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Timeline: 1980

Jan 1  In Afghanistan, the Kamal regime declares that it invited Soviet troops into the country "in view of the present aggressive actions of the enemies of Afghanistan."

Jan 3  With Afghanistan in mind, President Carter wins congressional backing for lifting the ban on military aid to Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan. Pakistan's neighbor, India, is not pleased. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India excuses Soviet action in Afghanistan, suggesting that the United States is also meddling in Afghanistan.

Jan 3 The Soviet Union's press agency, Tass, complains of President Carter having described Soviet troops into Afghanistan as an "invasion." Tass calls the remark "propaganda" and says it "breaks all records of hypocrisy and lies."

Jan 4 President Jimmy Carter speaks of "severe" conseqences for the Soviet Union. He proclaims a grain embargo. His administration announces his decision to maintain a permanent American naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Jan 9 In Saudi Arabia, 63 Muslim extremists are beheaded for their part in the siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca in November. The leader of the uprising, Juhayman, is executed first. Juhayman, nevertheless, has influenced some extremists in Egypt who will assassinate Anwar Sadat. And Juhayman's ideas and actions leave an impresson on Osama bin Laden, who will praise what he did and join him in condemning Saudi rule.

Jan 12 Some experts in the US are skeptical about the Soviet Union's military intervention in neighboring Afghanistan as motivated largely by fear of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism to Muslims in the Soviet Union.

Jan 19  Responding to the Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan, China announces that it will not resume talks with the Russians regarding improving relations.

Jan 21  Speculation in gold has skyrocketed its price to its its highest ever (adjusted for inflation) at $850 a troy ounce – equivalent to almost $2,400 an ounce in 2006.. In the US people have been lining up at jewelry stores selling their gold.

Jan 23  In his State of the Union message, President Carter introduces what is called the Carter Doctrine: appearing strong in its commitments abroad. He declares that "we will continue to reduce the deficit and then to balance the Federal budget." He speaks of working with business to hold down prices, with organized labor to restrain pay increases "in a fair fight against inflation." And he speaks of cutting paperwork and dismantling "unnecessary Government regulation."

Jan 26  The war in Rhodesia has ended in a negotiated settlement. Insurgents are turning in their weapons at disarmament centers. South Africa agrees to withdraw the troops it has stationed just inside Rhodesia. Two rival rebel groups are interested in power. One is headed by Robert Mugabe, more Maoist in orientation and backed by the Shona tribe. The other is backed by a smaller tribe, the Ndebele, and headed by a former trade unionist, Joshua Nkomo.

Jan 27  Six US diplomats sneak out of Iran, using passports provided them by Canada.

Jan 29  A special session of the UN General Assembly passes resolutions 104-18 calling for an immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

Jan 31 Argentinian traders and farmers seek benefit from sales to the Soviet Union to replace supplies embargoed by the United States.

Jan 31 Hostages at the US embassy is world news. In Guatemala, Indian peasants have been holding hostages at the Spanish embassy. The embassy burns, killing 36.

Jan 31 It is a presidential election year. Ronald Reagan says he believes the United States should not stand in the way of foreign countries developing their own nuclear weapons, saying: "I just don't think it's any of our business."

Jan 31 Carter and some academic analysts believe that Soviet success in Afghanistan would be a threat to the rich oil fields of the Persian Gulf area and to the crucial waterways through which so much of the world’s energy supplies pass. One analyst, George F. Kennan, disagrees and questions the maturity of Carter's statesmanship. He describes Soviet action as reflecting “defensive rather than offensive impulses.” Kennan does not believe the Soviets are extending their power into the Persian Gulf region.

Feb 1  A Defense Department report on the Persian Gulf region concludes that US forces cannot stop a Soviet thrust into northern Iran and that the US should, therefore, consider using "tactical" nuclear weapons in any conflict there.

Feb 1  Senator Edward Kennedy complains that President Carter has created "war hysteria" in the United States.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Feb 14  Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany criticizes the United States for failing to consult its allies in developing a response to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Feb 17  In El Salvador, Archbishop Óscar Romero Romero has been speaking against murder, torture, social injustice. He writes a letter to President Carter. He mentions Carter's Christianity of apparent desire "to defend human rights." He requests that Carter forbid military to the Salvadoran government and that "your government will not intervene directly or indirectly, with military, economic, diplomatic, or other pressures, in determining the destiny of the Salvadoran people."

Feb 25  In South America's Republic of Suriname, discontented army sergeants seize power in a predawn coup. Six are reported to have been killed.

Mar 4  Rhodesia is now called Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the former public school teacher, is elected prime minister. He has agreed with the British to reserve for whites 20 of the 100 seats in the new assembly and not to alter Zimbabwe's constitution for ten years.

Mar 15  After an interruption of a few months, the East German Government resumes its program of releasing political prisoners in return for payments from West Germany.

Mar 21 President Carter interjects politics into the Olympics. He announces his desire that the United States boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Mar 24 In El Salvador, Archbishop Óscar Romero Romero is assassinated.

Mar 30 At the funeral of Archbiship Romero, gunfire and bombs kill 42.

Mar 31 While publicly signing legislation, President Carter speaks of the creation of "the first balanced budget that our nation has had in 12 years."

Apr 2 Ayatollah Khomeini has been complaining of oppressed Shia and has advocated a Shia rebellion against Saddam Hussein. In Iraq, Hussein speaks in public about "Persian cowards and dwarfs who try to avenge" the Arab victory at Al-Qadisiyah – a famous seventh century battle.

Apr 5 In the last twelve months the price of crude oil has more than doubled: from $15.85 per barrel to $39.50.

Apr 7 In response to the occupation of its embassy, the United States severs diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes economic sanctions.

Apr 13 It is reported that the US is responding to events in Nicaragua and El Salvador by urging the powerful in Hondurus to consider reforms and a return to civilian rule.

Apr 15 Cuba allows any person who wants to leave the island free access to depart from the port of Mariel. The Marial boat lift begins. President Carter is to use emergency powers to admit as many as 3,500 who seek asylm in the United States.

Apr 16 In Costa Rica, more than 230 Cubans, some weeping, others shouting "Liberty" and "Down with Communism," debark from two airliners.

Apr 19 In Havana, hundreds of thousands of Cubans march, demonstrating their support for the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro.

Apr 24 The US attempts to rescue people from its embassy in Iran. Transport planes and eight RH-53 helicopters meet at a desert airstrip in eastern Iran. One of the helicopers is damaged in landing. A sandstorm results in two helicopters breaking down. The mission is aborted and in departing a helicopter clips a C-30 transport plane and crashes. Eight US servicemen are killed.

Apr 25  Ayatollah Khomeini credits divine intervention in Carter's failure to rescue the hostages. He exercises his wisdom as man dedicated to his faith and warns that another attempt would endanger the captives' lives.

Apr 26  President Carter vows to pursue the release of the hostages by "every avenue."

Apr 26  The boat lift continues with 1,300 small boats reported at Cuba's port of Mariel, picking up Cubans and taking them to Florida.

Apr 27  Government attacks on student demonstrations in Kabul result in the death of more than 50 students.

May 5  President Carter pledges "an open heart and open arms " for the "literally tens of thousands" of refugees arriving in Florida from Cuba.

May 11 The New York Times reports that criminals and "retarded people" are among those arriving in Florida. It will be said that Cuba is emptying its jails and unburdening itself of undesirables.

May 14 In South Korea, thousands of police battle more than 50,000 students protesting continued martial law in South Korea.

May 17 In Korea, President Chun Doo-hwan, head of the Defense Security Command, drops pretense of civilian rule. He extends martial law to the entire country and disbands the National Assembly.

May 18 The use of police against students has inspired an increase in demonstrations. South Korea's government announces the closure of universities. It prohibits political gatherings and labor strikes and increases press censorship.

May 19 In western Washington State, Mount St. Helens erupts, sending volcanic ash about 2,100 meters into the air and eastward across the state, most of it within 12 miles. Compared to some other places in the world, Washington state is not yet densely populated, so only 200 homes are destroyed. Fifty-seven die.

May 20  Demonstrations continue in the city of Kwangju, South Korea. The cabinet of Prime Minister Shin Hyon Hwack takes responsibility "for failure to maintain domestic calm" and resigns.

May 22  Military authorities accuse South Korea's pro-democracy opposition leader, Kim Dae Jung, of planning to use students to stage a revolution.

May 22  Japan announces that it is imposing a freeze on export and service contracts signed with Iran since the beginning of the hostage crisis.

May 24 The International Court of Justice calls for the release of US Embassy hostages in Iran.

May 26  At Kwang-ju, a city of about 750,000, troops take 90 minuets to overrun demonstrators. It will be reported that they kill around 2,000 – to be called the Kwang-ju massacre.

Jun 3 Running against President Carter as a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for president, Senator Ted Kennedy wins several "Super Tuesday" primaries.

Jun 25 An assassination attempt against Syrian president Hafez al-Assad fails.

Jun 27 President Jimmy Carter signs a bill requiring 19 and 20-year-old males to register for the draft – a response to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

Jul 1 In Iraq, President Hussein, wearing a bush jacket and a pistol belt, campaigns in a rural area, greeted by cheering crowd arrives at a remote rural village. He inspects a market place and kisses a baby.

Jul 3 In Syria, association with the Muslim Brotherhood has become a capital offense. Troops are sent into various cities in search of Brotherhood members.

Jul 1-31 President Carter has a favorable rating of only 21 percent in the Gallup Poll, the lowest rating of any president, including Richard Nixon at the time of his resignation, since polling began in 1936.

Jul 14  President Carter's younger brother Billy (William Alton Carter) registers with the Justice Department as an agent of the Government of Libya. He discloses that he has received more than $220,000 in payments from Libya. Two weeks later the president admits having given Billy classified information dealing with Libya.

Jul 17 At the Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan becomes the party's presidential nominee. In his acceptance speech his speaks of " family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom." He says he wants his candidacy "to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose." He says he "will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose."

Jul 19 In Moscow the Summer Olympic Games begin. Eighty-one nations partipate. Sixty-four countries have followed the US lead and boycott the games, citing the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The British, Dutch, Irish, Italians, French, Spanish, Greeks, Finns, Swedes, Danes, Brazilians and Mexico were among those who participate.

Jul 22 In Lebanon the journalist Riad Taha is assassinated, said to be the work of Syrians.

Jul 23 In Paris a former prime minister of Syria and opponent of President Hafez al-Assad is assassinated.

Jul 26 The former Shah of Iran dies of cancer at the age of 60, in Egypt.

Aug 2 In Bologna, Italy, a bomb destroys the railway station, killing 85 and wounding more than 200. Eventually a group of rightists believing in violent political action will be blamed.

Strikers in Poland

Strikers in Poland, at Gdansk, a stop toward the end of Communism in Europe.

Aug 7-14 In Poland the Communist government has found it economically necessary to stop subsidizing food prices. Prices have been rising, and citizens are protesting. Workers strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk – the first of many such strikes. It is the beginning of the decline of Communism in Europe.

Aug 14 US President Jimmy Carter defeats Senator Edward Kennedy to win renomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

Aug 18 In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars presidential candidate Reagan describes the US action in Vietnam "a noble cause."

Sep 1-31 Desertions from Afghanistan's army has reduced its number from an estimated 80,000 at the time of the Soviet intervention to around 32,000.

Carter and Reagan

Reagan and Carter debate

Murdered nuns

Murdered on December 2:
Ita Ford, Jean Donovan,
Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel.

murdered nuns

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

John Lennon. One of his last photos.

Sep 17 In the wake of the recent strikes in Poland, a nationwide independent trade union, "Solidarity," is established.

Sep 17 President Carter has refused to allow former dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle residency in the United States. Somoza has moved to Paraguay (ruled by the dictator Alfredo Stroessner). While driving his car in downtown Asunción, Somoza is killed by a bazooka rocket fired by a commando team led by the Argentinean Enrique Gorriarán Merlo.

Sep 17 Saddam Hussein declares Iraq's 1975 agreement with Iran null and void.

Sep 20 Iran calls up several thousand military reservists "to defend the integrity of the country."

Sep 22 Saddam Hussein launches a land and air invasion against Iran.

Sep 23 President Carter pledges not to intervene in the Iran-Iraq War and calls on the Soviet Union and all other nations to do the same.

Sep 24 Ronald Reagan describes warfare between Iran and Iraq as the result of weak foreign and defense policies by President Carter.

Sep 26 Chairman Brezhnev calls on Iran and Iraq to negotiate a settlement to their war.

Sep 30 As in other countries, including the United States, Britain is suffering inflation. It also has rising unemployment. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is trying to balance the budget, and she is declining in the polls. Former Prime Minister Callaghan calls her government "reactionary, hard-faced and incompetent."

Oct 9 Iranian officials are reporting victories in the war against Iraq. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini tells the Iranians that they are fighting not only to throw the invaders back across the border but to punish the "criminal Baath Party regime for its crimes." (The Baathists are Sunni; Khomeini is Shia.)

Oct 15  An estimated 900,000 Afghanis are seeking shelter in Pakistan.

Oct 28 In the last of three "debates" between Carter and Reagan, Reagan says that with all his heart he believes "that our first priority must be world peace." Carter boasts of having built up a US military presence in the Gulf region with two major carrier task forces, and he speaks of his economic accomplishments, including reducing inflation. Reagan describes inflation as growing at a 12.7 percent rate. He criticizes Carter for having accused people of living too well and for calling on people to do with less. Reagan speaks of cutting government spending, more investment in defense, balancing the budget and reducing taxes. He asks listeners whether they are better off economically and whether they feel that the nation is providing more security.

Oct 29 Aircraft equipment failures permanently postpone another Carter administration rescue mission to Iran.

Oct 31 The Communist regime governing Poland recognizes Solidarity.

Oct 31 Mikhail Gorbachev has become a member of the leading body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: the Presidium, also known as the Politburo (short for political bureau.)

Nov 4 Ronald Reagan wins a landslide electoral victory against President Carter. He takes away from the Democratic Party all southern and border states except West Virginia and Georgia.

Nov 6 Microsoft signs a contract with IBM that will launch it as a major company. The contract is to develop software for IBM's new microcomputer.

Nov 20 In China the trial of "the Gang of Four" begins.

Dec 2  In El Salvador more political killings. Five members of the National Guard, in civilian clothes, take four Catholic Maryknoll missionaries, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel, to an isolated spot where they are beaten, raped and murdered.

Dec 8 In New York City, a deranged fan shoots and kills John Lennon.

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