April 19: Peace failed. It would have been a rotten deal. And, besides, nobody wanted it. It’s war that everyone appears to need. Argentina hasn’t had one since 1870, and the government slogan – broadcast on the radio to the exclusion of the usual admonitions about paying taxes and vaccinating dogs – states that a country reaches maturity only by war. There is euphoria, rejoicing, and a clamour for battle. Perhaps, this time, there really will be a war, and the chance to write real stories on the realities of a war that is not really here.
General Haig arrives to spend Easter in Buenos Aires. He is welcomed by crowds of men, dressed in sweat-shirts and pajamas, and women, wearing aprons over their skirts – a gathering that stretches all along the motorway between the airport and the city. The United States is cheered. General Haig is cheered. He has come, the people think, to help Argentina.
On Saturday, a crowd gathers in front of Government House and fills the Plaza de Mayo. It is showing General Haig the strength of popular support. It is a curious display if only because it assumes that the United States Secretary of State – or anyone else from Washington – understands popular support. General Haig, looking out from the balcony of Government House, must have thought that the people assembled there were a bunch of nuts.