University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Part III: 1980 - 1989
The Breakthrough

South Bend, January 5, 1980

Old Hidden Fears Surfaced Again

The brazen action of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - the precise preplanned move and cold-blooded execution of the invasion by airborne troops and advancing armored battalions - caused worldwide surprise and dismay. In Europe one was reminded of the events in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Old hidden fears of an invasion from the East surfaced again. The Russian danger has again been demonstrated as a harsh reality. What does the Soviet Union want in Afghanistan, on these barren highlands of the Hindu Kush Mountains? Without a doubt, her strategic position in Central Asia has been improved. Will she also be tempted to advance to the Persian Gulf to get a stranglehold on the oil supply of the West?

January 6, 1980

SALT II Put On Ice

In reaction to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter recommended to the Senate that the deliberations on the SALT II agreement should be cancelled. At the same time, Carter laid an embargo on the grain shipments to the Soviet Union and ordered that the sale of computers and other desirable high-tech products be stopped. Détente, the policy of disengagement between East and West, has been, if not directly discontinued, so at least noticeably cooled off. What will become of the East West dialogue in the1980s?

January 7, 1980

Thrown Back by 20 Years

The French ambassador to the United Nations who this month chairs the Security Council clearly characterized the present situation, before today’s vote on the resolution on the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan was taken: the endeavors toward disengagement may have been thrown back by 20 years, the world today is more insecure than ever before, a new arms race between the superpowers is imminent, and the unsettled situation in Central Asia involves a serious danger of war.

The resolution of the Security Council, which condemned the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and demanded the unconditional withdrawal of foreign troops, was of course vetoed by the Soviet Union.

South Bend, January 20, 1980

The Olympic Boycott

President Carter announced today in a televised interview on “Meet the Press” that he gives the Soviet Union a month to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, otherwise he would recommend that American athletes not participate in the Olympic Games in Moscow. As the Russian troops will certainly not withdraw so fast, this is tantamount to a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games.

January 21, 1980

The Anxiety about Yugoslavia

As President Tito, at the age of 87, is seriously ill and close to dying, the old anxiety flared up again that with his death the unity of Yugoslavia may fall apart. This could give the Soviet Union a welcome reason for occupying the country. As a precautionary measure, Yugoslav armed forces were dispatched to the Bulgarian and Hungarian borders. [Tito died on May 4, 1980. On the consequences of his passing, see entry of May 7, 1980.]

January 23, 1980

This Far and No Further

In his State of the Union Address today, President Carter emphasized that the Persian Gulf is of vital interest to the United States and the Free World. A further advance of the Soviet Union beyond Afghanistan, to either Pakistan or Iran, would be responded by the use of military force. The firm stand of the President - this far and no further - is supported by both parties in Congress and by a majority of the American people. The United States and the Soviet Union are once more on a collision course. One does not want to accept it for real, but the danger of war is great. President Carter ordered the return to the draft registration, which comes up to a partial mobilization. The United States is hoping for the support by the NATO countries which depend even more than America on the oil supply from the Persian Gulf.

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