05/10/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT
Failure?" asked Margaret Thatcher in her hour of crisis. "The possibilities do not exist. I'm not talking about failure. I am talking about supreme confidence in the British fleet, superlative troops, excellent equipment."
The rhetoric may not have been Churchillian, but the resolve certainly was. As the first shots sounded in the Falklands imbroglio, England's only female Prime Minister in 700 years of parliamentary history stoutly rallied the forces of the Empire to reclaim the desolate sheep-dotted islands so gallingly seized by Argentina a month ago. And, like so many PMs before her, Thatcher steadfastly maintained her churchgoing ritual throughout the gathering storm, joining her husband, Denis, at an Anglican Sunday service at 700-year-old St. Peter and St. Paul's in rural Buckinghamshire. There, Thatcher prayed for guidance before returning to the task at hand—her eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Argentina's mercurial strongman, Leopoldo Galtieri. The political futures of both leaders are at stake, but Thatcher left no doubt as to her opinion of the outcome. "In politics," she has said, "if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman."