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Timeline: 1985

Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping. He was against becoming another exalted personality and against the distribution of his photograph.

Jan 2  China's Communist Party leader, Deng Xiaoping, speaks of a new ''open door'' policy to the West as the only way to overcome the legacy of ''poverty, backwardness and ignorance'' that had been produced by hundreds of years of isolation.

Jan 6  An eight-day congress of the Chinese Writers' Association concludes with a declaration of their right to ''democracy and freedom.''

Jan 26  South Africa's president, Pieter Botha, promises blacks a greater political voice. He is accused by rightists of selling out Apartheid principles.

Feb 3  A Gallup poll shows President Reagan’s approval rating at 62 percent.

Feb 11  Nelson Mandela, former guerrilla leader, in prison since 1962, refuses President Botha's offer of release on condition that he renounce violence. Mandela says violence would not be necessary with democracy. Mandela will remain in prison five more years.

Feb 28  In Northern Ireland the IRA carries on its war against England with a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Mar 11  In the Soviet Union, Konstantin Chernenko dies. Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party.

Mar 16  In Lebanon a civil war still rages. Since 1982 Shia militants have been kidnapping and holding Westerners hostage. Today, Associated Press newsman Terry Anderson, from Ohio, is kidnapped.

Apr 8  Gorbachev announces his first unilateral initiative: a temporary freeze on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe. He calls on the US to respond with a similar freeze.

Apr 15  South Africa ends its ban on interracial marriages.

Jun 3  In Beirut, CIA agent William Francis Buckley has been held captive since March, 1984. On or around this day he dies of medical neglect. His death is not announced.

Jun 6  Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres orders most of Israel's troops withdrawn from Lebanon. A small force is to remain in a 15 kilometer-wide area to buffer attacks against Israel from hostile forces in Lebanon.

William Francis Buckley

William Buckley

Robert Stethem

Robert Stethem, victim

Ali Atwa

Ali Atwa, accomplice

Jun 6  The US Senate authorizes non-military aid of $38 million to the "Contras" – a guerrilla group waging war against the Nicaraguan government.

Jun 9  In Beirut, Thomas Sutherland, the Dean of Agriculture at the American University in Beirut, is taken hostage.

Jun 14  In Athens, Greece, two Lebanese Shia, said to be members of Hezbollah, smuggle pistols and a grenade aboard TWA Flight 847. A third man in the hijacking party, Ali Atwa, had been bumped from the flight. The pilot is forced to land in Beirut. Most of the passengers are from the United States. One of them, a young man in the US Navy, Robert Stethem, is singled out, beaten and his dead body dumped on the tarmac. The leader of the operation is Imad Mughniyeh of Hezbollah.

Jun 17  All but 40 of the passengers on the hijacked airline are released. One of the forty, who has heart trouble, is soon to be released.

Jun 25  Irish police arrest 13 IRA terrorists suspected of plotting bombings.

Jun 30  Ali Atwa, an accomplice in the highjacking of TWA Flight 847, has been arrested by Greek authorities. The thirty-nine hostages aboard the plane in Lebanon are released in exchange for Ali Atwa. In weeks to come Israel will release more than 700 Shia prisoners, while claiming that the release is unrelated to the hijacking.

Jul 10  The Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior is bombed and sunk in Auckland, New Zealand, by members of France's foreign intelligence agency, DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure).

Jul 18  President Reagan approves National Security Advisor William McFarlane's plan for better relations with Iran. MacFarlane wants to help Iran in its war against Iraq. Reagan is interested in Iran using its influence on those fellow Shia holding hostages in Beirut.

Jul 18  Secretary of Defense Weinberger, CIA chief William Casey and other hardliners remain in principle opposed to a summit meeting with leaders of the Soviet Union, and, if there was to be one, they prefer Gorbachev coming to Washington – a show of subordination. Encouraged by Secretary of State George Schultz, Reagan accepts a summit meeting at Geneva, Switzerland.

Jul 25  Israeli representatives meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Ghorbanifar. Israel will sell arms to Iran and the US will compensate Israel by sending it arms.

Sep 23  The cover story for Time Magazine describes moves in the Communist world away from socialism, including Bulgaria having allowed "the establishment of a string of largely autonomous companies that offer bonuses or other incentives," Hungary tinkering with market mechanisms, and Poland having 75 percent of its farming in private hands and small restaurants and shops. The focus of the article is China, where industries set their own prices, work for profit, are free to fire employees and are allowed to create joint ventures with foreign capitalists.

Sep 25  Terrorists belonging to Force 17, a group associated with the PLO, murder three Israeli citizens on their yacht in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Oct 1  In retaliation for the murders in Cyprus, Israel sends military aircraft against the PLO headquarters in Tunis, killing 65 people and wounding bystanders.

Oct 2  Rock Hudson dies of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the product of a virus first identified in 1983, now receiving more attention.

Oct 8  Abdul Abbas, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, has planned the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro. The Palestinian commandos shoot an elderly Jewish-American, Leon Klinghoffer, and push him in his wheelchair overboard.

Nov 10  President Reagan's National Security Advisor, Robert McFarland, has been concerned about the president's reliance on generalities about the Soviet Union, including use of "Nikolai Lenin" rather than the correct "Vladimir Lenin." For weeks Reagan has been studying papers given him by the State Department, 24 ten-page papers, one or two per week, in what aids jokingly call "Soviet Union 101." Reagan has also been watching movies made in the Soviet Union to sharpen his grasp of the humanity of the Russian people. (See Summits by David Reynolds, p. 357-58.)

Nov 15  In the Washington Post a rift between "moderates" and "hardliners" within the Reagan administration is suggested. The paper publishes a letter by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger urging President Reagan not to compromise SDI at the upcoming Geneva Summit with Gorbachev.

Nov 19  Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hold a "fireside" summit in Geneva. Reagan tries to assure Gorbachev that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) called Star Wars would not be used to launch a first strike against the USS.R.

Nov 20  Microsoft Corporation releases Windows 1.0.

Nov 21  Gorbachev has decided to cut off negotiations because he was having no success persuading Reagan to drop SDI. Gorbachev and Reagan pledge to meet again and seek a 50 percent cut in nuclear arms.

Nov 23  Three members of an Abu Nidal's group hijack an Egyptian airliner in Athens, Greece, and force the plane to head to Libya. An Egyptian security guard kills one of the highjackers and is killed. The plane is forced to land in Malta and refused refueling.

Nov 25  The hijackers have released two injured stewardesses and have begun shooting passengers, the first an Israeli woman. Egyptian commandos storm the plane. Fifty-six of the eighty-eight aboard the plane, including the highjackers, are killed.

Dec 7  Three members of the Reagan administration, George Shultz, Casper Weinberger and Donald Regan, advise Reagan to stop sales of arms to Iran.

Dec 27  Abu Nidal terrorists attack holiday travelers in the airports of Rome and Vienna. Eighteen vacationers die and 120 are injured.

Dec 31  Sometime around now, said to be the mid-1980s, in the Darfur region of the Sudan, climate change and a gradual trend toward desertification is making it more difficult for land to support both herder and farmer. There are farmers In Darfur who are no longer allowing nomadic herders to migrate across their land. A conflict is in the making between famers and the Arab speaking nomads whose militia, on horseback and camel, will be known as the Janjaweed.

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