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Abstract: On April 2, 1982, Argentine forces overran the British-controlled Falklands, thus triggering a confrontation between the two nations over possession of the barren South Atlantic islands. Students can read Part A to learn about the history of the British-Argentine dispute over the Falkland Islands from the late 17th century up to the Argentine invasion. Part B recounts U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig's arduous mediation efforts, in which he and his aides ultimately logged some 35,000 air miles in less than two weeks, shuttling between London, Buenos Aires and Washington. With Argentine troops entrenched on the Falklands and a massive British naval task force bearing down on the islands, the Haig discussions were truly "crisis negotiations." More generally, the case raises issues involving problems of negotiating "under the gun" and the dilemmas faced by negotiators and mediators alike in crisis situations.
Learning Objective: Questions raised in Part B of the case include: 1) What were the predominant US (and British and Argentine) interests? 2) Should the US have sided with Britain from the outset and thereby eliminated any confusing signals to the Argentine junta? 3) Did the Haig mediation effort stand a good chance of success? If not, should Haig have undertaken the mission? 4) Was the mediation truly neutral and evenhanded throughout, as was purported, or did it become biased as the negotiations progressed?