Posts Tagged ‘Tito

07
Apr
09

On This Day, April 7: Rwanda

April 7, 1994

Civil war erupts in Rwanda

On this day in 1994, Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in the genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In approximately three months, the Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda brutally murdered an estimated 500,000 to 1 million innocent civilian Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the worst episode of ethnic genocide since World War II.

The immediate roots of the 1994 genocide dated back to the early 1990s, when President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, began using anti-Tutsi rhetoric to consolidate his power among the Hutus. Beginning in October 1990, there were several massacres of hundreds of Tutsis. Although the two ethnic groups were very similar, sharing the same language and culture for centuries, the law required registration based on ethnicity. The government and army began to assemble the Interahamwe (meaning “those who attack together”) and prepared for the elimination of the Tutsis by arming Hutus with guns and machetes. In January 1994, the United Nations forces in Rwanda warned that larger massacres were imminent.

On April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down. It is not known if the attack was carried out by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi military organization stationed outside the country at the time, or by Hutu extremists trying to instigate a mass killing. In any event, Hutu extremists in the military, led by Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, immediately went into action, murdering Tutsis and moderate Hutus within hours of the crash.

The Belgian peacekeepers were killed the next day, a key factor in the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Rwanda. Soon afterward, the radio stations in Rwanda were broadcasting appeals to the Hutu majority to kill all Tutsis in the country. The army and the national police directed the slaughter, sometimes threatening Hutu civilians when persuasion didn’t work. Thousands of innocent people were hacked to death with machetes by their neighbors. Despite the horrific crimes, the international community, including the United States, hesitated to take any action. They wrongly ascribed the genocide to chaos amid tribal war. President Bill Clinton later called America’s failure to do anything to stop the genocide “the biggest regret” of his administration.

It was left to the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, to begin an ultimately successful military campaign for control of Rwanda. By the summer, the RPF had defeated the Hutu forces and driven them out of the country and into several neighboring nations. However, by that time, an estimated 75 percent of the Tutsis living in Rwanda had been murdered.

Civil war erupts in Rwanda [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4900 [Accessed 7 Apr 2009].

On This Day

1652 – The Dutch established a settlement at Cape Town, South Africa.

1712 – A slave revolt broke out in New York City.

1798 – The territory of Mississippi was organized.

1862 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh, TN.

1922 – U.S. Secretary of Interior leased Teapot Dome naval oil reserves in Wyoming.

1933 – Prohibition ended in the United States.

1940 – Booker T. Washington became the first black to be pictured on a U.S. postage stamp.

1945 – The Japanese battleship Yamato, the world’s largest battleship, was sunk during the battle for Okinawa. The fleet was headed for a suicide mission.

1953 – IBM unveiled the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine. It was IBM’s first commercially available scientific computer.

1963 – Josip Broz Tito was proclaimed to be the leader of Yugoslavia for life.

1971 – U.S. President Nixon pledged to withdraw 100,000 more men from Vietnam by December.

1980 – The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Iran and imposed economic sanctions in response to the taking of hostages on November 4, 1979.

1990 – At Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center a display of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs went on display. On the same day the center and its director were indicted on obscenity charges. The charges resulted in acquittal.

2000 – U.S. President Clinton signed the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act of 2000. The bill reversed a Depression-era law and allows senior citizens to earn money without losing Social Security retirement benefits.

April 7, 1954

Eisenhower gives famous “domino theory” speech

President Dwight D. Eisenhower coins one of the most famous Cold War phrases when he suggests the fall of French Indochina to the communists could create a “domino” effect in Southeast Asia. The so-called “domino theory” dominated U.S. thinking about Vietnam for the next decade.

By early 1954, it was clear to many U.S. policymakers that the French were failing in their attempt to re-establish colonial control in Indochina (Vietnam), which they lost during World War II when the Japanese took control of the area. The Vietnamese nationalists, led by the communist Ho Chi Minh, were on the verge of winning a stunning victory against French forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. In just a few weeks, representatives from the world’s powers were scheduled to meet in Geneva to discuss a political settlement of the Vietnamese conflict. U.S. officials were concerned that a victory by Ho’s forces and/or an agreement in Geneva might leave a communist regime in control of all or part of Vietnam. In an attempt to rally congressional and public support for increased U.S. aid to the French, President Eisenhower gave an historic press conference on April 7, 1954.

He spent much of the speech explaining the significance of Vietnam to the United States. First was its economic importance, “the specific value of a locality in its production of materials that the world needs” (materials such as rubber, jute, and sulphur). There was also the “possibility that many human beings pass under a dictatorship that is inimical to the free world.” Finally, the president noted, “You have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle.” Eisenhower expanded on this thought, explaining, “You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly.” This would lead to disintegration in Southeast Asia, with the “loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following.” Eisenhower suggested that even Japan, which needed Southeast Asia for trade, would be in danger.

Eisenhower’s words had little direct immediate impact–a month later, Dien Bien Phu fell to the communists, and an agreement was reached at the Geneva Conference that left Ho’s forces in control of northern Vietnam. In the long run, however, Eisenhower’s announcement of the “domino theory” laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson both used the theory to justify their calls for increased U.S. economic and military assistance to non-communist South Vietnam and, eventually, the commitment of U.S. armed forces in 1965.

“Eisenhower gives famous “domino theory” speech,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2630 (accessed Apr 7, 2009).

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13
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-13-08: Alliance for Progress

Kennedy proposes Alliance for Progress

President John F. Kennedy proposes a 10-year, multibillion-dollar aid program for Latin America. The program came to be known as the Alliance for Progress and was designed to improve U.S. relations with Latin America, which had been severely damaged in recent years.

When Kennedy became president in 1961, U.S. relations with Latin America were at an all-time low. The Latin American republics were disappointed with U.S. economic assistance after World War II. They argued that they had supported America during the war by increasing their production of vital raw materials and keeping their prices low–when the United States began massive aid programs to Europe and Japan after the war, Latin American nations protested that they also deserved economic assistance. Their anger was apparent during Vice President Richard Nixon’s trip through the region in 1958, when a mob attacked his car at a stop in Caracas.

More troubling to American officials was the threat of communism in Latin America. In 1954, the Central Intelligence Agency had funded and supplied a revolution that overthrew the leftist government of Guatemala. In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba and by 1961, the United States had severed relations with his government. In response to these developments, Kennedy made his plea for the Alliance for Progress. In requesting funds from Congress, the president stressed the need for improved literacy, land use, industrial productivity, health, and education in Latin America. The United States needed to help Latin America, where “millions of men and women suffer the daily degradations of hunger and poverty” and “discontent is growing.” The United States would provide money, expertise, and technology to raise the standard of living for the people of Latin America, which would hopefully make the countries stronger and better able to resist communist influences.

In response to Kennedy’s plea, Congress voted for an initial grant of $500 million in May 1961. During the next 10 years, billions were spent on the Alliance, but its success was marginal and there were many reasons that the program was ultimately a failure. American congressmen were reluctant to provide funds for land redistribution programs in Latin America because they felt it smacked of socialism. Latin American elites directed most of the funds into pet projects that enriched themselves but did little to help the vast majority of their people. The Alliance certainly failed in its effort to bring democracy to Latin America: by the time the program faded away in the early-1970s, 13 governments in Latin America had been replaced by military rule.

“Kennedy proposes Alliance for Progress.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Mar 2008, 04:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2605.

1519 – Cortez landed in Mexico.

1639 – Harvard University was named for clergyman John Harvard.

1660 – A statute was passed limiting the sale of slaves in the colony of Virginia.

1777 – The U.S. Congress ordered its European envoys to appeal to high-ranking foreign officers to send troops to reinforce the American army.

1868 – The U.S. Senate began the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson.

1881 – Tsar Alexander II was assassinated when a bomb was thrown at him near his palace.

1900 – In South Africa, British Gen. Roberts took Bloemfontein.

1901 – Andrew Carnegie announced that he was retiring from business and that he would spend the rest of his days giving away his fortune. His net worth was estimated at $300 million.

1902 – Andrew Carnegie approved 40 applications from libraries for donations.

1918 – Women were scheduled to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York due to a shortage of men due to wartime.

1925 – A law in Tennessee prohibited the teaching of evolution.

1928 – The St. Francis Dam in California burst and killing 400 people.

1935 – Three-thousand-year-old archives were found in Jerusalem confirming some biblical history.

1941 – Adolf Hitler issued an edict calling for an invasion of the U.S.S.R.

1946 – Premier Tito seized wartime collaborator General Draja Mikhailovich in a cave in Yugoslavia.

1963 – China invited Soviet President Khrushchev to visit Peking.

1964 – 38 residents of a New York City neighborhood failed to respond to the screams of Kitty Genovese, 28 years old, as she was stabbed to death.

1974 – An embargo imposed by Arab oil-producing countries was lifted. (ahem)

Viet Minh attack French garrison

A force of 40,000 Viet Minh with heavy artillery surround 15,000 French troops at Dien Bien Phu. French General Henri Navarre had positioned these forces 200 miles behind enemy lines in a remote area adjacent to the Laotian border. He hoped to draw the communists into a set-piece battle in which he hoped superior French firepower would destroy the enemy. He underestimated the enemy.

Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap entrenched artillery in the surrounding mountains and massed five divisions around the French positions. The battle began with a massive Viet Minh artillery barrage, followed by an infantry assault. Fierce fighting continued to rage until May 7, 1954, when the Viet Minh overran the last French positions. The shock of the fall of Dien Bien Phu led France, already plagued by public opposition to the war, to agree to the independence of Vietnam at the Geneva Conference in 1954.

“Viet Minh attack French garrison.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Mar 2008, 05:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1726.




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