World history has recorded a lot of rulers who have attempted to use a small war to gain a popularity boost but overestimated the strength of their forces and reaped disaster instead of triumph. One of the clearest examples of this was the late 20th century conflict in the Falkland Islands.
It all began with a coup d’état in Argentina in 1976, when a military junta established a brutal dictatorship that oversaw an economic decline while repressing dissidents. By 1981, the country was ruled by General Leopoldo Galtieri, who, being neither consistent nor overly talented, decided, upon short reflection, to acquire the love of the people through a successful military campaign.
The object of the general’s ambitions were islands in the South Atlantic. In Argentina, they are called the Malvinas, but we know them as the Falklands, in the English language. Since 1833, the islands had been under British rule. However, they had long been a disputed area, claimed by both the Spanish and British Empires. Argentina had inherited this problem from Spain, although the chronicles of the conflict were already thoroughly covered with dust by the 1980s.
Nevertheless, Galtieri decided to extract this territorial dispute from the annals of history, and, in January of 1982, the Argentine military began to draw up plans for an invasion. Galtieri hoped to take the islands quickly and bloodlessly, avoiding casualties not only among civilians, but also among the British military. By that time, the British armed forces were considered to be anaemic, as budgets had been cut over many years – in short, the Argentines were counting on the weakness of the enemy.