Arthur Gavshon

Arthur Gavshon formerly diplomatic correspondent in Europe for the Associated Press, is co-author, with Desmond Rice, of The Sinking of the ‘Belgrano’, reviewed by Tam Dalyell (LRB, 5 April 1984). He is the author of Crisis in Africa and of The Last Days of Dag Hammarskjöld. A Falklands fiction, Walter Windward’s Rainbow Soldiers, will be published by Hamish Hamilton on 13 June (341 pp., £8.95, 0 241 11542 6). One of its Task Force stalwarts proposes that the shortest book in the world is British Foreign Office Successes Since Suez. Max Arthur’s Above All, Courage (Sidgwick, 338 pp., £12.95, 6 June, 0 283 99249 2) is a lively collection of first-hand accounts by men – and one woman – of the three Services who fought the Falklands War.

Britain’s Juntas

Arthur Gavshon, 19 September 1985

Military and police murder squads roamed Argentina’s cities and villages during the Dirty War in search of anyone answering to the definition offered by General Jorge Rafael Videla: ‘A terrorist is not just someone with a gun or a bomb but also someone who spreads ideas that are contrary to Western and Christian civilisation.’ The dictatorial regimes led successively by Generals Videla, Roberto Eduardo Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri from 1976 to 1982 interpreted the concept of ‘Western and Christian civilisation’ in their own singular way. Last year, after a ninemonth investigation initiated by President Raul Alfonsin’s elected government, the National Commission on Disappeared Persons produced a 50,000-page report listing some of the ascertainable consequences. Not all were published, for fear of prejudicing the trials of those held responsible. But the Commission did make known that an estimated eleven thousand disappeared without explanation; that they were almost certainly murdered; that about twenty thousand people had been arrested, most of whom were beaten, tortured or raped; and that an exodus from the country of roughly two million took place – most of them people who thought their lives were in danger.’


Arthur Gavshon, 6 June 1985

Edgar Snow, the famous American foreign correspondent, once asked Mao Tse-tung for his appraisal of the social implications of the French Revolution. Mao reflected a while and then, shaking his head, said: ‘I think it’s still a bit too early to tell.’ The late Chinese leader’s caution might seem excessive even to the most obsessive historians. In today’s hurried world, politicians, strategists and international lawyres tend to place as much of premium on instant analysis as journalists do, but whether they reach balanced conclusions is whether they reach balanced conclusions is something else again.’

Small inconsistencies tend to be part of larger inconsistencies. Seemingly small untruths are often part of larger untruths. The discrepancies of fact and explanation in the Government’s...

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