05
Dec
08

On this Day, 12-5-2008: A Friendship Treaty

December 5, 1978

USSR and Afghanistan sign “friendship treaty”

In an effort to prop up an unpopular pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union signs a “friendship treaty” with the Afghan government agreeing to provide economic and military assistance. The treaty moved the Russians another step closer to their disastrous involvement in the Afghan civil war between the Soviet-supported communist government and the Muslim rebels, the Mujahideen, which officially began in 1979.

The Soviet Union always considered the bordering nation of Afghanistan of interest to its national security. Since the 1950s, the Soviet Union worked diligently to establish close relations with its neighbor by providing economic aid and military assistance. In the 1970s matters took a dramatic turn in Afghanistan, and in April 1978, members of the Afghan Communist Party overthrew and murdered President Sardar Mohammed Daoud. Nur Mohammed Taraki, head of the Communist Party, took over and immediately declared one-party rule in Afghanistan. The regime was extremely unpopular with many Afghans so the Soviets sought to bolster it with the December 1978 treaty. The treaty established a 20-year period of “friendship and cooperation” between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. In addition to increased economic assistance, the Soviet Union promised continued cooperation in the military field. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev declared that the treaty marked a “qualitatively new character” of relations between the two nations.

The treaty, however, did not help Afghanistan. Taraki was overthrown and killed by members of the Afghan Communist Party who were dissatisfied with his rule in September 1979. In December, Soviet troops moved into Afghanistan and established a regime more amenable to Russian desires. Thus began what many pundits referred to as “Russia’s Vietnam,” as the Soviets poured endless amounts of money, weapons, and manpower into a seemingly endless civil war. Mikhail Gorbachev finally began the withdrawal of Russian troops nearly 10 years later.

“USSR and Afghanistan sign “friendship treaty”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 5 Dec 2008, 11:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2505.

On This Day

1492 – Christopher Columbus discovered Hispaniola (now Haiti).

1776 – In Williamsburg, VA, at the College of William and Mary the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized.

1792 – The trial of France’s King Louis XVI began.

1812 – Napoleon Bonaparte left his army as they were retreating from Russia.

1848 – U.S. President Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ’49 by confirming the fact that gold had been discovered in California.

1904 – The Russian fleet was destroyed by the Japanese at Port Arthur, during the Russo-Japanese War.

1932 – German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa making it possible for him to travel to the U.S.

1933 – Prohibition came to an end when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1945 – The so-called “Lost Squadron” disappeared. The five U.S. Navy Avenger bombers carrying 14 Navy flyers began a training mission at the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station. They were never heard from again.

1955 – The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO.

1979 – Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Mormon Church due to her outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

1985 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 1,500 for the first time.

1998 – James P. Hoffa became the head of the Teamsters union, 23 years after his father was the head. His father disappeared and was presumed dead.

December 5, 1941

American carrier Lexington heads to Midway

On this day, the Lexington, one of the two largest aircraft carriers employed by the United States during World War II, makes its way across the Pacific in order to carry a squadron of dive bombers to defend Midway Island from an anticipated Japanese attack.

Negotiations between the United States and Japan had been ongoing for months. Japan wanted an end to U.S. economic sanctions. The Americans wanted Japan out of China and Southeast Asia and Japan to repudiate the Tripartite “Axis” Pact with Germany and Italy before those sanctions could be lifted. Neither side was budging. President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull were anticipating a Japanese strike as retaliation-they just didn’t know where. The Philippines, Wake Island, Midway Island-all were possibilities. American intelligence reports had sighted the Japanese fleet movement out from Formosa (Taiwan), apparently headed for Indochina.

The U.S. State Department demanded from Japanese envoys explanations for the fleet movement across the South China Sea. The envoys claimed ignorance. Army intelligence reassured the president that, despite fears, Japan was most likely headed for Thailand-not the United States.

The Lexington never made it to Midway Island; when it learned that the Japanese fleet had, in fact, attacked Pearl Harbor, it turned back-never encountering a Japanese warship en route or employing a single aircraft in its defense. By the time it reached Hawaii, it was December 13.

“American carrier Lexington heads to Midway.” 2008. The History Channel website. 5 Dec 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6401.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 5

1879 – Humane Society of Wisconsin Organized
On this date the Humane Society of Wisconsin was organized in Milwaukee. Inspired by Henry Bergh, a New York City philanthropist, and his Humane Movement, the state Humane Society was formed to protect both animals and children.  However, with the formation of child protection laws in the early 1900s, the Humane Society of Wisconsin began to focus primarily on animal protection. [Source: Humane Society of Wisconsin]

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