War and Diplomacy
"[Rabin, Arafat, and dove of peace]"
September 14, 1993
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Swann Fund Purchase (35)
Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, and Yasir Arafat, the chairman of the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) shook hands on the White House lawn on
September 13, 1993, sealing an accord that committed Israelis and Palestinians to
share a land they both claimed as their own. Minutes earlier, Israeli Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres and the PLO's chief negotiator with Israel, Mahmoud Abbas,
signed a declaration of principles for interim Palestinian self-government in the
Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.
The United Nations General Assembly opened a debate on "the question of Palestine"
on November 13, 1974. Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), delivered the opening address, calling for the restoration of a Palestinian
state that included Moslems, Christians, and Jews. Concluding his address, he said
"I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the
olive branch fall from my hand."
‘May I please have your undivided attention . . ?'
November 13, 1974
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U.S. Embassy–Business as usual
April 20, 1983
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At midday on April 18, 1983, a massive car-bomb reduced the U.S. embassy in Beirut,
Lebanon, to rubble, killing dozens and wounding over one hundred. Casualties
included U.S. staff members, Marine guards, Lebanese clerical workers, and
civilians. Congressmen urged the U.S. to end its military presence in Lebanon —
talks had, in fact, been underway for the withdrawal of U.S. and Israeli forces
from Lebanon. President Reagan denounced the terrorist attack, saying it would not
deter the U.S. from its goals in the region.
On March 23, 1986, a huge U.S. Navy task force gathered in the Mediterranean Sea off
the coast of Libya to conduct "freedom of navigation" exercises in the disputed
waters of the Gulf of Sidra. When Libya fired missiles at American warplanes, the
United States responded by attacking Libyan ships and a missile installation on the
mainland. Most commentators feared that the action would backfire, giving Libyan
leader Colonel Muammer el-Qaddafi an opportunity to "stand up" to the U.S. and
enhance his prestige at home and in the Arab world. In his response to American
hostilities on March 25, Qaddafi stated, "This is not the time for speaking. It is
a time for confrontation, for war."
Let a thousand flowers bloom
March 25, 1986
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[Fidel Castro building a sand castle]
January 10, 1990
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The member states of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the
Soviet-bloc trade organization, agreed on January 10, 1990, at the conclusion of a
heated two-day summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, to adopt a gradual free-market approach in
their trading policies. Cuba, Vietnam, and Mongolia, the non-European members,
were not enthusiastic about the proposed changes. They indicated that their
economies would continue along traditional Marxist lines, no matter what policies
A student-led, pro-democracy movement that had begun in Beijing, the Chinese
capital, in mid-April 1989, led to the imposition of martial law in mid-May. On the
night of June 2, following a demonstration in the vast 100-acre Tiananmen Square,
led by pop singer Hou Dejian, a police van plowed into four bicyclists, killing one
instantly. Two others died later. Although it was an accident, rumors that it had
been deliberate led to a dramatic increase in demonstrators. About midnight on June
4, thousands of armed troops, supported by dozens of tanks and armored personnel
carriers, moved toward the central square. The crowd fought back and impeded their
progress, but scores of students and civilians were injured as tanks advanced
through Tiananmen Square.
Remember Tiananmen Square
June 5, 1989
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On August 19, 1989, more than 900 East German refugees in Hungary fled across the
Hungarian border into Austria at the border town of Sopron, where a joint
Hungarian-Austrian friendship picnic was taking place. Scores of East Germans had
gathered in Sopron in anticipation of the opportunity to escape. When Hungarian
border guards opened a frontier gate to let the Austrian picknickers through, about
300 East Germans rushed through into Austria. No effort was made to stop them and
the guards left the gate open for hundreds of other East Germans to follow. This
was believed to be the largest single illegal flight of East Germans to the West up
to that point, and the Western press dubbed the incident the "Great Escape." The
escapees began arriving in West Germany from Austria on August 21.
‘Hold it . . . wait for me!''
August 23, 1989
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Nine lives and counting . . .
March 25, 1993
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Russian leader Boris Yeltsin engaged in a power struggle for control of the country
with his parliamentary opponents in the Supreme Soviet, leading him to claim special
emergency powers in a televised address on March 20, 1993. This followed a week in
which the Congress of People's Deputies, led by chairman Ruslan I. Khasbulatov,
voted to take away prerogatives granted to Yeltsin in December 1992. Yeltsin
modified his decree when it was published on March 24 and did not mention "special
powers." The Constitutional Court, which convened on March 22, ruled that Yeltsin's
actions had violated provisions of the constitution. The Court argued that Yeltsin
did not have the right to ask the populace to choose between presidential or
parliamentary control of the government. Khasbulatov called for Yeltsin's
The civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina entered its second year as Serbs, under the
leadership of President Slobodan Milosevic, broke a two-week-old ceasefire on April
12, 1993, and tightened their grip on the area surrounding Sarajevo, renewing their
attacks on the former Yugoslavian capital as well as the predominantly Moslem city
of Srebrenica. The shelling of Sarajevo killed about ten people and the attacks on
Srebrenica killed at least fifty-six civilians, including fifteen children. On
April 3, the Bosnian Serbs had rejected a U.N.-sponsored peace plan that would have
left Serbs in control of 43 percent of Bosnia, as opposed to the 70 percent they
‘Thank you for not interfering. '
April 15, 1993
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‘How cozy it is on these cold winter evenings, to snuggle
down in front of TV and watch the war.'
January 22, 1991
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An international force led by the U.S. launched an air missile attack against Iraq
and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait on January 16, 1991, after Iraq failed to withdraw its
troops from Kuwait. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced the next day that "the
mother of all battles" had begun. Code-named "Operation Desert Storm," the Persian
Gulf War involved the use of high-technology weaponry, with strikes launched from
bases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and from ships in the region. The Department of
Defense exercised complete control over press coverage during the first month of the
war, convinced that the grisly pictures that came out of Vietnam had swung public
opinion against that war. Various U.S. media outlets complained that the system did
not permit free flow of news, and that the daily allied military briefings in
Riyadh, the Saudi capital, presented a manipulated, sanitized account of the war.
On February 13, scores of Iraqi civilians were killed when U.S. bombs destroyed a
reinforced building where they had taken refuge from the nightly bombing.
Television pictures from Baghdad showed badly burned survivors of the attack,
shocking and angering many members of the public.
‘Oo! Is it too late to go back to sanctions?'
February 14, 1991
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