Year
1980
Month Day
January 02

U.S.-Russia detente ends

On January 2, 1980, in a strong reaction to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter asks the Senate to postpone action on the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty and recalls the U.S. ambassador to Moscow. These actions sent a message that the age of detente and the friendlier diplomatic and economic relations that were established between the United States and Soviet Union during President Richard Nixon’s administration (1969-74) had ended.

Carter feared that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in which an estimated 30,000 combat troops entered that nation and established a puppet government, would threaten the stability of strategic neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan and could lead to the USSR gaining control over much of the world’s oil supplies. The Soviet actions were labeled “a serious threat to peace” by the White House. Carter asked the Senate to shelve ratification talks on SALT II, the nuclear arms treaty that he and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev had already signed, and the president called U.S. ambassador to Moscow Thomas J. Watson back to Washington for “consultation,” in an effort to let the Kremlin know that military intervention in Afghanistan was unacceptable.

When the Soviets refused to withdraw from Afghanistan, America halted certain key exports to the USSR, including grain and high technology, and boycotted the 1980 summer Olympics, which were held in Moscow. The United States also began to covertly subsidize anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, the CIA secretly sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan to arm and train the mujahedeen rebel forces that were battling the Soviets. This tactic was successful in helping to drive out the Soviets, but it also gave rise to the oppressive Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist organization.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan, who favored a more aggressive anti-Communist foreign policy. Reagan dubbed the USSR the “evil empire” and believed it was America’s responsibility to save the world from Soviet repression. He dramatically increased U.S. defense spending and ramped up the nuclear arms race with the Soviets, whose faltering economy ultimately prevented them from keeping pace. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Tags
terms:
Cold War

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

13 coal miners are trapped in Sago Mine disaster; 12 die

An explosion rocks the Sago Mine in Sago, West Virginia on January 2, 2006. 13 coal miners were trapped, and all but one eventually died. The tragedy, exacerbated by false reports that 12 of the miners had been rescued, brought scrutiny upon the media, the company that owned the ...read more

Football fans crushed in stadium stampede

On January 2, 1971, 66 football (soccer) fans are killed in a stampede at a stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, as they attempt to leave a game after a late goal by the home team. Initial reports suggested that the disaster was caused by fans returning to their seats after hearing of ...read more

President Harrison welcomes Alice Sanger as first female staffer

President Benjamin Harrison welcomes Alice Sanger as the first female White House staffer on January 2, 1890. During an otherwise uneventful presidency remarkable only for allowing Congress a free-for-all in spending public funds, Alice Sanger’s appointment may have been an olive ...read more

Secretary Fall resigns in Teapot Dome scandal

Albert Fall, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, resigns in response to public outrage over the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall’s resignation illuminated a deeply corrupt relationship between western developers and the federal government. Born in Kentucky in 1861, Albert ...read more

Georgia enters the Union

Georgia votes to ratify the U.S. Constitution, becoming the fourth state in the modern United States. Named after King George II, Georgia was first settled by Europeans in 1733, when a group of British debtors led by English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe traveled up the ...read more

First censuring of a U.S. senator

Senator Timothy Pickering, a Federalist from Massachusetts, becomes the first senator to be censured when the Senate approves a censure motion against him by a vote of 20 to seven. Pickering was accused of violating congressional law by publicly revealing secret documents ...read more

Russian fleet surrenders at Port Arthur

During the Russo-Japanese War, Port Arthur, the Russian naval base in China, falls to Japanese naval forces under Admiral Heihachiro Togo. It was the first in a series of defeats that by June turned the tide of the imperial conflict irrevocably against Russia. In February 1904, ...read more

Reconquest of Spain

The kingdom of Granada falls to the Christian forces of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I, and the Moors lose their last foothold in Spain. Located at the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers in southern Spain, the city of Granada was a Moorish fortress that rose to ...read more

Opera star Maria Callas walks out of performance

On January 2, 1958, celebrated soprano Maria Callas walks off after the first act of a gala performance of Bellini’s Norma in Rome, claiming illness. The president of Italy and most of Rome’s high society were in the audience, and Callas, known for her volatile temperament, was ...read more

Rare Bugatti found in British garage

On January 2, 2009, media outlets report that a rare unrestored 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe has been found in the garage of a British doctor. A month later, on February 7, the car sold at a Paris auction for some $4.4 million. The black two-seater, one of just 17 57S ...read more

President Nixon signs national speed limit into law

On January 2, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon signs the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting a new national maximum speed limit. Prior to 1974, individual states set speed limits within their boundaries and highway speed limits across the country ranged from 40 ...read more

Author Stephen Crane’s boat sinks

On January 2, 1897, American writer Stephen Crane survives the sinking of The Commodore off the coast of Florida. He will turn the harrowing adventure into his classic short story “The Open Boat” (1897). The 25-year-old writer had gained international fame with the publication of ...read more

Folk group The Weavers are banned by NBC after refusing to sign a loyalty oath

The Weavers, one of the most significant popular-music groups of the postwar era, saw their career nearly destroyed during the Red Scare of the early 1950s. Even with anti-communist fervor in decline by the early 1960s, the Weavers' leftist politics were used against them as late ...read more

Sherry Lansing named first female studio production head

“Former Model Named Head of Fox Productions” ran the headline in the January 2, 1980, issue of the New York Times, over an article announcing that Sherry Lansing had been selected to lead the production department at 20th Century Fox. After signing a three-year contract at a ...read more

The Yorkshire Ripper is apprehended

The so-called Yorkshire Ripper is finally caught by British police, ending one of the largest manhunts in history. For five years, investigators had pursued every lead in an effort to stop the serial killer who terrorized Northern England, but the end came out of pure ...read more

Carter reacts to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan

In a very strong reaction to the December 1979 Soviet military intervention into Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter requests that the Senate postpone action on the SALT-II nuclear weapons treaty and recalls the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. These actions indicated that ...read more

Congress publishes the Tory Act

The Continental Congress publishes the “Tory Act” resolution on January 2, 1776, which describes how colonies should handle those Americans who remain loyal to the British and King George. The act called on colonial committees to indoctrinate those “honest and well-meaning, ...read more