Argentina probably benefited from defeat even more than Britain did from victory. The war was initiated by the repressive Argentine military dictatorship in part to shore up flagging popular support for the military junta. In the short run, the gambit worked. Even most left-wing Argentines cheered when the junta's forces captured the islands on April 2, 1982. But, contrary to Argentine expectations, the British did not take the invasion lying down, but instead sent a task force that eventually recaptured the Islands. The defeat discredited the military government even among its supporters, and led to its collapse a year later. The restoration of civilian rule in 1983 ended one of the most repressive periods in Argentine history, and led to the trial and conviction of several of the junta's members for human rights violations.
Had Argentina won the war, the military government would have gotten a new lease on life. The resulting harm would surely have outweighed any meager benefit that ordinary Argentineans could have derived from possessing a few small islands with little economic value.
14 June 2007
Why This Day Should Be Celebrated in Argentina
On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Argentine surrender in the Falklands War, Volokh Conspiracy blogger Ilya Somin makes an excellent observation about the relative importance of the British victory to today's Argentina: