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Timeline: 1972

Jan 29  Senator Adlai Stevenson criticizes President Nixon for supporting the Pakistani government against East Pakistan (Bangladesh) seeking self-determination.

Jan 30  Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth after being advised that Commonwealth members, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, will recognize Bangladesh. 

Jan 30  In Derry (Londonderry) Northern Ireland, British paratroopers respond to a civil rights march by Catholics, in defiance of a ban against marches, and shoot dead thirteen unarmed marchers.

Feb 1  The first hand-held calculator (HP-35) goes on the market for $395.

Feb 2  Responding to the incident in Derry, persons in Dublin, Ireland, burn the British Embassy to the ground. Also in Ireland, several British-owned businesses are set afire.  A bomb explodes at the British Yacht Club in West Berlin.

Feb 18  The California Supreme Court finds the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the state constitution. Everyone on death row, including Charles Manson, has his sentence commuted to life in prison.

Feb 21-28  President Nixon and a large entourage visit the People's Republic of China. The US and China pledge to work toward full normalization of diplomatic relations. The US acknowledges that Taiwan is a part of China and expresses interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue.

Feb 22  A bomb planted by the Irish Republic Army kills seven people in Aldershot, England.

Feb 24  North Vietnamese negotiators walk out of the Paris peace talks, complaining of the US bombing of their country.

Mar 4  Libya signs a cooperation treaty with the Soviet Union. There is to be a joint development and refining of Libyan oil.

Mar 7  Campaigning in New Hampshire as the Democratic Party's front runner for nomination for president, Ed Muskie, Senator from Maine, is televised appearing to weep while complaining about a letter published in the Manchester Union-Leader. Presidents are not supposed to weep in public. Muskie wins the New Hampshire primary, but doesn't look presidential and will drop out of the race. It will be revealed during the Watergate scandal that the letter was a dirty tricks project from Nixon campaign operatives.

Mar 20  In the wake of President Nixon's visit to China, Leonid Brezhnev confirms that the Soviet Union is concerned about the possibility of secret agreements between China and the United States.

Mar 24  Britain closes Northern Ireland's parliament and says it will rule there directly for one year. Some of Northern Ireland's Protestants are disturbed by their loss of power. They charge Britain with surrendering to "terrorist violence." Ireland's government welcomes the take-over. The IRA does not.

Mar 30  North Vietnamese forces attack enemy bases in the south in their biggest offensive in four years.

Apr 10  The US and Soviet Union join 70 other nations in signing an agreement to ban biological warfare.

Apr 16  The US extends its bombing to Hanoi and its harbor: Haiphong.

Apr 19  President Nixon tells his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger: "I’m the last president... I’m the only president... who had the guts to do what we’re doing.... Reagan never could make president to begin with, and he couldn’t handle it.... I’m going to destroy the [expletive] country, believe me, I mean destroy it if necessary.... We will bomb the living beejezus out of North Vietnam and then if anyone interferes we will threaten the nuclear weapon."

Apr 21  Kissinger is in Moscow, preparing for a summit meeting. He tells Brezhnev that the US has two objectives in Vietnam: "to bring about an honorable withdrawal of our forces in Vietnam " and " to put a time interval between our withdrawal and the political process which would then start... We are not committed to a permanent political involvement there." (David Reynolds)

Apr 27  In Burundi a Hutu led rebellion against the Tutsi military dictatorship erupts and starts killing people.

Wallace for President button

Gordon Liddy

G. Gordon Liddy in later years

April 30  The unelected Tutsi "president," Michel Micombero, declares martial law, and the Tutsi controlled army goes on the offensive. Targeted are Hutus, especially the educated or militarily trained. In the coming three months between 100,000 and 150,000 Hutus will be killed and a half million Hutus will flee the country, while other events dominate world news.

May 8  President Nixon orders the mining of Haiphong Harbor.

May 15  In Laurel, Maryland, while campaigning for the presidency, Governor Wallace of Alabama is shot. He will be paralyzed.

May 19  In Hamburg Germany, the Red Army Faction explodes three bombs at the building housing the Springer Press.

May 24  In President Nixon's otherwise friendly visit to Moscow, Leonid Brezhnev pounds the table and speaks of America's "shameful war" in Vietnam.

May 26  Following negotiations that began in 1969, President Nixon and Brezhnev sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), the first accord intending to regulate the nuclear arms race. The agreement locks strategic ballistic missile launchers at their current number.

May 27  To the Soviet Union's foreign secretary, Andrei Gromyko, Henry Kissinger speaks of US intentions to "leave the struggle to the Vietnamese... All we ask is a degree of time so as to leave Vietnam for Americans in a better perspective." (Summits, by David Reynolds, p. 267)

May 28  A first attempt is made by operatives working for the Republican Party to break into the Democratic Party's national headquarters, to find evidence that the Democrats have received funds from Cuba – a possibility suggested by one of the operatives: G. Gordon Liddy.

May 30  In Britain, members of the "Angry Brigade," go on trial. They are held responsible for around 25 bombings in Britain since 1970, bombings that caused property damage.

May 30  Three members of the Japanese Red Army kill 24 and injure 80 at Israel's airport in Tel Aviv. Two of the attackers kill themselves with grenades – making an impression on a few Palestinians. The third attacker is taken prisoner.

Terrorized Vietnamese children

Napalm warfare. Associated Press photograph, taken by Nick Ut Enlarged photo of Vietnamese children running from napalm

Photo of Ulrike Meinhof

Ulrike Meinhof

Jun 1  In Iraq, the vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Saddam Hussein, oversees the seizure of Iraqi oil from international interests.

Jun 2  In West Germany, members of the Red Army Faction, including Andreas Baader, are arrested after a shootout with the police.

Jun 8  In South Vietnam, a tactic has been to bomb villages to discourage support of the Viet Cong. Terrorized children are televised running from the napalm bombing of the village of Trang Bang. Information about the later life of the naked girl with the burned flesh, seen running from her village (see photo), is available through a Wikipedia search for Phan Th? Kim Phúc.

Jun 15  In West Germany, more members of the Red Army Faction are arrested, including the co-founder Ulrike Meinhof, a former sociology and philosophy student and anti-Vietnam war activist. In four years, while in prison, she will hang herself.

Jun 17 Five men are arrested at the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC. They were intending to plant listening devices and photograph papers.

Jun 17  The United States returns Okinawa to Japan.

Jun 23  President Nixon has a recording device in the White House, and he and his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the CIA to obstruct an FBI investigation of the break-in at the Watergate hotel.

Jun 28  President Nixon ends sending draftees to Vietnam, unless they volunteer for duty there.

Jul 14  Senator George McGovern wins the Democratic Party's nomination for president. He favors an immediate and complete withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam.

Jun 21  In Belfast, 22 bombs planted by the Irish Republican Army explode, kill nine people and seriously wound 130.

Aug 3  The US Senate votes 49-47 to withdraw all United States forces from Indochina within four months, provided all prisoners of war are released.

Aug 4  President Amin begins to expel Uganda's Indian minority to Britain.

Aug 4  According to a Gallup Poll,  60 percent of the voting-age public opposes an unconditional amnesty for men who have evaded the draft by leaving the country.

Aug 12  President Nixon withdraws the last US combat units from Vietnam.

Aug 16  King Hassan of Morocco, while returning home in his private Boeing 727, is fired upon by fighter aircraft of the Royal Moroccan Air Force. His plane lands and the fighter aircraft continue shooting at his plane. Hassan sends a message by radio, disguising himself as someone else and reporting that the king has been killed. The fighter planes withdraw, the pilots soon to be executed. 

Aug 17  A survey of 456 of the richest, most powerful and most influential persons in the US reveals "a high level of acceptance of government intervention in the economy, approval of most of the things that make up the welfare state and rejection of hard-line anti-communism in foreign policy," what some people would call the liberal establishment. (The quote from the New York Times.)

Aug 22  Actress Jane Fonda is opposed to her country's military intervention in Vietnam. She is visiting North Vietnam. From Hanoi she broadcasts a description of her visit. For this she is to be called Hanoi Jane and a traitor.

Sep 5-6  At the Summer Olympics in Munich, eight Palestinians belonging to Black September enter the Olympic Village and murder eleven Israeli athletes .

Sep 14  Thirty-three years have passed since Germany invaded Poland. West Germany and Poland renew diplomatic relations.

Sep 21  President Marcos places the Philippines under martial law, allowing him to rule by decree. He describes this as necessary to prevent a Communist takeover.

Sep 29  Japan and China normalize diplomatic relations.

Oct 2  Denmark joins the European Community.

Oct 19  Two members of Black September hijack a German, Lufthansa, Boeing 727 airliner and demand release of three being held for the killing of the Israeli athletes in Munich.

Oct 25  In the US, the first female FBI agents are hired.

Oct 14  Chile is suffering economic decline and high inflation. Housewives are embittered by chronic shortages and rising prices and march beating on pots and pans. The leftist Allende regime declares an emergency and takes control of radio broadcasts as thousands of shopkeepers and small businessmen strike.

Oct 26   On the campaign trail in Kentucky, President Nixon says he is confident that difficulties regarding a cease-fire and peace settlement regarding Vietnam "can and will be worked out."

Oct 31  The United States seeks reassurance from Hanoi that when the settlement with Hanoi goes into effect, Hanoi will withdraw many of the 35,000 troops it has in the northern part of South Vietnam, although this is not among the terms of the agreement being negotiated by Henry Kissinger in Paris.

Nov 1  In Saigon, President Thieu describes agreement being made in Paris as "a surrender of the South Vietnamese people to the Communists."

Nov 1  West Germany has released the three demanded by the two Black September hijackers, who remain in Libya. Libya declares that it will not allow extradition of the two.

Nov 5  In Chile, a strike by truckers ends, and other strike leaders call for a return to work, ending a 26-day work stoppage.

Nov 7  President Nixon wins re-election with more than 60 percent of the popular vote.

Nov 11  The US turns the Long Binh military base over to Saigon's military.

Nov 20  Federal elections in West Germany gives Chancellor Willy Brandt's coalition 54 percent of the vote. Brandt wins a second term in office and support for his policy of reconciliation with Communism in East Germany and Eastern Europe – a policy detested by some conservatives.

Nov 20  Cuba informs the United States that it will put on trial the three hijackers who demanded and received $2 million in ransom and forced a Southern Airways jet to land in Havana.

Nov 21  The military junta ruling Argentina has invited Juan D. Peron to return, hoping he will contribute to a new unity in the country as it moves toward civilian rule for 1973. Peron receives a warm welcome.

Nov 22  US intelligence officials report that Hanoi has ordered Communist forces in South Vietnam to observe a cease-fire scrupulously for the first 60 days after it goes into effect and to refrain from all acts of vengeance, assassination and terrorism during that period.

Dec 7  In the Philippines, the First Lady, Imelda Marcos, is stabbed and seriously wounded. Her bodyguards shoot and kill the assailant, who was a geodetic engineer.

Dec 8  The United Nations proclaims this International Human Rights Day.

Dec 8  Trade flourishes between the Israelis and Jordanians. They watch each other's television programs. But Israeli-made goods and Israeli citizens are not welcome in Jordan.

Dec 15  Australia proclaims equal pay for women.

Dec 16  Henry Kissinger says that the negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam have so far failed to reach what President Nixon regards as "a just and fair agreement" to end the Vietnam war.

Dec 18  President Nixon has resumed bombing North Vietnam: Operation Linebacker. North Vietnam announces that they may break contacts with the US at the Paris Peace Conference.

Dec 21  East and West Germany recognize each other's government.

Dec 22  After five days and nights of heavy bombing, Hanoi is scarred and half deserted but, according to one observer, vigorous and in good spirits.

Dec 26  Former President Harry S. Truman dies.

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