of democracy (as then – and now- understood): a purge of the upper levels of American White Southerners, probably some sort of ethnic cleansing of the lower classes of American White Southerners, reassignment of Southern real property to the actual (African-American) inhabitants. Now, I don’t have much problem with that program, but there’s no way FDR could have done it without effectively becoming a dictator. At minimum, a lot of the upper political class of American White Southerners has to rendered politically powerless (the nicest conceivable way would have been by exiling them) and the lower classes of American White Southerners has to be destroyed as a political entity (again, the nicest way would have been by geographic dispersal – essentially ethnic cleansing).

                • James E. Powell

                  I think the best evidence for the “massive political hit” you suggest FDR avoided is the “massive political hit” that the Democratic Party (and liberal politics generally) suffered, and still suffers from, when LBJ finally took action on civil rights.

                  Those who suggest FDR could have taken on Jim Crow and survived are naive or delusional.

                • Worth pointing out, btw, that the potential rival FDR most worried about was Huey Long, and we can be pretty sure he wouldn’t have pushed desegregation.

        • cpinva

          “He didn’t care enough about black people to try.”

          possibly true, i haven’t seen any clearly persuasive data either way so far. however, FDR did have a world war and world wide depression to deal with, so i could kind of see (fairly or not) how race relations might not have been at the top of his priority list. he also had high ranking members of his administration who were both anti-semitic, and racist, so i’m guessing they weren’t pushing policies stemming either of those.

          and yes, FDR was responsible for those men being in those powerful positions, but i’m also guessing they were more the norm than the contemporary exceptions to the rule.

          • burritoboy

            People would have of course immediately noticed if FDR had strongly avoided racist Southern Democrats for high administrative positions. (Indeed, many Southern Democrats, even in our reality, thought that FDR’s administration had sold them out to the Northern Dems anyway). FDR’s dilemma was impossible to avoid – he needed the votes of the racist Southern Democrats – as did every Democratic President from Jefferson until Clinton or even Obama.

            • Scott Lemieux

              I also note that Dilan seems seriously to be suggesting that LBJ could have ended apartheid in 1938 just like he did in 1965. Because, you know, there were just as many liberal Republicans and just as much public support for civil rights in 1938 as 1965.

              For that matter, even FDR and Truman aren’t really comparable. 1950 is a very different than 1936 in terms of political time. World War II and the Cold War were critical to making civil rights politics viable.

      • Ronan

        She believed (incorrectly imo) that she needed SA support against the Soviets..she also realised there was little she could actually do

        • The fact that the dismantling of apartheid happened so quickly certainly suggests it could have happened much earlier had the world cared.

          • Ronan

            I don’t disagree

          • firefall

            That strikes me as preposterous, I’m afraid. The final dismantling rested on a long, long process of isolation and shunning pressing the need for the change on the ruling class of the Boers. WHat you’re suggesting is essentially saying, well the Soviet Union dissolved so quickly, it could have happened much earlier if the world cared about it.

      • Scott Lemieux

        FDR needed the votes of segregationists. Thatcher didn’t need the votes of apartheid-supporting Boers.

        You beat me to it. It’s a silly analogy.

        • Ronan

          It’s not because you can’t remove it from the context of the cold war (as she, and many others, perceived it) and from pressures, both domestically and internationally, to retain the alliance with SA

          • Ronan

            Anyway, the argument is she was ‘for’ aparthied, not that her policy on SA was good (I cant think of a better way of phrasing that at the moment)..you have a much better chance of arguing the second point than the first

          • Scott Lemieux

            Except, of course, that the Cold War had existed for decades but Thatcher’s pro-apartheid policies were reversals of longstanding British policy.

            • Ronan

              That’s a fair enough point, but to a degree (although I’m open to correction on the extent to which US policies towards SA did change under Thatcher)

              • Ronan

                UK policies

                • Thatcher actually clashed with Canadian PM and fellow Conservative Brian Mulroney at Commonwealth meetings over this issue. Mulroney wanted much tougher action than Thatcher would consider.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Mulroney wanted much tougher action than Thatcher would consider.

                  In fairness, Canada doesn’t really need the United States as an ally, so Mulroney’s hands weren’t tied like Thatcher’s. If there was a lot of trade between Canada and the U.S. that might be a different story.

                • divadab

                  @Scott – You’re joking, right? Canada is a mere satrapy of the American Empire, with the US taking 90% of its exports, after all!

                • Warren Terra

                  @divadab

                  @Scott – You’re joking, right?

                  Well, yes, he was …

                  (“satrapy”? A fine word, but I’m not sure you’re using it correctly)

                • Ronan

                  “In fairness, Canada doesn’t really need the United States as an ally, so Mulroney’s hands weren’t tied like Thatcher’s.

                  Yes, fine. Thatcher was the epitome of evil, coincidentally emerging from hell just as the post war consensus broke down.
                  There are no domestic constraints on British Prime Ministers,(they only exist for Democrat Presidents) no history of British outrages towards African countries before Thatcher, the Cold War and US relationship are irrelevant..we can discount the evidence that sanctions didnt work (moral preening you might say)that she didnt in fact support apartheid and put *some* diplomatic pressure on the South Africans to reform..and we can ignore the examples from today (such as Israel) where once again all these constraints emerge to prevent a succession of US and UK leaders from doing the ‘right thing’..FFS

                • Ronan

                  “In doing so, I have placed great weight on your assurance to me that you are taking steps to end all racial discrimination
                  and to give effect to the principle of participation by all comannities in the
                  political process. ”

                  http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/22B0B6BA712A4A0B81430DB11991FBD9.pdf

                • Ronan

                  “I continue to believe, as I have said to you before, that the release of Nelson Mandela would havemore impact than almost any single
                  action you could undertake.”

                  http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/6D1A4F11C9AD4BD58A3493B01077D862.pdf

                • Anonymous

                  coincidentally emerging from hell just as the post war consensus broke down.

                  The postwar consensus broke down for several reasons. You are right that Thatcher is not entirely to blame for this. But one reason for the collapse of this consensus is the rise of a more right-wing ideology in the Conservative Party. Thatcher represented this faction. There is no reason the economic woes of the 1970’s meant the UK had to shift as dramatically to the right as it did.

                  There are no domestic constraints on British Prime Minister

                  I could be wrong here, but from what I recall, Thatcher’s South African policy was quite unpopular in Britain. The only people in any way sympathetic to the apartheid government were a few in the right wing of the Conservatives. I suppose she needed their support, but it doesn’t seem to me they would be as significant a constraint on her as the Southern segregationists were on FDR.

                  no history of British outrages towards African countries before Thatcher

                  As Scott pointed out, British policy before Thatcher had been quite hostile to the apartheid government. This, in fact, was the main reason they declared independence from the UK in the early 1960’s. British policy since Macmillian’s “Winds of Change” speech had been much more open toward de-colonization movements and majority rule than it was before.

                  the Cold War and US relationship are irrelevant

                  I agree with you that they are important. This, in fact, was probably the main factor. Nontheless, it did not prevent other allies of the US from having quite different policies toward South Africa.

                  we can discount the evidence that sanctions didn’t work

                  It’s a lot more complicated than that.

                  There is evidence that the sanctions did hurt ordinary South Africans, and caused pain for South Africa’s economy. There is also evidence that they helped increase the regime’s international isolation, and thus contributed to the process of shunning which firefall notes, a process that probably accelerated the downfall of apartheid. No less an authority than F.W. De Klerk siad that the sanctions meant the apartheid government was “staring bankruptcy in the face”

                  The arguments that were used against sanctions, and for a ‘softer’ policy towards South Africa could be used in the case of numerous other regimes, such as the Cuban embargo. Yet, with a few exceptions, British and American critics of sanctions did not apply these arguments there. It’s almost as if they were arguing in bad faith!

                  And to attack those who don’t share your view of the sanctions for engaging in “moral preening” is just asinine.

                  that she didnt in fact support apartheid and put *some* diplomatic pressure on the South Africans to reform.

                  I don’t think that Thatcher *approved* of apartheid, and I agree that her public position on the South African government was motivated more by Cold War geopolitical considerations than anything else. I also agree that she put pressure on the South African government behind the scenes. I just don’t think she did *enough* to put pressure on them and that her public position on the issue was erroneous.

                  Also, while I appreciate that these are primary sources, the “Margaret Thatcher Foundation” probably isn’t the best place to go if you want nuanced analysis.

                  There is a case to be made that a more diplomatic posture towards the South African government was needed, and that the sanctions were counterproductive. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with it, but there is a case. But none of this required calling the main opposition to apartheid a “terrorist group” and dupes of Moscow.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  with the US taking 90% of its exports, after all!

                  Dhat’s da joke.

                • Anonymous

                  Actually, I want to correct something in my earlier post. South Africa didn’t declare independence in the early 60’s. It declared itself a Republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth. I was confusing it with Rhodesia, which did declare independence.

            • Anonymous

              And, after re-reading this thread, I realized that Ronan was using the phrase “moral preening” in reference to what Lemuiex said about FDR.

              Ronan, I apologize. I should’nt have flown off the handle because of that phrase.

              • Ronan

                No problem, and I agree with a lot of what you’ve said (I’ll have a better read later, just rushing now)..I think she prob had more space than I’ve implied on this thread (I was reacting to the claim she was ‘for’ apartheid’ which I dont think is fair)..I, personally, would think that her hostility was probably more ideological than anything else (free market, anti ‘terrorist’ (I’m using her perspective here, not mine), a specific english Tory view on Africa, her persectice on the Cold War, britains role in the world)..I could accept that with a labour govt policy could have been different on the margins, but overall a lot would have stayed the same

                I think there is something to be said for dealing with the SA regime rather than isolating it..I dont have the knowlege to say anything particularly intelligent on that, but it’s a reasonable political position imo

                (On british policy towards SA before Thatcher, I think the point has been overmade in general – look at Brit policy towards africa during decolonisation in the 50-60s – and the SA decison vis a vis the commonwealth etc seemed to have been as much to do with opposition towards SA from other African countries as it was hostility towards apartheid in Britain. I think – Im bluffing a good bit now though so Im really not trying to have that argument taken as gospel!)

                Finally re the Thatcher foundation.. I think that’s just an archive set up for every Brit PM – there’s one for every US Pres as well – and not a partisan outfit.

                btw, I genuinely cant believe I’ve ended up defending Thatcher here! I dont really hold any torch for her politics, I just don’t get this nostalgia that the left now seem to have for the 50-60s .. seems nuts

              • Ronan

                Reading back on your first longer response, I think I pretty much agree with all you’ve said (with one or two minor differences)..It makes sense, and my first response above is just (more or less) repeating most of what you said, just less coherently on my part..and thanks for going to the trouble of actually taking my overblown rhetoric seriously and not just playing gotcha!

        • Yup. FDR’s domestic political coalition and constraints have just about nothing to do with Thatcher’s conduct of foreign policy.

          I mean, if one wants to assail FDR to get at Thatcher, seems to me there’s some line about a son of a bitch that might be better. But that doesn’t allow you to equate their positions on racism (which, btw, were separated by 40+ years).

          • Ronan

            Political constraints exist both ways, not only as an excuse for when you want to support your own side

            • Then make an argument that Thatcher had political constraints that forced her to support apartheid or that FDR didn’t need the votes of segregationists, either in presidential elections or in Congress.

              Saying “racism here, racism there, they’re the same” is gotcha nitwittery.

              • Ronan

                The constraints are (1) she was leadrer of the Tories (2) there wasn’t really much she could have done to affect change in SA in the context of the Cold War (3) she valued the relationaship with Reagan

                • Ronan

                  This isn’t only in the context of FDR, but any president/PM (especially on foreign policy)..the exact same arguments are used in defence of Obama..why doesnt Obama support sanctions on Israel?

                • So, your argument is
                  A Thatcher’s constraints on SA were greater than they were on the USSR, which is why she could change policy toward the latter but not the former
                  B. FDR’s lack of constraints were…hey, look over there, Israel! Obama!

    • Ronan

      Also Pierce goes over the top vis a vis her affect on British policy in Northern Ireland. Internment occurred under Heath and the intelligence agencies were beginning to play a greater role during the 70s. She certainly wasn’t particularly ‘good’, but she reacted in much the same way (with rhetorical differences perhaps) as I you could have expected most British admins to react.
      Let’s not buy into her schtic, that she controlled events through force of personality..she was reacting to larger forces, in her own idiosyncratic way sure, but those forces exised indepednent of her

      • Warren Terra

        Oh, fer heavens sake. I don’t know about the policies, but the tone is crucial. Thatcher’s sheer contempt for the humanity of her opponents came through in multiple conflicts – see the miners, for example – but was nowhere more pronounced than in Northern Ireland. Others might have used repression because they saw it as the best hope for all involved to know peace; for Thatcher, it was reflex, an attempt utterly to crush those she disliked.

        • firefall

          absolutely on target, sir, that’s exactly right.

        • herr doktor bimler

          Thatcher’s sheer contempt for the humanity of her opponents came through in multiple conflicts

          Related to her insistence that “consensus” was the worst possible obscenity. She was adamant that everything wrong with the pre-Thatcher UK was the fault of Conservative and Labour politicians reaching compromises and finding common ground on which they could agree. If you weren’t destroying your opponent you were DOIN IT RONG.

          It will be interesting to see how many of the US pundits currently engaged in Thatcher hagiography are the same pundits who blame ‘polarisation’ for everything that’s wrong with US politicans and want more aisle-reaching and compromise and Grand Bargaining.

        • sibusisodan

          Yes – very well put. Perhaps Thatcher made contempt part of the common conservative lexicon. It’s certainly echoed in the current govts pronouncements on shirkers and strivers, and the way they deal with opposition.

          And I think this is different to the One-Nation types who went before. There’s a stirring speech Macmillan made in the Lords in 84:

          It breaks my heart to see (I can’t interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today – this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser’s army and beat Hitler’s army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can’t afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can’t go on.

          Imagine Thatcher saying that? Or Cameron?

        • Ronan

          Oh give me a break. Multiple Brit PMs carried out far worse attrocities in the post war era, the Malayan emergency, the Mau Mau uprising for example. They also implemented the same policies as Thatcher (more or less) in Northern Ireland, and in fact allowed the problems in the province escalate to the point of the Troubles. Perhaps she didnt like the white english working class as much as her predeccsors..I dont know nor give a fuck. What I do know is that the mine closures started under Labour, and would have continued regardless.
          I didn’t like her policies, or her, but let’s have some perspective here. Pre Thatcher Britain was not a Utopia, it was largely a shithole.

          • Anonymous

            I would agree with some of what you say here. Thatcher’s foreign policy, as bad as it sometimes was, was not significantly worse than past British foreign policy, or indeed the foreign policy of any powerful state. (The foreign policies of powerful states are usually quite bad). And making Thatcher a devil-figure is unwarranted.

            The main area she was worse was in domestic policy.

            Perhaps she didnt like the white english working class as much as her predeccsors..I dont know nor give a fuck

            The issue is not what Thatcher personally felt about the working class. Like you, I don’t particularly care whether she loved them, or hated their guts. The issue is the immense pain that Thatcher’s policies caused the working class. I agree that some level of de-industrialization was probably inevitable, and that the process would have been quite painful. I do not think, however, that it had to be as painful as it was. Nor does that excuse Thatcher’s disastrous adoption of monetarism, her complete indifference to unemployment, her determination to cut taxes for the rich and to slash services, her moves to privatize everything within reach, her near-destruction of the British labor movement, or her constant demonization of all opposition. I agree that she wasn’t the monster that she is often painted as, but her policies were disastrous, and helped lead to many of Britain’s current problems.

            And my memory is that Britain was actually in pretty decent shape from the mid-1950’s through the 60’s. It was only in the 1970’s that the wheels came off.

            • Anonymous

              In a similar way, the arguments about wether Barack Obama is a secret liberal or a closet conservative drive me nuts. The issue is not what Obama feels in his heart of hearts, the issue is the policies he implements.

              • Anonymous

                Oh, and it’s true that my memory of what Britain was like in the 1950’s and 1960’s comes from reading history books. I wasn’t alive at that time, so I could be wrong. But I didn’t get the impression that things were as bad as they became in the 1970’s.

                • Ronan

                  I agree with most of what you’ve said here as well..I didnt grow up in pre Thatcher Britain either, in fact I didnt even grow up in Thatchers Britain..I think on some things, life was prob better before the 70s, particularly if you were white unionised and working class..I just dont think we should downgrade a number of the ways in which it wasnt (from a prgressive perspective) in terms of race, sexuality, gender etc..I know it’s a tenuos link, but I do think the paternalism of the postwar era are in some ways a symptom (if not a cause) of the partiarchal nature of society at the time..deindustrialisation and the breakdown of the postwar order has also led to significant growth in non western countries, which I think is something that shouldnt be ignored

                  So I dont know how you square the circle, combine the good from then and now. I just dont buy the nostalgia

                • Ronan
                • spencer

                  The episodes of Month Python’s Flying Circus from circa 1969 didn’t make it look too bad. Quite silly, surely. But not an awful, dysfunctional hellhole.

                • Ronan

                  Just to clarify my point above, which was written in a rush..I think the paternalism of the post war compromise was central to its survival, and that we couldnt have made the progress we have in terms of race, gender and sexuality, within that ‘framework’ (for want of a better word)..which isnt to say that there’s not room for progress on inequality or declining social mobility, just that the post war era shouldnt be our benchmark (and i do think a lot of the changes that have hurt the unionised working class, have been quite good for those in developing countries)

                • ajay

                  The episodes of Month Python’s Flying Circus from circa 1969 didn’t make it look too bad. Quite silly, surely. But not an awful, dysfunctional hellhole.

                  That was regime propaganda, spencer! My parents still talk about the terror of hearing the irregular footsteps of the agents of Wilson’s brutal Ministry of Silly Walks outside their door at dawn.

    • Scott Lemieux

      And her arguments against sanctions, that they would affect the poorest South Africans most, is a legit and coherent position

      Right, Margaret Thatcher’s primary reason for opposing sanctions was their effect on the poor. This is totally plausible if you ignore everything about Thatcher’s political career.

  • In retirement she also came to support action on climate change.

    • spencer

      You mean when it was no longer in her power to actually do anything about it?

  • A Crooked Timber commenter linked this and pointed out that Thatcher’s time in office almost perfectly coincided with the North Sea oil boom. Just about everything in the economy during her time went in the shitter, but it was partially masked by the easy money they had for about a decade.

    • NickT

      Right. Thatcher frittered away the oil revenues on tax cuts to buy elections, while doing precisely nothing to strengthen the British economy for the long haul. Fiscal conservatism in action.

      • L.M.

        Surely she deserves some credit for all the work she did on behalf of Scottish nationalism.

  • Shakezula
    • firefall

      Well she inspired a lot of good music, too, as I think is covered by another LGM post. Just the sort of epitaph she deserves, really.

  • Murc

    If you want your gorge to rise, go read some of Sullivan’s paeans to the hero of his youth. It’s a breathtaking sea of disingenuousness; where he can defend Thatcher on policy he does so, but then segues smoothly into what are, essentially, claims that the zeitgeist of the times and the fact that Thatcher was sort of a dick are perfectly valid reasons to have fallen in love with her. It’s kind of impressive if you care more about style than about substance.

    I especially like the parts where he carps on her electoral wins, ignoring the fact that the structure of the british voting system is so screwed up that stunningly large majorities voted for not-Thatcher in all her elections.

    • Uncle Kvetch

      If you want your gorge to rise, go read some of Sullivan’s paeans to the hero of his youth.

      I’d sooner drink my own urine.

    • NickT

      You expected something other than disingenuousness from Andrew Sullivan?!

      Well, I commend your optimism in the face of overwhelming odds.

    • Shakezula

      If you want your gorge to rise, go read some of Sullivan.

      Full stop, the end.

      • firefall

        win

    • TribalistMeathead

      I still have no clue why she’s the only prominent female politician Smalltown Boy doesn’t hate with the fury of a thousand white-hot suns.

      • Bill Murray

        Maybe old Mags really liked The Bronski Beat

    • Being a sadist, I tried at least to check out his “Dissents of the Day” to see if his readers had anything less painful to read. Unfortunately, it was one of the ones where he responds to the dissents. I made it far enough to see him explain how Section 28 was really the fault of Ken Livingston being such a radical:

      Section 28 was and is indefensible – and I should correct my statement above that it was from 1981 – when it was 1987. But it was also part of an epic struggle between Thatcher and the far left that emerged after her first election, and caused the creation of the breakaway pre-Blairite Social Democratic Party (now the Liberal Democrats in a coalition government with the Tories). Local governments – especially in London where “Red Ken” Livingstone was ensconced – were constructing curricula of conscious radicalism. She was wrong to take the bait. But, unlike Reagan, she also launched a very comprehensive nation-wide safe sex campaign when HIV and AIDS emerged. I wrote the editorial in the Tory Telegraph at the time in favor of investment in research and public information campaigns on HIV and AIDS. She was a scientist. She was not a homophobe.

      Is it possible to be more of a pathetic whiner? Fighting the left made it worthwhile. Because of their “conscious radicalism”? What the fuck? And weren’t these radical lefties actually elected to these positions before Maggie simply eliminated that level of government (actually, that’s not a rhetorical question, I think that’s what happened, but was in elementary school on the other side of an ocean at the time)?

      Compare that with his opinion on Clinton signing DOMA. That was just inexcusable to Sullivan. Because there were any hippies to be punched to justify it, I guess.

      There may be worse below that quote, or in the (dear God, why?) video, but I’ve got hip-height waders so I’ll leave the river of bullshit before it gets any deeper.

      • Dammit. Reading Sullivan makes me a masochist. Providing the link might make me a sadist, though.

      • Hogan

        And weren’t these radical lefties actually elected to these positions

        That’s what “ensconced” means–elected repeatedly by people of whom I disapprove.

  • Carbon Man

    She gave one of the pithiest and best rreplays to those that argue for government spending as “stimulus”–

    “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.

    • Malaclypse

      Yes, we all understand that neither you nor she understand the distinction between money and capital.

      • I chuckled.

        • DrDick

          Or anything else really.

    • cpinva

      “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.

      which might be true, if either you or she actually had a clue what socialism is, which neither of you do/did. apparently, the concept of a government stimulus actually generating additional tax revenues, never occured to either of you, your theory being that it all goes into some “government expenditure galactic black hole”.

      • Dave

        OTOH, if you think ‘socialism’ involves keynsianism….

    • NickT

      “The problem with conservatism is that you eventually run out of middle class people to impoverish so your fat-cat cronies can have a third yacht.”

      • Linnaeus

        Harrumph.

        • firefall

          +2

    • sharculese

      Similarly, the problem with conservatism is that basing an ideology on glib sounbites is something only a fucking moron would do.

      • Carbon Man

        “Tax the ‘rich'”! And “the 99″% are the glibest ssound bites around.

        • Malaclypse

          “Tax the ‘rich’”! And (sic) “the 99″% (sic) are the glibest (sic) ssound (sic) bites around.

          You left off “family values.”

          • DrDick

            Also “welfare queens”, “makers and takers”, and “free markets.”

            • spencer

              “Cold dead hands,” also too.

  • rea

    The poll tax–the policy that cost her the prime ministership, which involved funding local government by a flat “per adult head” tax–is well to the right of anything even the most wingnuttiest US politcian would dare propose.

    • NickT

      And it was administered with all the snarling incompetence one would have expected from this paragon of crony capitalism and hysterical jingoism.

    • burritoboy

      It’s not that different from Jindal’s sales tax proposal. Admittedly, Jindal’s sales tax proposal is a nanometer better than Thatcher’s poll tax – but it’s basically the same policy impulse updated 20 years.

    • You don’t think that, now that his sales tax plans have fallen through, Bobby Jindal might consider it?

    • firefall

      Well, except for all the right-wing politicians who have advocated flattening (or flat-) tax rates. Wasnt Forbes pushing this wheelbarrow of shit? (badly, because … well, Forbes).

      • rea

        Sales taxes are indeed regressive. Flat tax rates are regressive. Neither are anywhere near as regressive as a tax that has every adult paying the same amount of money, regardless of whether they are a billionaire of a single mother with 12 kids.

        • burritoboy

          Sure. There’s no doubt that sales taxes aren’t as regressive as Thatcher’s poll tax. Nevertheless, the policy impulse is effectively the same.

  • Paul Gottlieb

    When I lived in England in the 80’s it was common knowledge that the Thatcher government had death squads doing targeted killing of civilians on both sides of the border in Norther Ireland. It was also well understood that the British were using torture as part of their interrogation methods in Northern Ireland. Not that most people in England seemed to care

    • Dave

      Really? And pray why has that not now been revealed in excruciating detail after, ooh, about twenty years of peace-process? Bearing in mind that the UK govt has spent £400 million of its own money on an inquiry into ONE iconic incident from 1972, and that the Shoot-to-Kill ‘policy’ has only ever been alleged to have led to 14 deaths out of the some 3500 in the ‘Troubles’, I’d say your ‘common knowledge’ was pub talk, which is always cheap.

      • Wee Pete

        Well Geraldine Finucane, the widow of Pat Finucane, the Belfast lawyers certainly murdered by loyalist paramilitaries who have subsequently been exposed as state agents believes that Thatcher was responsible for the murder. It is a little disingenuous to suggest that Bloody Sunday inquiry was set up by HMG out if the goodness of their hearts and if you read the wikipedia article that you have referenced yourself you will see that the “shoot to kill” allegations are of many more victims than the 14 you quote. The absence of a full judicial inquiry into the Finucane murder speaks volumes.

        • Wee Pete

          Sorry that should read – Well Geraldine Finucane, the widow of Pat Finucane, the Belfast lawyer murdered by loyalist paramilitaries who have subsequently been exposed as state agents certainly believes that Thatcher was responsible for the murder.

        • spencer

          Well Geraldine Finucane, the widow of Pat Finucane, the Belfast lawyer certainly murdered by loyalist paramilitaries who have subsequently been exposed as state agents believes that Thatcher was responsible for the murder.

          This hardly meets the standard for “evidence.”

  • Paul Gottlieb

    Thatcher once famously declared that anyone who thought that Nelson Mandela would ever be President of South Africa was “living in cloud cuckoo land.” It seems fitting somehow that Mrs. Thatcher was entertaining August Pinochet in her house the day the nearly three million people lined the streets of London to greet the new President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela

  • Carbon Man

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Vote for freedom, not free things.”–Margaret Thatcher

    • Ronan

      That was Ford, no? (or at least the start, the rest smells of bullshit)

      • Glenn

        Hallmark, I think.

        • Uncle Kvetch

          Jack Handey?

          • NickT

            Confucius out of Fortune Cookie by Christmas Cracker.

      • Jay C

        Hey! Don’t get on the troll’s case for its use of aphorisms as arguments! After all, isn’t trite sloganeering willfully misinterpreted as sage principle the fundamental basis of most conservative “thought”??

    • Malaclypse

      Oh Jennie, is there nothing you can get right?

      • DrDick

        Why no, no there isn’t!

    • joel hanes

      it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to see wise themselves. When others spoke, they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell

      Some of those who came under the spells of Reagan and Thatcher can never recover. Like Grima, they can neither escape nor surmount that enchanting voice in their own heads, whispering, always whispering. In many cases they can be recognized by their eagerness to produce for their countrymen the “freedom” to live under bridges, and by their conviction that community and society are illusions, that only individuals exist.

    • wengler

      Yeah I can’t even imagine Thatcher saying the word ‘Freedom’.

    • jwp

      Things I’m waiting to hear from a conservative politician:

      “A nation well armed enough to defeat tyranny is well armed enough to impose it.”

      “A secret service agent big enough to protect you is big enough to kick your ass.”

      “An aphorism simplistic enough to appeal to conservatives is simplistic enough to be used against them.”

      • spencer

        “A nation well armed enough to defeat tyranny is well armed enough to impose it.”

        Oh, they say this – or variations of the theme – when a) they need support from the NRA, and b) there’s a Democrat in the White House,

    • socraticsilence

      “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Vote for freedom*, not free things.”–Margaret Thatcher

      *For Rich White People Only, no Wogs,Latins or Irish may apply!

  • Jib Halyard

    She was wrong about pretty much everything else, but her liberation of the Falklands in 1982 was the single most morally justified use of military force by any Western power since 1945.

    • Ronan

      What about..Sierra Leone..eh..The Balkans..eh..no need to exaggerate

    • wengler

      Even more morally justified than Reagan’s invasion of Grenada?!

      • PSP

        Come on, Grenada had important consequences. It shoved Reagan’s major fuck up in Beirut off the front pages.

    • NickT

      It was also an unnecessary war, largely brought about by Thatcher’s dithering, which gave the Argentinian junta every reason to believe that, when push came to shove, they could simply annex the islands and then the diplomats could sort out the paperwork later.

      As for the money and lives wasted on some unrewarding lumps of stone in the middle of nowhere…

      • Jib Halyard

        People were living there. In their own communities. Having done so for generations. Having displaced noone in the process. Yet forced at gunpoint to live under a nasty fascist dictatorship. Where in that situation do you find any room whatsoever for moral ambiguity?

        • Warren Terra

          By the way: if your best friend is Augusto Freaking Pinochet, you maybe are on somewhat tenuous moral ground when you complain about a handful of people in South America being “forced at gunpoint to live under a nasty fascist dictatorship”. Especially since, for all its viciousness, a handy seven word explanation of Galtieri’s Argentina would be “Not Nearly So Bad As Pinochet’s Chile”.

          • Malaclypse

            Yes, but you forget: Faukland Islanders are mainly white people. And if Maggie hated anything, it was the idea that white people should be ruled by non-whites (papists, obviously, being non-white for this purpose).

          • Jib Halyard

            I imagine Britain’s response would have been the same had Chile invaded the Falklands. In any case, Britain has a clear duty to protect the “handful of people in South America” you refer to. An open and shut case, really.

            • Warren Terra

              Is it humanly possibly for anyone to so utterly miss the point other than deliberately?

              • Jib Halyard

                Bringing up Pinochet misses the point entirely.
                Thatcher’s friendliness towards that animal was despicable, but it has no bearing on the q
                If I recall correctly, there was a bit of official friendliness towawards Stalin, was of some use to the allied side in WWII…

                • Jib Halyard

                  double post, meant to say:

                  Bringing up Pinochet misses the point entirely.
                  Thatcher’s friendliness towards that animal was despicable, but it has no bearing on the rightness of liberating the Falklands.
                  If I recall correctly, there was a bit of official friendliness towawards Stalin at one time too, something to do with a war against fascism…

        • NickT

          And where in the world do you find evidence that we couldn’t have simply transferred the very small population of the Falklands to the UK? The Falklands war was a waste of men and money on all sides – and the cost of defending those arid lumps of rock is ridiculous.

      • rea

        What was at stake was this (and admittedly, Mrs. Thatcher was not in the slightest degree concerned about this): had the Argentine dictatorship been able to seize the Falklands with impunity, the dictatorship would have been able to remain in power much longer, using their victory to generate popular support. This was the same dictatorship that was dropping leftists out of helicopters and kidnapping their children. Instead, they completely discredited themselves, and lost power soon after the war ended. (Had the Argentine dictatorship invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to Satan on the LGM comment page).

        • Warren Terra

          As I commented below in reply to another of your comments, there’s every reason to think Thatcher was fully in support of the dropping of people out of helicopters to repress left-wing elements (see Pinochet, and see Operation Condor), including when it was done by the Argentinian Junta. Reversing Argentinian aggression in the Falklands may have been a major blow to fascist rule over Argentina, but that was neither the point nor the goal, merely a bonus – and it’s not even clear Thatcher would have seen it as a bonus on first principles.

    • Malaclypse

      the single most morally justified use of military force by any Western power since 1945.

      Aristide, 1994.

      • rea

        Little Rock, 1957.

        • Another Halocene Human

          +1

    • Warren Terra

      This is gobsmackingly insane. The Falklands war was a justified action by the British (it was also a comic-opera display of incompetence at all levels on both sides before and during the conflict, though the human losses render it unfunny). But if you’re looking for “moral justification”, there have been no few interventions in the last seventy years over matters a wee bit more pressing than the lingu franca and the passport color of a couple thousand sheep farmers huddled together for warmth in the southern Atlantic. Practically all of the other interventions involved matters of greater moral peril, if only by sheer weight of numbers, even the really stupid, pointless, misguided, or even counterproductive ones.

      • firefall

        you appear to have confused morality with importance ?

        • Warren Terra

          Well, no. The thing is, not only was the population affected in the Falklands by far the smallest of any involved in a western military intervention, the level of injustice (imposition of repressive maladministration by a foreign power; quite a fair chance of expropriation, displacement, and perhaps exile) – although genuine, and bad – doesn’t hold a candle to the famines, slaughters, and mass tortures implicated in many of the other interventions, the least of which involve issues as great or greater as those in the Falklands, even before you include population size as a factor. The only one that comes close is Granada, and even there the (absurd) moral claim was that a quiet invasion was being prevented from reaching its goal, which goal was alleged to be a sort of self-coup and the surreptitious imposition of repressive maladministration by a foreign power, not dissimilar to the Falklands.

          • rea

            And again, the reason the Argentine dictatorship tried to grab the Falklands was to muster popular political support for their regime, to enable continuation of their “Dirty War” against any vaguely leftist elements of their own population. So, yes there were “slaughters and mass tortures” involved in the war, even though Mrs. Thatcher wasn’t exactly trying to stop them.

            • Warren Terra

              But of course Thatcher didn’t care about the victims of the dirty war within Argentina (and had most certainly participated in their oppression through her backing of Pinochet, as part of the region-wide, multi-dictatorship Operation Condor). It is widely asserted that the dictatorship in Argentina was ultimately brought down in no small part because of its failures in the Falklands, which is good, but it could just as easily have been a national rallying cry and a bloody shirt the regime could have used to perpetuate its evil reign.

              • rea

                But it would have worked better to rally the nation if they had won, or at least, if they had lost after an epic battle agaisnt superior forces. As it happened, it just exposed the junta as militarily incompetent.

      • Jib Halyard

        Oh really? So you can name one other instance of a Western power using force on behalf of a side that had totally clean hands? Even one?
        The most fundamental duty of the state is to protect its own people from external aggression. How more clear cut could it possibly be?

        • Malaclypse

          You think any part of the British Empire arose “with totally clean hands”?

          My gob, it is smacked.

          • sibusisodan

            I believe the clean hands in this particular case belonged to the Falklanders themselves – the generation who were invaded, at least. That’s not easily disputed, I think.

            And actually given that the Falkland is were uninhabited before the original British settlement, it’s one of the least sordid episodes of our delightful colonial past. Which isn’t saying much, but still…

        • Warren Terra

          Jesus, could you get more disingenuous?

          So you can name one other instance of a Western power using force on behalf of a side that had totally clean hands?

          With whom is this arguing? And about what? The question wasn’t whether the Falklands war was justified, nor whether the Falkland Islanders were deserving of rescue, it was about the level of the moral imperative, the amount of human life, suffering, and liberty at stake – about your claim that it was “the most morally justified” intervention in post-WWII history.

          And in any case, do you really think asking that the beneficiaries of the intervention be blameless is such a challenge, is a benchmark that uniquely befits the Falklands War? Take for instance Sierra Leone: to the extent that the peasants who were saved by British intervention didn’t have clean hands, it was because the warring factions had cut their hands off

          And then you make the risible claim that:

          The most fundamental duty of the state is to protect its own people from external aggression. How more clear cut could it possibly be?

          Well, this is a duty of the state, no question. But it’s highly arguable whether it’s “the most fundamental duty”. Heck, there’s a whole theoretical construct that justifies invading foreign countries to save their citizens from their government. Are you really going to argue that the greatest duty of such a transgressive country remains the sanctity of its borders? Taking this model to its extreme, don’t you wind up with North Korea?

          And we weren’t arguing about when a western power or powers fulfilled their “most fundamental duty”; we were arguing about when they committed their greatest moral act. To defend your own is arguably not so noble as to defend others, and to prevent a couple of thousand of your own from being robbed and displaced may be worthwhile, but it isn’t – for example – an intervention to save tens of thousands of lives and to protect a cultural heritage going back a thousand years in the deserts of Mali.

    • socraticsilence

      Huh, I mean the hundreds of thousands not dead in the Balkans may object.

    • Anonymous

      The sinking of the General Belgrano was certainly a victory for freedom.

  • Johnny Sack

    Our favorite bearded, bespectacled British blogger has some serious issues, I always thought, for worshipping Reagan. I’m not part of the gay community and I loathe him for it and think his AIDS policy, standing on its own, is enough to rank him near the bottom of US Presidents.

  • herr doktor bimler

    her AIDS policy was humane and effective.

    Part of that policy consisted of “investing extraordinary efforts to save the careers of homophobic authoritarians”, so possibly not.

    Margaret Thatcher helped save the career of a police chief constable who said Aids patients lived in a “human cesspool of their own making”, newly-released documents show.

  • You can probably guess what this looks like without clicking, but graph of income share of the top 1% during Thatcher’s time in office.

    • And since I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned here, Thatcher on her legacy:

      Asked in 2002 to name her greatest achievement, Thatcher responded: “Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their minds.” In successfully running for office in 1997, Blair declared the creation of a “New” Labour Party, after repealing Clause IV of party’s 1918 constitution, which committed the party to the Socialist principle of state ownership and control of “the means of production, distribution, and exchange.”

      How much of a moral monster do you have to be to take credit for Tony Blair like it’s a good thing?

      • Anonymous

        She’s right, though. The Conservative and Labour parties are more identical now than ever (apart from some of the accents and some of the hair-dos). Look at the dopey schmuck Cameron with his fucking bicycle.

  • Sebastian H

    I would have sworn a year or two ago I read around here that the “for all intents and purposes, was for it” argument was complete bullshit. It is essentially the objectively pro-Saddam argument and the objectively pro-Stalin argument that gets used against leftists all the time. The argument doesn’t get any more sound by just using it against Thatcher.

    Are you objectively for the stoning of homosexuals if you don’t support crippling sanctions against Iran? Were you for all intents and purposes pro-Saddam if you didn’t support anti Iraq sanctions? Were you concerned about apartheid against the Kurds?

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