December 12, 1980 – A busy day on Capitol Hill, in Diplomatic circles, around the Gdansk Shipyards in Poland.
News of the Reagan transition of the White House from Jimmy Carter – snags, ruffled feathers and attempts at cordiality. Future First Lady Nancy Reagan wondered aloud if the Carters could de-camp to Blair House and let the moving and re-decorating get underway – which brought an icy blast from Rosalyn. Nothing some diplomatic feather smoothing couldn’t fix. But the Diplomatic front was consumed with the on-going negotiations for the release of the 50 hostages, still being held in Tehran. Fits and starts and it was promising to be a nail-biter all the way to Inauguration.
Meanwhile, the situation in Poland was rapidly spiraling into an incident – with the Vatican chiming support for the Solidarity movement, and fears were expressed over a possible Soviet crackdown, along the same lines as the infamous close to Prague Spring in 1968 and the Social experiment which took place in Czechoslovakia.
Members of our own State Department were asked, if this situation escalated to an invasion of Poland by Moscow, would this constitute a state of War existing between Washington and the Kremlin. Many were hesitant to say yes, but no one was saying no either. It was one of those “go ahead and try it” gestures.
But the Soviets were up to their own eyeballs in concern – the the situation in Afghanistan, one of the countries not only threatened by, but being overtaking by Moscow – as a Soviet-led provisional government was set up in Khabul.
Any one of these incidents (save for the White House transition kerfuffle’s) would ignite into something serious with potentially dreaded implications. So close to Christmas, a plea for cooler heads and more steely reserve were asked for. But this was only December 12th and there were a lot more days and many more hours to go before The Reagan Years got underway.
And this is what it sounded like, via CBS Radio’s The World Tonight and Hourly news for December 12, 1980.