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Messaging

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My latest at the Diplomat talks up, well, diplomacy:

report emerged over the weekend that the United States may have inadvertently green-lit the 1982 Falklands War by sending overly positive signals to the Argentine junta. These signals (based on U.S. appreciation for Argentine anti-communist efforts) may have led the Argentines to believe that the U.S. would support its invasion, or at least not lend significant assistance to the United Kingdom in the ensuing war.

This incident immediately brought to mind the 1990 conversation between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and U.S. ambassador April Glaspie. In an ambiguous and confusing conversation, Glaspie suggested that “we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait,” a statement which some have argued Hussein interpreted as a green light for invasion.

In both cases the leadership wanted an invasion, and in both cases it wanted to believe that the United States would stand aside.  By simply making neutral comments about the state of affairs, U.S. policymakers may have inadvertently helped convince the leaders of Argentina and Iraq to pursue war.

 

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