. . .or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio – The World This Week – Feb. 18, 1979 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
Not a particularly good week for U.S. Foreign Policy – this week, ending this day in 1979.
From anti-U.S. riots in Tehran, the murder of the U.S.Ambassador to Afghanistan murdered in Kabul. Mexico reading the riot act to President Carter. China invading Vietnam. It was the culmination of a weeks house of cards, falling apart.
A months-old propaganda war turned into a shooting one, as Chinese troops crossed the border and six miles into Vietnam. It wasn’t unexpected; Vietnam was aware of a troop buildup along its border, with some 150,000 troops along with armor and aircraft assembling along the Northern border. With China making threats of retribution against Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia and its close alignment with the Soviet Union. The invasion began on the 17th with a sweep across the border, and in some places coming within 100 miles of Hanoi. Radio Hanoi denied China made any successes, saying it turned back the invasion, leaving hundreds of Chinese troops dead and stopping the invasion in its tracks. Chinese Radio made no comment. Observers said the fighting would be brief.
Meanwhile, the streets of Tehran were busy with the chants “Death To America” as the Ayatollah consolidated his power and went on a purge and execution of left-leaning former officials. The Ayatollah may have had the power, but wasn’t getting the mass support needed to make the transition over to an Islamic Republic complete. But as demonstrations and riots kept up in Tehran, and with an attack and brief capture of the U.S. Embassy earlier in the week, it became apparent the U.S. was no longer welcome in Iran. Embassy officials announced it could no longer protect Americans in Iran and urged the mass evacuation of the 5,000 remaining American citizens. Prior to the overthrow there were some 50,000 Americans living in Iran. By the end of the week it was estimated there would be a few hundred remaining, if that.
While that was going on, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs was kidnapped by Muslim radicals in Kabul. He was killed during a gun battle when Afghan police tried to rescue Dubs, despite U.S. pleas for no intervention. Since there was a heavy Soviet influence in Afghanistan, U.S. officials expressed shock that Moscow didn’t attempt to diffuse the situation.
It was one more batch of UN protests directed towards Moscow filed by the U.S. this week in 1979. Aside from Afghanistan, it was believed the Soviets were stirring up anti-U.S. sentiment in Iran, not to mention the tense situation in Vietnam.
All the turmoil going temporarily prompted President Carter to postpone his trip to Mexico. But he decided to go anyway. And perhaps that wasn’t such a good idea.
In an attempt to court better relations with Mexico, President Carter arrived in Mexico City for a visit with Mexican President Lopez Portillo. What Carter got was a frigid reception. Much of it had to do with Mexico’s sudden vast oil reserve and the irony that America was now showing great interest in the wake of an anticipated Petroleum flow northward. It was one of those “you had me under the bleachers” moments.
And that’s how the week rolled, the one that ended this February 18th in 1979 as presented by CBS Radio’s The World This Week.
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