Historic Documents of 1979


Edited by: CQ Press

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    Publication of Historic Documents of 1979 carries through an eighth year the project launched by Congressional Quarterly with Historic Documents 1972. The purpose of this continuing series of volumes is to give students, scholars, librarians, journalists and citizens convenient access to documents of basic importance in the broad range of public affairs.

    To place the documents in perspective, each entry is preceded by a brief introduction containing background materials, in some cases a short summary of the document itself and, where necessary, relevant subsequent developments. We believe these introductions will prove increasingly useful in future years when the events and questions now covered are less fresh in one's memory and the documents may be difficult to find or unobtainable.

    The year 1979 witnessed the eruption of hostile events in a world already ravaged by inflation and energy shortages. Just before year's end, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to help install a friendly government, drawing widespread criticism and demands that the troops be withdrawn. President Carter called the invasion a grave threat to peace and later pledged that the United States would fight if necessary to protect its interests in the oil-rich Persian Gulf area.

    The invasion came at a time when the world's attention already was focused on that area because Iran, a country bordering Afghanistan, was defying U.S. efforts to secure the release of 50 captive Americans. Militant Iranians had seized the U.S. embassy almost two months earlier, demanding the return of the exiled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the price of the hostages' release. The crisis halted Iranian oil exports to the United States, further exacerbating the tensions over control of energy supplies.

    President Carter also faced serious problems at home as inflation reached its highest levels since the post-World War II period. Soaring fuel costs contributed to the increase, with gasoline exceeding the once-unthinkable price of $1 a gallon. At the same time, the future of a major alternative energy source — nuclear power — was cast in doubt by a suspenseful accident at the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg, Pa.

    These developments added substantially to the usual outpouring of presidential statements, court decisions, committee reports, special studies and speeches of national or international importance. We have selected for inclusion in this book as many as possible of the documents that in our judgment will be of more than transitory interest. Where space limitations prevented reproduction of the full texts, the excerpts used were chosen to set forth the essentials and, at the same time, to preserve the flavor of the materials.

    John L.Moore Editor Washington, D.C. February 1980

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