Posts Tagged ‘William McMahon

18
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-18-2008: Soviet Coup

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev

On this day in 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces.

Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1988, Gorbachev had pursued comprehensive reforms of the Soviet system. Combining perestroika (“restructuring”) of the economy–including a greater emphasis on free-market policies–and glasnost (“openness”) in diplomacy, he greatly improved Soviet relations with Western democracies, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, though, within the USSR, Gorbachev faced powerful critics, including conservative, hard-line politicians and military officials who thought he was driving the Soviet Union toward its downfall and making it a second-rate power. On the other side were even more radical reformers–particularly Boris Yeltsin, president of the most powerful socialist republic, Russia–who complained that Gorbachev was just not working fast enough.

The August 1991 coup was carried out by the hard-line elements within Gorbachev’s own administration, as well as the heads of the Soviet army and the KGB, or secret police. Detained at his vacation villa in the Crimea, he was placed under house arrest and pressured to give his resignation, which he refused to do. Claiming Gorbachev was ill, the coup leaders, headed by former vice president Gennady Yanayev, declared a state of emergency and attempted to take control of the government.

Yeltsin and his backers from the Russian parliament then stepped in, calling on the Russian people to strike and protest the coup. When soldiers tried to arrest Yeltsin, they found the way to the parliamentary building blocked by armed and unarmed civilians. Yeltsin himself climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone, urging the troops not to turn against the people and condemning the coup as a “new reign of terror.” The soldiers backed off, some of them choosing to join the resistance. After thousands took the streets to demonstrate, the coup collapsed after only three days.

Gorbachev was released and flown to Moscow, but his regime had been dealt a deadly blow. Over the next few months, he dissolved the Communist Party, granted independence to the Baltic states, and proposed a looser, more economics-based federation among the remaining republics. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned. Yeltsin capitalized on his defeat of the coup, emerging from the rubble of the former Soviet Union as the most powerful figure in Moscow and the leader of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:48 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52838.

 

On This Day

1227 – The Mongol conqueror Ghengis Khan died.

1587 – Virginia Dare became the first child to be born on American soil of English parents. The colony that is now Roanoke Island, NC, mysteriously vanished.

1846 – Gen. Stephen W. Kearney and his U.S. forces captured Santa Fe, NM.

1914 – The “Proclamation of Neutrality” was issued by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. It was aimed at keeping the U.S. out of World War I.

1920 – Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment guaranteed the right of all American women to vote.

1958 – Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” was published.

1962 – Ringo Starr made his first appearance as a Beatle at a Cavern Club show.

1963 – James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi. He was the first black man to accomplish this feat.

1973 – The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove” was released.

1997 – Beth Ann Hogan became the first coed in the Virginia Military Institute’s 158-year history.

 

 

Woman suffrage amendment ratified

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

“Woman suffrage amendment ratified.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5271.

Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam

Australia and New Zealand announce the end of the year as the deadline for withdrawal of their respective contingents from Vietnam. The Australians had 6,000 men in South Vietnam and the New Zealanders numbered 264. Both nations agreed to leave behind small training contingents. Australian Prime Minister William McMahon proclaimed that the South Vietnamese forces were now able to assume Australia’s role in Phuoc Tuy province, southeast of Saigon and that Australia would give South Vietnam $28 million over the next three years for civilian projects. Total Australian losses for the period of their commitment in Vietnam were 473 dead and 2,202 wounded; the monetary cost of the war was $182 million for military expenses and $16 million in civilian assistance to South Vietnam.

“Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:51 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1284.

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