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Chapter Thirteen HAIG'S SHUTTLE: ROUND ONE It is difficult to reconstruct a process of negotiation. Not all is captured in a formal record. Critical meetings are often in the corridors, over lunch or conducted in the utmost secrecy in a private room. Official minutes are often brief, noting only the headlines rather than the cut and thrust of debate. Even when they are fuller they fail to convey atmosphere, the tone of voice, the nodding heads, the meanings attributed to words and statements as they are delivered. In reading the following account it must be remembered that the task of a mediator is to gain the confidence of both sides and identify future areas of compromise while the protagonists remain fixed in their original positions. In this effort, confidentiality is critical; one of the few weapons available to the mediator is that only he has the full picture of the state of the negotiations and he can be selective in his disclosure. This is a record, therefore, that was never meant to be seen as a whole; it is not surprising to find Haig saying different things to each side and not simply acting, as he at times claimed to be, as a mere transmitter of ideas. It is also important to remember that many of the principals were suffering from fatigue during this process. The negotiations were arduous and difficult in themselves. It did not help that they were often conducted after hours in flight with little sleep and a confusion of time-zones. Because he was not acting as a simple channel of communication but was seeking to introduce his own ideas for the resolution of the conflict, Haig created the risk of confusing his interlocutors at times as 165 Compromises to whether he was speaking for the United States or the other side. This problem was aggravated by his lack of familiarity with the issues prior to embarking on his shuttle diplomacy. Nor could the United States act as a truly impartial mediator. It preserved as neutral a posture as possible so long as the mediation was under way but the pull towards full support of the United Kingdom was very strong throughout , reinforced by a number of factors: Haig's own view of the balance of American interests and the inadmissibility of the Argentine action of 2 April, close intelligence and military ties that could not be broken to preserve the neutral posture, and the steady pressure of American public opinion. One of those involved with Haig described the objectives of the effort: US aims throughout the crisis were clear and simple: to avoid a conflict - but not at any cost. For the United States the worst outcome would have been for Argentina to be successful in resolving the Falklands dispute through force either because the British failed to act or because they acted and failed. The United States wanted a solution which did not depart so significantly from the status quo ante helium that it could be widely read as any kind of significant reward for the use of force. This was really the most delicate aspect in trying to construct an outcome that not only was acceptable to both sides, but was also acceptable to the United States.1 The other important consideration was that the most desirable outcome was negotiations which decided the disposition of the Islands once and for all so that there would be no repeat performance.2 American interests were thus bound up wth the conflict from the start and this inevitably influenced Haig's efforts. Apart from the desire to avoid bloodshed Haig was acutely aware that if his diplomatic effort failed and the US was obliged to come down on Britain's side then this would damage America's standing in South America. One of his objectives throughout April was to limit this sort of damage for as long as possible. This added extra urgency to his efforts and can be seen in his continual requests to Argentina not to convene the Rio 166 Haig's Shuttle: Round One Treaty, at which the United States would find itself in an uncomfortable minority position. Meanwhile he had to persuade Britain that the United States had abandoned neither its ally nor its respect for the rule of law in order to preserve its South American interests. The Problem Identified The first tentative proposals developed in the State Department suggested a solution based on the diversion of the British fleet...


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