Year
1982

Reagan links arms talks with Soviets to oppression in Poland

In a revival of the diplomacy “linkages” that were made famous by Henry Kissinger during the Nixon years, the administration of President Ronald Reagan announces that further progress on arms talks will be linked to a reduction of Soviet oppression in Poland. The U.S. ploy was but one more piece of the increasingly complex jigsaw puzzle of nuclear arms reduction.

Faced with a growing anti-nuke movement in the United States and abroad, and having drawn criticism for some off-the-cuff remarks about “winning” a nuclear war, President Reagan called for negotiations on reducing intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe. These talks began in November 1981 but quickly bogged down as both the U.S. and Soviet negotiators charged each other with acting in bad faith. Almost immediately, both nations began to increase their nuclear arsenals in Europe. Some speculated that neither side was truly seeking arms control, and the reaction of building up arms as a result caused a firestorm of protest in several western European nations.

Perhaps in an effort to divert attention from the failed talks, the Reagan administration in January 1982 linked further arms negotiations to Soviet actions in Poland, indicating that the U.S. would not engage in further talks until Soviet repression in Poland was eased. In that nation, the Soviet-backed communist government imposed martial law in late 1981 in an effort to destroy the growing Solidarity movement among Poland’s labor unions. Claiming that arms reduction talks could not be “insulated from other events,” the Reagan administration declared, “The continuing repression of the Polish people—in which Soviet responsibility is clear—obviously constitutes a major setback to the prospects for constructive East-West relations.”

It was unclear whether the U.S. stance had any direct impact on the ongoing INF talks. Domestic U.S. political opposition to any arms control agreement with the Soviets, combined with intense mutual distrust between the Soviet Union and the United States during much of the Reagan administration, were much more important factors in the delay in finally securing an agreement. The INF agreement did eventually get signed in 1987, when new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev broke the ice for more fruitful talks.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Ted Kaczynski pleads guilty to bombings

On this day in 1998, in a Sacramento, California, courtroom, Theodore J. Kaczynski pleads guilty to all federal charges against him, acknowledging his responsibility for a 17-year campaign of package bombings attributed to the “Unabomber.” Born in 1942, Kaczynski attended Harvard ...read more

First Russian Revolution begins

In Russia, the revolution of 1905 begins when czarist troops open fire on a peaceful group of workers marching to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to petition their grievances to Czar Nicholas II. Some 500 protestors were massacred on “Bloody Sunday,” setting off months of ...read more

Sakharov arrested in Moscow

In Moscow, Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov, the Soviet physicist who helped build the USSR’s first hydrogen bomb, is arrested after criticizing the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. He was subsequently stripped of his numerous scientific honors and banished to remote ...read more

Queen Victoria dies

The death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, ends an era in which most of her British subjects know no other monarch. Her 63-year reign, the longest in British history, saw the growth of an empire on which the sun never set. Victoria restored dignity to the English monarchy ...read more

British colonists reach New Zealand

Under the leadership of British statesman Edward G. Wakefield, the first British colonists to New Zealand arrive at Port Nicholson on Auckland Island.In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman became the first European to discover the South Pacific island group that later became known ...read more

Supreme Court legalizes abortion

In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Roe v. Wade that women, as part of their constitutional right to privacy, can terminate a pregnancy during its first two trimesters. Only during the last trimester, when the fetus can survive outside the womb, would states ...read more

Lyndon Baines Johnson dies in Texas

On this day in 1973, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson dies in Johnson City, Texas, at the age of 64. After leaving the White House in 1968, L.B.J. returned to his beloved home state, Texas, with his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, and immersed himself in the activity dearest to ...read more

Chief Dull Knife makes last fight for freedom

On this day, pursuing American soldiers badly beat Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife and his people as they make a desperate bid for freedom. In doing so, the soldiers effectively crushed the so-called Dull Knife Outbreak.A leading chief of the Northern Cheyenne, Dull Knife (sometimes ...read more

George Gordon, Lord Byron, is born

Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, is born this day in Aberdeen, Scotland. Despite his later fortune and title, Byron grew up in poverty and was burdened by a clubfoot. At age 10, he inherited his great uncle’s title and became Lord Byron. He attended Harrow, then Trinity ...read more

Plane crashes at Nigerian airport

On this day in 1973, a plane returning Muslim pilgrims from Mecca crashes in Kano, Nigeria, killing 176 people. It was the deadliest air disaster of its time.The Royal Jordanian Boeing 707-300 was chartered by Nigeria Airways to take Muslims in Nigeria on a pilgrimage to Mecca in ...read more

Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade was a landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s legal right to an abortion. The Court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, that a woman’s right to choose an abortion was protected by the privacy rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. ...read more

John McCausland dies

On this day in 1927, Confederate General John A. McCausland dies at age 90 inWest Virginia. He lived for over 50 years after the war and remained an unreconstructed Rebel at the time of his death.Nicknamed “Tiger John,” McCausland was born to Irish immigrants in 1836 in St. ...read more