Tam Dalyell

In the sticky heat of the Palace of Westminster, waiting for divisions of the House of Commons at hours when sane men and women are in their beds, I have been perusing Argentina: The Malvinas and the End of Military Rule by Alejandro Dabat and Luis Lorenzano.[*] The authors are Argentine Marxists living and working in Mexico. I shall be interested to see whether the reviewer for the London Review of Books judges the work to be cant. I believe myself that it is full of real insight. Understandably, Dabat and Lorenzano loathe the Argentine military. But the point they bring home is that it is wishful thinking to believe that after Alfonsin’s victory the military have simply gone away. They haven’t! Macho officers who have seen their seniors humiliated can be very dangerous indeed. In human affairs, the desire for revenge should never be underestimated. Reckless? Yes. Costly? Yes. An increase in human misery? Yes. An increase that will be seen as unacceptable? Not necessarily. The class, race and nationality which have produced some of the greatest racing drivers, from Juan Fangio on, and remarkably daring pilots during their first-ever modern war, are not simply going to accept defeat in one cup-tie. Besides, let us never forget that before the elections which swept Alfonsin to power, senior officers were telling the Anglo-Argentine community in Buenos Aires: ‘We can destabilise the elected government after two years or so.’

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[*] Verso/NLB, 205 pp., £20 and £5.95, 2 August, 0 86091 085 7.