On This Day…
On the 2nd January 1980 Détente (USA/Russia) ended
In response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the President of the United States, Jimmy carter recalled the US ambassador from Moscow and instructed the Senate to postpone action on the SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) nuclear weapons treaty. It was now official, the friendlier diplomatic and economic relations between the two super powers, established under former President Richard Nixon and Premier Leonid Brezhnev was over.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its support of a communist puppet regime caused consternation in the west. America feared the Soviet incursion would destabilise neighbouring countries like Iran and Pakistan and give Russia more influence in the oil producing nations of the Middle East.
President Carter and Premier Brezhnev had already agreed the nuclear arms treaty, but now Carter applied the political brakes by asking the senate to shelve its ratification and by recalling Michael Watson the ambassador in Moscow in an attempt to let the Kremlin know that military intervention in Afghanistan was unacceptable.
US halts exports and boycotts the Olympics
After refusing to withdraw from Afghanistan, America halted key exports to the Soviet Union, including grain and technology and further boycotted the summer Olympic Games, that were to be held in Moscow in 1980. The USA also began to covertly subsidise and provide indirect military aid to the Afghans fighting the Soviet forces.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan, who favoured a more aggressive anti-Communist foreign policy. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, he increased US defence spending and ramped up the nuclear arms race with the Soviets whose faltering economy ultimately prevented them from keeping pace.
CIA send billions to arm Afghanistan
The CIA secretly sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan (via Operation Cyclone) 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 organisation.
The CIA sent 2,300 Stinger missiles to various Mujahedin outfits throughout Afghanistan over the course of the war.
Reagan dubbed the USSR the ‘evil empire’ and believed it was America’s responsibility to save the world from Soviet repression. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.