Today in History: December 3, 1989 – Cold War’s End Is Near
Sort of seems appropriate. 29 years ago today, as we all know, the Cold War was finally coming to an end after 42 years. We’d had many close calls, but thanks to Reagan’s peace through strength policies, the end was in sight.
On December 3, 1989, during a meeting off the coast of Malta, President George Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev both issued statements that suggested that the Cold War may just be officially coming to an end.
In office for less than a year, this was President Bush’s first summit with the Russian leader. He was “eager to follow up on the steps toward arms control taken by the preceding Reagan administration” (History). Even Gorbachev was vocal about wanting better relations with the U.S. That was quite a change from what it had been earlier. Gorbachev promised that these “talks marked in important first step toward ending the Cold War” (History). He went on to suggest that the very ideology of The Cold War needed to come to an end – all of the mistrust between the two countries, the arms race, and everything else The Cold War entailed.
Unfortunately, despite their positive attitudes, the summit wasn’t overly successful. They walked away agree that both countries would work harder towards a “treaty dealing with long-range nuclear weapons and conventional arms in 1990” (History). Before leaving, they agreed to meet again in June of 1990, this time in Washington, D.C.
These are never the types of Today in History or Current Events posts you plan on making – though you also know that they are inevitable. For example, we had one just last week about President Kennedy.
Now, to be even more fair this is yesterday’s news, but to be fair to me, I only found out this morning. Though, it seems most people only found out this morning.
For today, our great country mourns the loss of one of it’s 44 leaders.
So, while around the country – and likely the world – we remember his service to his country, so will USA-eVote. I will be the first to admit that I don’t exactly remember our 41st president being in office. I can’t say much about it – maybe someone else can.
What I do know, though, is that he was another war hero. In fact, he was our last living president to see military combat.
See, after Pearl Harbor, Bush decided that he wanted to serve. And serve immediately. He had already made up his mind that he was going to be a pilot. But there was still a part of him that was fascinated by the Navy and it’s power. Lucky for him, the Navy also had pilots. It was the perfect fit.
Yet, there was still one major problem. He was not yet 18. Nor had he yet graduated.
But on June 12, 1942 he graduated from Philips Academy Andover. Now 18, as well, he headed straight from his commencement to Boston to be sworn into the Navy. A year later, he had become an officer and the youngest Naval pilot at just shy of 19.
Lt. George H.W. Bush was serving in the Pacific, based on USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) – this was the Torpedo Squadron (VT-51). “Throughout 1944, Bush flew 58 combat missions” (Source).
But on September 2, 1940, his squadron was attacked by Japanese anti-aircraft guns. Bush was assigned to strike over Chichi Jima, 500 miles from the mainland. His exact assignment was to take out a radio tower.
At 7:15 that morning, Bush set out with William “Ted” G. White and John “Del” Delany. An hour later, their plane was hit.
Even with all the smoke, Bush “continued to steer the plane, dropping bombs and hitting the radio tower. He told White and Delaney to parachute out of the plane, then climbed through his open hatch to maneuver out of the cockpit” (Source).
He was forced to bail out of the plane over the ocean.
Luckily, he was able to inflate his life raft. He had to paddle with his arms to prevent his raft from carrying him towards Chichi Jima. Later, he would learn just how lucky he really was to avoid the city, when he learned of the “horrific war crimes committed against American captives at Chichi Jim, including cannibalism” (Source).
[Below: Bush, the Navy pilot]
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery under fire.
So, whatever his record may have had in the White House, one thing remains true: He was a war hero.
One day early this next week, Americans will hear the sounds of the 21 gun salute as well as “Taps” – the 21 gun salute will be heard at noon on the day of the funeral “Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals” (Source). Then, there will be a 50-gun salute “one round for each state–at five-second intervals immediately following lowering of the flag” (Source). Both of these are a way of honoring a man or woman who served this country.
Today, one gun will be fired every half-hour, beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.
Today we’d just like to say, thank you for your service, President Bush and offer you our most sincere salutes.
With this order, he issued the “first call-up of Selected Reservists to active duty for 90 days” (Source).
On August 2nd, Iraqi Saddam Hussein ordered his army to invade Kuwait. Condemning their ‘naked aggression,’ President Bush stated that he was considering his options. See, the US had been providing Iraq with massive military aid throughout the 8-year war with Iran. Thanks to US support, Iraq had the “fourth largest army in the world” (Source). Kuwait, on the other hand, was one of the U.S.’s greatest oil suppliers. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, too, was threatened. It would be disastrous if it fell to Iraq, “Iraq would control one-fifth of the world’s oil supply” (Source).
The same day, aircraft carrier CV-62 USS Independence moved towards the Persian Gulf. (Seen below)
On August 3rd, the U.N. told Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. Hussein refused.
Three days later, Saudia Arabia requested America’s assistance. The following day, Aug 7, Operation Desert Shield commenced. “The First U.S. Forces arrived in Saudi Arabia, consisting of F-15 Eagle fighters from Langley Air Force Base, VA” (Source). These forces were accompanied by troops sent by NATO allies as well as other Arab countries, all wanting to guard against an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia. In response, Iraq increased it’s forces in Kuwait to some 300,000 more troops, while declaring this a holy war. At the same time, he attempted allying himself to the Palestinian effort, “by offering to evacuate Kuwait in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. When these efforts failed, Hussein concluded a hasty peace with Iran so as to bring his army up to full strength” (Source).
On August 12th, the naval blockade of Iraq began; all shipments of oil were halted. The 12th also saw the first fatality of Operation Desert Shield, an Air Force Sergeant who was hit by a military truck.
On August 23rd (the day after President H.W. Bush signed the executive order), Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney called for an additional 25,000 Army National Guard personnel and Reservists. Then, on November 8 and 12, more troops were called up, and their stint lengthened.
On November 29th, the U.N. passed Resolution 678, giving Iraq a withdrawal deadline of January 15, 1991. Should Iraq fail to comply, the U.N. promised to uphold Resolution 660, which allowed for the use of force.