Hardball with Chris Matthews, 4/8/13, 5:36 PM ET

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher dead at 87

Chris Matthews talks to historian David Brinkley and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell about the legacy of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who passed...

5 ways Margaret Thatcher shaped U.S. policy

Updated

Love her or hate her, there’s no doubt Britain’s Margaret Thatcher left her mark on the world.

Thatcher, who became the country’s first (and to date, only) female prime minister in 1979, died on Monday following a stroke. To conservatives, she’s a no-nonsense lawmaker who helped the West win the Cold War, fought for the Falkland Islands, and loosened Big Labor’s stranglehold on the U.K. economy. To liberals, she heartlessly crushed the working class and privatized British industry.

Here in the United States, opinions on Thatcher are similarly divided. But there’s no doubt that the Iron Lady affected U.S. politics. Here’s how:

-She teamed up with Reagan to win the Cold War

Ronald Reagan was elected just a year after Thatcher assumed her role as prime minister. The two formed a strong alliance, which was beneficial in ending the Cold War. She played a pivotal role in convincing Reagan that then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev could be trusted. “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together,” Thatcher famously said.

-She tried to talk Reagan out of Grenada

Reagan and Thatcher’s relationship wasn’t always so special. She was strongly against his invasion of Grenada following a military coup in 1983. In her memoir, she said she was “deeply disturbed” by it. Reagan’s former Chief of Staff, James Baker, told msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell that Thatcher called and skewered Reagan, saying, “Ronny, that is not consultation. That is notification.”

-She got the U.S. involved in the Falklands

In 1982, Argentina’s military occupied the Falkland Islands, a British territory that the country claims as its own. Thatcher deployed British troops, and the U.S. eventually backed her. Luke Coffey, a former adviser to the British government, told NPR that “Thatcher has said that without help from the U.S…Britain would not have been able to liberate the Falklands.”

-She urged George H. W. Bush to intervene in the Persian Gulf

Thatcher famously urged President George H.W. Bush to send troops into the Middle East to drive the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. The prime minister was in the U.S. when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded the neighboring country in August 1990. During a telephone conversation with Bush, Thatcher insisted that this is “no time to go wobbly.”

-And she became an icon for conservatives

In her passing, American conservatives are hailing Thatcher as a hero. Former President George H.W. Bush called her “one of the 20th century’s fiercest advocates of freedom and free markets,” who will “inspire future generations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thatcher will “forever stand as a model for those who wish to change society.” House majority leader Eric Cantor said she “inspired to world to empower people and families over government.” House Speaker commended her “no nonsense” leadership style.

5 ways Margaret Thatcher shaped U.S. policy

Updated