The 1980s decade was the period between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1989. The time period saw great social, economic, and general change as wealth and production migrated to newly industrializing economies. As economic liberalization increased in the developed world, multiple multinational corporations associated with the manufacturing industry relocated into Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. Japan and West Germany are the most notable developed countries that continued to enjoy rapid economic growth during the decade while other developed nations, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, re-adopted laissez-faire economic policies.

Developing countries across the world faced economic and social difficulties as they suffered from multiple debt crises in the 1980s, requiring many of these countries to apply for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Ethiopia witnessed widespread famine in the mid-1980s during the corrupt rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, resulting in the country having to depend on foreign aid to provide food to its population and worldwide efforts to address and raise money to help Ethiopians, such as the famous Live Aid concert in 1985.

Major civil discontent and violence occurred in the Middle East, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet-Afghan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Bombing of Libya in 1986, and the First Intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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During most of the 1980s, the performance of the national economy, as measured by broad economic aggregates, seemed favourable for banking. After the 1980–82 recession the national economy continued to grow, the rate of inflation slowed, and unemployment and interest rates declined.

However, in the 1970s a number of factors, both national and international, had injected greater instability into the environment for banking, and these earlier developments were directly or indirectly generating challenges to which not all banks would be able to adapt successfully.

In the 1970s, exchange rates among the worlds major currencies became volatile after they were allowed to float; price levels underwent major increases in response to oil embargoes and other external shocks; and interest rates varied widely in response to inflation, inflationary expectations, and anti-inflationary Federal Reserve monetary policy actions.

During the 1980s, of course, performance ratios of banks of all sizes weakened and exhibited increased risk. Profitability declined and became more volatile, while loan charges rose dramatically. Large banks assumed greater risk in order to boost profits, as is indicated by the sharp rise in the ratio of loans and leases to total assets for these banks.

In contrast, equity ratios increased over the period, particularly for large banks, in line with increased regulatory capital requirements and perhaps also in response to market concerns about distress in the banking system.

Mt. St. Helens

The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens is the most studied volcanic eruption of the twentieth century. Although most people were unaware of the potential for such a violent display of volcanism in the contiguous U.S., volcanologists were keenly aware of the potential danger. Months before it erupted, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) established a base of operations at Vancouver, Washington to monitor the volcano. On May 18, survey volcanologist David Johnston was camping on Coldwater Ridge, only a few miles north of Mt. St. Helens.

The eruption occurred that morning. At 8:32 a.m., Johnston radioed the USGS base and exclaimed "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!" The ensuing volcanic blast devastated the northern flank of the volcano, killing Johnston and 56 other victims. At the same time, geologists Keith and Dorothy Stoffel were flying in a light plane only 400 meters above the summit of Mt. St. Helens.

From their vantage point, they witnessed one of the largest landslides ever recorded in historic times. Seconds later, a massive explosion shot out the north side of the volcano, toward Coldwater Ridge and Spirit Lake. The explosion generated a billowing cloud with numerous lightning bolts thousands of meters high. The cloud began to expand rapidly toward their aircraft and appeared to be gaining on them, but by turning south they managed to outrun it and survive.

 Government House in the Falkland Islands' capital, Port Stanley

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the Soviet Union and the United States both enhanced their nuclear arsenals. This development reignited a peace movement worldwide. For New Zealanders there was a South Pacific focus. Initially provoked by French nuclear testing, from 1975 it was directed more at the United States' nuclear presence in the region.

Reinforced by world trends, the New Zealand movement exploded in size in the early 1980s. In 1985 the fourth Labour government clashed with the United States over its ban on port visits by nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships.

This distanced New Zealand from its Cold War allies and led the United States to suspend its ANZUS obligations to New Zealand. Nevertheless, the depth of sentiment in New Zealand was such that the National Party also adopted Labour's 'anti-nuclear' stance in 1990. By then, with Soviet control having collapsed in east and central Europe, the Cold War was approaching its end. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The demise of the Soviet Union itself at the end of 1991 completed the process.

Some commentators saw the massive build-up of the American nuclear arsenal in the 1980s as a crucial factor, given that the Soviet Union proved unable to match it. The collapse of Soviet power probably owed more to Eastern European resentment of Soviet domination, and to internal factors, in particular the declining ability of the Soviet system to meet its citizens' needs, and the loss of legitimacy on the part of the country's governing Communist Party.

Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic. he islands, off the coast of Argentina, have been a cause of friction between the two countries since Britain claimed them in 1833. The Argentine flag is now flying over Government House in the Falkland Islands' capital, Port Stanley. The head of the country's military junta, General Leopoldo Galtieri, has welcomed the "recovery" of "Las Malvinas" - the Argentine name for the Falklands.

General Galtieri said Argentina had been left with no option other than military action. The invasion followed months of sabre-rattling and a build-up over the past few days of Argentine war ships off the Falkland Islands, home to about 1,800 people.

Bishop Desmond Tutu

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has chosen to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1984 to Bishop Desmond Tutu, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. The Committee has attached importance to Desmond Tutu's role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa.

The means by which this campaign is conducted is of vital importance for the whole of the continent of Africa and for the cause of peace in the world. Through the award of this year's Peace Prize, the Committee wishes to direct attention to the non-violent struggle for liberation to which Desmond Tutu belongs, a struggle in which black and white South Africans unite to bring their country out of conflict and crisis.

Peter Sellers

1895-1930 is the era of silent movies. They began coming into sight in substantial numbers during these years. Because this kind of comedy has no verbal communication, it relies on slapstick and burlesque, which involves parody and at times grotesque exaggeration. Charlie Chaplin is one of the most popular actors in the line of silent movies. In France, Max Linder holds the title. In 1920's, comedy in the form of animated cartoons became popular. The characters have been receiving "special cartoon treatment." To name a few, there are Felix the Cat, Betty Boop and Krazy Kat.

The introduction of sounds in movies started the use of verbal humor. This took place in towards the end of 1920's. At the start of 1930's slapstick comedians were replaced by dialogue film comedians like W.C Fields and the Marx Borthers. Despite these changes, Charlie Chaplin remained in his position and was still a favorite during that time.

He also made some changes like putting sound effects but still has no dialogue. Screwball comedy was next in line. It encompassed pleasing and idealized climate that certain values and positive beliefs about everyday life of people were showed. Although physical comedy was still there, it is no longer a necessity because verbal interaction was prioritized and appreciated by the audience. Short subject films were also part of the trend during those times.

It is when the Three Stooges was at its peak. When the World War II started, military themes were such a hit in the industry. Comedy was focused on civil defense, service, boot-camp and shore leave. Because there are restrictions in travelling during the war, Hollywood was in boom time. But in the 1950's, comedy was introduced in television.

Family themed comedy became part of the industry because of this reason. Towards the end of 1950's, darker humor began to rise, which includes satire and social commentary. In the 1960's, star-packed comedies were released. This is also when Peter Sellers tried his luck on international audience and had a favorable outcome. 1970's was when slapstick comedy came back through Mel Brooks. His films include Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. But still, verbal use prevailed. This is the start of the career of Steve Martin and others notable comedians. Gag-based comedy films and disaster-themed series were well known trends in the 1980's.

During this time, American TV series were favored. In the early 1990's, the family-themed movies cam back to the limelight. Sequels were even made out of its success. Romantic comedy films were admired. Stoner comedies were such a knockout.

The story usually involves the adventure of two guys. Gross out movies were also patronized by younger audience. Comedy in television will always stay but it will continuously evolve to adapt to the traditional and pop culture, politics and even trends that represent the current era.

Britain in the 1970's certainly needed all the laughs she could get. Troubled by strikes and political tension, there seemed to be an explosion of comedy and silly crazes, perhaps as a means to escape all the problems. Whether it was bouncy toys, TV comedy series or children's characters like Muppets and Wombles, having a laugh became something of a national sport. 'Wacky', which is another word for 'crazy'.

In Britain, the 70's were a great era for TV comedy, and in particular 'sitcom' (or sit-com'), which is short for 'situation comedy' - that is people finding themselves in funny circumstances.'Slapstick', an obvious kind of humour - like people slipping on banana skins. But 70's comedy wasn't all about TV. It was alsao about 'fads' (something that's very popular for a short period of time), fashions and 'cults' (something that's very popular and fashionable among a particular group of people)



The worst civil nuclear catastrophe in history occurred at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Soviet Union (which is now in Ukraine). More than thirty people were killed immediately. The radiation release was thirty to forty times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

Hundreds of thousands of people were ultimately evacuated from the most heavily contaminated zone surrounding Chernobyl. Radiation spread to encompass almost all of Europe and Asia Minor; the world first learned of the disaster when a nuclear facility in Sweden recorded abnormal radiation levels. Chernobyl had four RBMK-type reactors.

These reactors suffer from instability at low power and are susceptible to rapid, difficult-to-control power increases. The accident occurred as workers were testing reactor number four. The test was being conducted improperly; as few as six control rods were in place despite orders stating that a minimum of thirty rods were necessary to maintain control, and the reactor's emergency cooling system had been shut down as part of the test.

An operator error caused the reactor's power to drop below specified levels, setting off a catastrophic power surge that caused fuel rods to rupture, triggering explosions that first destroyed the reactor core and then blew apart the reactors' massive steel and concrete containment structure.

The health impacts of the Chernobyl explosion will never be fully known. It is estimated that some three million people still live in contaminated areas and almost ten thousand people still live in Chernobyl itself.

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre (referred to in Chinese as the June Fourth Incident, to avoid confusion with two other Tiananmen Square protests) were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China (PRC) beginning on April 14. Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the protests occurred in a year that saw the collapse of a number of communist governments around the world.

The protests were sparked by the death of pro-market and pro-democracy official, Hu Yaobang, whom protesters wanted to mourn. By the eve of Hu's funeral, it had reached 100,000 people on the Tiananmen square. While the protests lacked a unified cause or leadership, participants were generally against the government's authoritarianism and voiced calls for economic change and democratic reform within the structure of the government.

The demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but large-scale protests also occurred in cities throughout China, including Shanghai, which stayed peaceful throughout the protests. The movement lasted seven weeks from Hu's death on 15 April until tanks cleared Tiananmen Square on 4 June. In Beijing, the resulting military response to the protesters by the PRC government left many civilians dead or injured. The official death toll according to the Chinese government was 200 to 300, but Chinese student associations and the Chinese Red Cross reported 2,000 to 3,000 deaths.

The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a physical barrier separating West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany), including East Berlin. The longer inner German border demarcated the border between East and West Germany. Both borders came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc.

The wall separated East Germany from West Germany for more than a quarter-century, from the day construction began on 13 August 1961 until the Wall was opened on 9 November 1989. During this period, at least 98 people were confirmed killed trying to cross the Wall into West Berlin, according to official figures.

However, a prominent victims' group claims that more than 200 people were killed trying to flee from East to West Berlin. The East German government issued shooting orders to border guards dealing with defectors, though such orders are not the same as shoot to kill orders which GDR officials denied ever issuing. The fall of the Berlin Wall started in Hungary, where a reformist government started (May 2) to dismantle the Iron Curtain, with symbolic moments like the so called Paneuropean picnic (August 19) and the Austrian-Hungarian governmental meeting (August 23).

On September 11 thousands of East Germans started to cross the Austrian-Hungarian border to emigrate to West Germany. That event caused popular demonstration and a irreversible political crisis in the government of GDR. When the East German government announced on 9 November 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.

Over the next few weeks, parts of the wall were chipped away by a euphoric public and by souvenir hunters; industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest of it. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

Wind Beneath My Wings

"Wind Beneath My Wings" is a U.S. number-one single performed by Bette Midler from the soundtrack of the film Beaches. Written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar, it was named Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1990. Written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar, the song was first offered to Kenny Rogers who turned it down (but later recorded a version on his "Love Songs" album in 1997). Coincidentally, it was Rogers who presented Midler's Grammy for the song.

Although the song has become primarily associated with Bette Midler, other versions of the song were released to the public years before Midler's. Sheena Easton (on her album Madness, Money and Music) and Roger Whittaker both released versions of the song in 1982, though neither had a hit with it.

The song entered various U.S. charts the following year in versions by Gary Morris, Gladys Knight & the Pips (their version was released under the title "Hero"), and Lou Rawls (whose version was a top ten Adult Contemporary hit). Because of the songs soaring imagery and the extreme earnestness of Midler's iconic performance, the song has become ripe for parody.

Bon Jovi

Before Lady Gaga there was Madonna. Before One Republic there was Bon Jovi. Many of today's most popular music acts are products of growing up in the 1980s. While many great bands were started in the 1980s, several of them did not make it out of the decade The music of the 1980s was dominated by hard rock hair bands and electro-pop groups exemplifying a decade of excess.

To be a Top-5 band from the 1980s, it had to be formed in the decade, experience longevity, unquestionable success, and define the music of that decade. My apologies to U2 and its fans, but it was formed in the 70s. Starting with No. 5, here are the Top 5 bands of the 1980s. No. 5 R.E.M. : Members of the top alternative rock band to come out of the 80s, R.E.M. achieved success as a group as well as individually.

With 15 studio albums and 64 singles to its credit, R.E.M. boasts over 80 million albums sold worldwide. Its 2011 release, "Collapse into Now" peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 U.S. Charts, demonstrating its continued influence and popularity. R.E.M. is more than a rock band, it is an active political and social voice. Whether changing the political climate or writing memorable music, R.E.M. occupies a well-deserved slot of top bands to come from the 1980s. No. 4 Pet Shop Boys: The Pet Shop Boys is "the most successful duo in UK music history," according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Considering it has sold over 100 million albums worldwide that is a hard praise to disagree with. Perhaps an unlikely selection to some, with 55 singles, 42 of which landed in the UK Top 30, and 22 singles in the Top 10, the Pet Shop Boys is easily the top duo in the list. With hits like, "West End Girls," "Opportunities (Let's Make Lot's of Money)," and "It's a Sin," the Pet Shop Boys techno-pop melodies permeated into the fans' subconscious well beyond the 1980s. No. 3 Depeche Mode: Q magazine calls Depeche Mode, "The most popular electronic band the world has ever known." Others simply say Depeche Mode is the most successful electronic band in music history.

With dozens of singles and music videos, Depeche Mode is both popular and successful, even today. Six of Depeche Mode's 12 studio albums were released in the 1980s. Totaling over 100 million unit sales worldwide, Depeche Mode continues to be relevant today with its latest studio release, "Sounds of the Universe," receiving a Grammy nomination in 2009 for "Best Alternative Album."

Depeche Mode has earned a well-respected place in the Top 5. No. 2 Metallica: Few bands can say that they have influenced as many of today's current rock bands, sold as many records, or stayed as relevant as can Metallica. As a pioneer in the metal genre, Metallica, to date, has released nine studio albums, three live albums, 24 music videos, and 45 singles. Metallica has earned nine Grammy awards, and has successfully released five consecutive albums to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

While Metallica started in the 1980s its story is much bigger than just one decade. Millions of fans worldwide continue to support this influential and Top 5 band from the 1980s. No. 1 Bon Jovi: According to the Billboard charts, Bon Jovi boasts two different tours in the Top 20 highest grossing tours of all time as well as four of its 11 studio albums released in the 1980s. Bon Jovi is Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame material (in spite of its 2010 unfulfilled nomination).

Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" was the top selling album of 1987. Bon Jovi has sold over 130 million records worldwide as reported by the band's official website. While not the hardest rock band in the world, Bon Jovi is one of the hardest working. Continuing to tour and sell out arena's, Bon Jovi is an irrefutable rock icon from the 1980s and well into the 2010s.

Defining what is means to be a hard rock hair band while still staying main stream, Bon Jovi's hit songs "Livin' on a Prayer," and "You Give Love a Bad Name," are still being performed at karaoke clubs by fans from all around the world.

1980s fashion in popular culture incorporated distinct trends from different eras. This helped form a cultivating movement of style. . The most conservative, more masculine fashion look that was most indicative of the 1980s was the wide use of shoulder pads. While in the 1970s the silhouette of fashion tended to be characterized by close fitting clothes on top with wider, looser clothes on the bottom, this trend completely reversed itself in the early 1980s as both men and women began to wear looser shirts and tight, close-fitting pants.

Men wore power suits as a result of the greater tendency for people to display their wealth. Brand names became increasingly important in this decade, making Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein household names. In the United States, Madonna was titled the "Material Girl" and many teenage girls looked to her for fashion statements. The popular movie Flashdance (1983) made ripped sweatshirts well-known in the general public. The television shows Dallas and Dynasty also had a similar impact.

The New Romantic was a New Wave and fashion movement that occurred primarily in British nightclubs. New romanticism emerged in the UK music scene in the early 80s as a direct backlash against the austerity of the punk movement. Where punk railed against life in Britain's council estates, the New Romantics celebrated glamour and partied regularly at local nightclubs.

The make-up was streaky and bold. The notoriously outlandish designer/club host Leigh Bowery, known for his exuberant designs, became a muse for artists such as Boy George and had grown a huge status in the early 1980s underground club scene. The early designer of the romantic look was Vivienne Westwood who designed clothing specifically for bands, such as Adam & the Ants and later developed the "pirate look."

The pirate look featured frilled "buccaneer" shirts often made of expensive fabrics. One element of this trend that went mainstream and remained popular for most of the decade were short shirt collars worn unfolded against the neck with the top one or two buttons unfastened. Except in the most conservative communities this became standard casual wear for both men and women. With the exception of business suits, to wear one's collar folded appeared awkward or stuffy.

Leggings were also very popular. ethnic shirtsHeadbands became fashionable in 1982. The trend started in California and spread across the nation. Other associated trends were leg warmers and miniskirts. Leg warmers, which had long been staple gear for professional dancers during rehearsals, became a teen trend in 1982. Miniskirts returned for the first time since the early 1970s. These styles became associated with the Valley Girl trend that was popular at the time, based on a popular song by Frank Zappa and Moon Unit Zappa.

The other fads soon spent themselves, but miniskirts remained in style and became an option for women's business suits throughout the 'eighties and early 1990s with dolly shoes. Frequently, these mini skirts were worn with leggings. Shoulder pads, popularized perhaps by Linda Evans from the soap opera Dynasty, remained popular throughout the 1980s and even the first three years of the 1990s.

The reason behind the sudden popularity of shoulderpads for women in the 1980s may be that women in the workplace were no longer unusual, and wanted to "power dress" to show that they were the equals of men at the office. Many women's outfits had velcro on the inside of the shoulder where various sized shoulderpads could be attached.

The Dynasty television show, watched by over 250 million viewers around the world in the 1980s, influenced the fashion styles in mainstream America. The show, targeted towards females, influenced women to wear jewelry often to show one's economic status. Synthetic fabrics went out of style in the 1980s. Wool, cotton, and silk returned to popularity for their perceived quality.

Men's business attire saw a return of pinstripes for the first time since the 1970s. The new pinstripes were narrower and subtler than 1930s and 1940s suits but similar to the 1970s styles. Three piece suits gradually went out of fashion in the early 'eighties and lapels on suits became very narrow (similar to 1950s styles). While vests in the 1970s had commonly been worn high with six or five buttons, those made in the early 1980s often had only four buttons and were made to be worn low. Neckties also became narrower in the 1980s and skinny versions appeared in leather.

Button down collars made a return, both for business and casual wear. Meanwhile women's fashion and business shoes returned to styles that had been popular in the 1950s and early 1960s with pointed toes and spiked heels. Some stores stocked canvas or satin covered fashion shoes in white and dyed them to the customer's preferred color. While the most popular shoes amongst young women were bright colored high heels, a trend started to emerge which saw 'Jellies' - colorful, transparent plastic flats - become popular.

80s computers

While it may seem strange to talk about a 1980s computer being an 'antique', that's really what it is. Technology has changed so quickly that computers built just 25 years ago seem hopelessly outdated. Yet for true computer geeks, 80s computers represent the start of the modern age of what has become an everyday part of our lives.

These old machines are treasured by many who snap them up on eBay and the buyers who religiously purchase and collect them. There are many sites online that contain a treasure trove of information about the1980s computer you might fondly remember from your college dorm or kitchen table. The websites often offer quality and comprehensive articles on 80s computers like the Apple McIntosh, Lisa, Newton and other IBM and IBM compatible machines including how they were made and marketed. It's a history of computing, designed to be fun.

Many sites also provide links to the hottest auctions on eBay-those involving that 1980s computer you remember! Yes, there are still plenty of working models out there, waiting to be used and prepare to face competition for something you may have thought was junk.

The laptop or smartphone you may carry around today got its start through the technology that debuted with that 80s computer you thought was so revolutionary at the time. Those actively involved in collecting or maintaining a 1980s computer will appreciate having all of the information and buying opportunities in one central location. It is very important to have quality information that you can count on, available at your finger tips for any serious collector. If you're old enough to remember them, calling them computer antiques might be sort of a depressing name, but it's actually a nod to how far our technology has come in a very short period of time.

The bad period of economy due to the 1980 recession effect was over by 1983. Since then, the economy experienced steady growth for the consecutive twenty eight quarters. The employment rate increased and mortgage rates dropped. We can hope that from 2010 onwards, the economy will keep growing steadily. Both the recessions showed the trend of recovery after initial setbacks. However, the set of problems differ from the 1980's recession to the present times.

Top of the Pops

TV output is a rich seem of changing fashion trends through the decades, particularly with style that has changed at break-neck speed during the television age. Music shows in particular have been great at recording the dress trends of young people.

As it's nearly always the young who adapt to new styles (the older generations usually take a while before they switch their dress habits), you get to see fresh, new fashion directions as if they were new and the latest trend. The 1980s were an incredible period for rapid change. Re-runs of the famous Top of the Pops from this era show the obvious transformation from aged-hippy seventies influence at the beginning of the decade to the slightly more tailored, almost business-like, styles that crept in as things started to get a bit yuppie'r.

You could claim that even though style has ebbed and flowed ever since, something of that late-80s styling has remained popular. That was the period when food became more of a talking point, for example, and when the seeds of our grooming, art, home design and music habits were sown.

No-one is sure if it's because the eighties revival scene is on the up again, or simply because of this amended outlook on the things we desire, clothing from the 1980s (and I refer to vintage clothing that was worn by the masses in the Eighties) can still hold it's own. The clothes we wear for celebrations and special occasions exhibit this perfectly.

The designs of the 1980s made us look slim and subtly glamorous enough to appear smart and stylish without looking like you're trying too hard. Of course, you can expect shiny and sparkly bits and some rather outlandish printed designs, but these colours rarely took the attention away from the slim Eighties fashion look.

Whether it's a sleeveless top, a flowing evening top or a full evening gown, the look was always lady-like, appropriately flaunty and, most importantly, fun. If you thought Andie Walsh was certainly pretty in pink (and a generation of boys grew up insisting that she was), then you'll identify with the attraction of this era's party fashions. Dressing with style for a party, especially when your nine to five was absolutely not (which was true for much of the working class in the 1980s) was not something to be worried or concerned about; it was something to be enjoyed.

Spending the night listening and dancing to music about earning bonuses and living the high life might be mocked as pointless escapism, but only by those who have no desire to escape. And let's not forget that behind the glamorous exterior of 1980s culture was a darkness and a sarcasm that was lost on all but the most astute observers of the time.

There's another angle that is worth commenting on, too … you can read far too much into a nice sparkly top! You don't need to be an Eighties fan to choose a supreme example of 1980s evening chic for your night out. You just have to be a person who understands that style and fun are pretty much timeless. It's only bad taste that truly fixes itself inseparably to an era.

The Iran-Iraq War

The Iran-Iraq War permanently altered the course of Iraqi history. It strained Iraqi political and social life, and led to severe economic dislocations. Viewed from a historical perspective, the outbreak of hostilities in 1980 was, in part, just another phase of the ancient Persian-Arab conflict that had been fueled by twentieth-century border disputes.

Many observers, however, believe that Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran was a personal miscalculation based on ambition and a sense of vulnerability. Saddam Hussein, despite having made significant strides in forging an Iraqi nation-state, feared that Iran's new revolutionary leadership would threaten Iraq's delicate SunniShia balance and would exploit Iraq's geostrategic vulnerabilities--Iraq's minimal access to the Persian Gulf, for example.

In this respect, Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran has historical precedent; the ancient rulers of Mesopotamia, fearing internal strife and foreign conquest, also engaged in frequent battles with the peoples of the highlands. The Iran-Iraq War was multifaceted and included religious schisms, border disputes, and political differences.

Conflicts contributing to the outbreak of hostilities ranged from centuries-old Sunni-versus-Shia and Arab-versus-Persian religious and ethnic disputes, to a personal animosity between Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. Above all, Iraq launched the war in an effort to consolidate its rising power in the Arab world and to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state. Phebe Marr, a noted analyst of Iraqi affairs, stated that "the war was more immediately the result of poor political judgement and miscalculation on the part of Saddam Hussein," and "the decision to invade, taken at a moment of Iranian weakness, was Saddam's".

Iraq claimed territories inhabited by Arabs (the Southwestern oil-producing province of Iran called Khouzestan), as well as Iraq's right over Shatt el-Arab (Arvandroud). Iraq and Iran had engaged in border clashes for many years and had revived the dormant Shatt al Arab waterway dispute in 1979. Iraq claimed the 200-kilometer channel up to the Iranian shore as its territory, while Iran insisted that the thalweg--a line running down the middle of the waterway--negotiated last in 1975, was the official border.

The Iraqis, especially the Baath leadership, regarded the 1975 treaty as merely a truce, not a definitive settlement. The Iraqis also perceived revolutionary Iran's Islamic agenda as threatening to their pan-Arabism. Khomeini, bitter over his expulsion from Iraq in 1977 after fifteen years in An Najaf, vowed to avenge Shia victims of Baathist repression.

Baghdad became more confident, however, as it watched the once invincible Imperial Iranian Army disintegrate, as most of its highest ranking officers were executed. In Khuzestan (Arabistan to the Iraqis), Iraqi intelligence officers incited riots over labor disputes, and in the Kurdish region, a new rebellion caused the Khomeini government severe troubles. As the Baathists planned their military campaign, they had every reason to be confident.

Not only did the Iranians lack cohesive leadership, but the Iranian armed forces, according to Iraqi intelligence estimates, also lacked spare parts for their American-made equipment. Baghdad, on the other hand, possessed fully equipped and trained forces. Morale was running high. Against Iran's armed forces, including the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guard) troops, led by religious mullahs with little or no military experience, the Iraqis could muster twelve complete mechanized divisions, equipped with the latest Soviet materiel.

With the Iraqi military buildup in the late 1970s, Saddam Hussein had assembled an army of 190,000 men, augmented by 2,200 tanks and 450 aircraft. In addition, the area across the Shatt al Arab posed no major obstacles, particularly for an army equipped with Soviet river-crossing equipment.

Iraqi commanders correctly assumed that crossing sites on the Khardeh and Karun rivers were lightly defended against their mechanized armor divisions; moreover, Iraqi intelligence sources reported that Iranian forces in Khuzestan, which had formerly included two divisions distributed among Ahvaz, Dezful, and Abadan, now consisted of only a number of ill-equipped battalion-sized formations.

Tehran was further disadvantaged because the area was controlled by the Regional 1st Corps headquartered at Bakhtaran (formerly Kermanshah), whereas operational control was directed from the capital. In the year following the shah's overthrow, only a handful of company-sized tank units had been operative, and the rest of the armored equipment had been poorly maintained.

For Iraqi planners, the only uncertainty was the fighting ability of the Iranian air force, equipped with some of the most sophisticated American-made aircraft. Despite the execution of key air force commanders and pilots, the Iranian air force had displayed its might during local riots and demonstrations.

The air force was also active in the wake of the failed United States attempt to rescue American hostages in April 1980. This show of force had impressed Iraqi decision makers to such an extent that they decided to launch a massive preemptive air strike on Iranian air bases in an effort similar to the one that Israel employed during the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

The Hillsborough Disaster

The Hillsborough Disaster was a human crush that occurred on 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough, a football stadium, the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C. in Sheffield, England, resulting in the deaths of 96 people, all fans of Liverpool F.C. It remains the deadliest stadium-related disaster in British history and one of the worst in international football accidents that has ever occurred.

It was the second of two stadium-related disasters involving Liverpool supporters, the other being the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985. The match, an FA Cup semi-final tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, was abandoned seven minutes into the game. The inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report, named the cause as failure of police control, and resulted in the conversion of many football stadiums in the United Kingdom to all-seater and the removal of barriers at the front of stands.

The result was that an influx of many thousands of fans through a narrow tunnel at the rear of the terrace, and into the two already overcrowded central pens, caused a huge crush at the front of the terrace, where people were being pressed up against the fencing by the weight of the crowd behind them.

The people entering were unaware of the problems at the fence; police or stewards would normally have stood at the entrance to the tunnel if the central pens had reached capacity, and would have directed fans to the side pens, but on this occasion they did not, for reasons which have never been fully explained.

Liverpool fans desperately try to climb the fence onto the safety of the pitch For some time, the problem at the front of the pen was not noticed by anybody other than those affected; the attention of most people was absorbed by the match, which had already begun. It was not until 3:06 pm that the referee, Ray Lewis, after being advised by the police, stopped the match several minutes after fans had started climbing the fence to escape the crush.

By this time, a small gate in the fencing had been forced open and some fans escaped via this route; others continued to climb over the fencing, and still other fans were pulled to safety by fellow fans in the West Stand directly above the Leppings Lane terrace. Finally the fence broke under pressure of people. Fans were packed so tightly in the pens that many died standing up of compressive asphyxia.

The pitch quickly started to fill with people sweating and gasping for breath and injured by crushing, and with the bodies of the dead. The police, stewards and ambulance service present at the stadium were overwhelmed. Uninjured fans helped as best they could, many attempting CPR and some tearing down advertising hoardings to act as makeshift stretchers.

As these events unfolded, some police officers were still being deployed to make a cordon three-quarters of the way down the pitch, with the aim of preventing Liverpool supporters reaching the Nottingham Forest supporters at the opposite end of the stadium.

Some fans tried to break through the police cordon to ferry injured supporters to waiting ambulances, and were forcibly turned back. 44 ambulances had arrived at the stadium, but police prevented all but one from entering, and that one was forced to turn back due to the vast number of people who needed help. This link will show you how the disaster happened. A total of 94 people died on the day, with 766 other fans being injured and around 300 being hospitalised.


94 people whose ages ranged from 10 to 67 years died on the day, with 766 other fans injured: around 300 of whom were hospitalised. Four days later, on 19 April, the death toll reached 95 when a 14-year-old boy named Lee Nicol - attached to a life support machine - succumbed to the crush injuries he had received at Hillsborough.

The final death toll reached 96 in March 1993, when artificial feeding and hydration of 22-year-old Tony Bland was withdrawn after nearly four years, during which he had been in a Persistent vegetative state and shown no sign of improvement.

Andrew Devine, aged 22 at the time of the disaster, suffered similar injuries to Tony Bland and was later diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, but in March 1997 - a month before the eighth anniversary of the disaster - it was reported that he had emerged from the condition and was now able to communicate using a touch-sensitive pad. 79 of the fatalities were aged 30 or younger. Two sisters, three pairs of brothers and a father and son were among the fatalities.

BBC Television's cameras were at the ground to record the match for their Match of the Day programme, but as the disaster unfolded the events were then relayed to their live sports show, Grandstand, resulting in an extreme emotional impact on the general British population. There was commentary afterwards on television[citation needed] about the lack of administrable oxygen and metal-cutting tools, and that there was no way to get ambulances onto the pitch.

John Lennon

John Lennon was an English rock musician who gained worldwide fame as one of the founders of The Beatles, for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism. He was shot by Mark David Chapman at the entrance of the building where he lived, The Dakota, on Monday, 8 December 1980; Lennon had just returned from the Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where it was stated that nobody could have lived for more than a few minutes after sustaining such injuries.

Shortly after local news stations reported Lennon's death, crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of The Dakota. He was cremated on 10 December 1980, at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him.

On the morning of 8 December 1980, photographer Annie Leibovitz went to Ono and Lennon's apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone. She had promised Lennon a photo with Ono would make the cover, but initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone.

Leibovitz recalled that "nobody wanted [Ono] on the cover". Lennon insisted that both he and his wife be on the cover, and after shooting the pictures, Leibovitz left their apartment. After the photo shoot Lennon gave what would be his last ever interview to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin for a music show on the RKO Radio Network. At 5:00 p.m., Lennon and Ono left their apartment to mix the track "Walking on Thin Ice", an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar, at Record Plant Studio.

As Lennon and Ono walked to their limousine, they were approached by several people seeking autographs, among them, Mark David Chapman. It was common for fans to wait outside the Dakota to see Lennon and get his autograph. Chapman, a 25-year-old hospital worker from Honolulu, Hawaii, had first come to New York to kill Lennon in November but changed his mind and returned home.

He silently handed Lennon a copy of Double Fantasy, and Lennon obliged with an autograph. After signing the album Lennon politely asked him, "Is this all you want?" Chapman nodded in agreement. Photographer and Lennon fan Paul Goresh snapped a photo of the encounter.

Police artist's drawing of the murder The Lennons spent several hours at the Record Plant studio before returning to the Dakota at about 10:50 p.m. Lennon decided against eating out so he could be home in time to say goodnight to five-year-old son Sean before he went to sleep and because Lennon liked to oblige any fans with autographs or pictures that had been waiting a long time to see him outside his home. They exited their limousine on 72nd Street, even though the car could have been driven into the more secure courtyard.


Abscam was the FBI's operational name for its 1980 "Arab Scam" sting. The sting was executed using FBI agents posing as two fictitious sheiks seeking to bribe local, state and federal officials and eventually netted the convictions of seven members of Congress. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) was videotaped agreeing to help one of the sheiks in exchange for an investment in his district and showed a willingness to possibly accept money in the future, but took no bribe and was not indicted in the scandal. An FBI agent masqueraded as "Sheik Kambir Abdul Rahman" in the sting.

The sheik and other agents masquerading as his American employees purported to have millions in a Chase Manhattan bank account that they wished to invest in an American titanium mine, New Jersey casinos and East Coast port facilities.

They also purported a desire to bribe various local, state and federal officials in order to facilitate and protect their investments. An FBI agent played an additional wealthy sheik, Yasser Habib, who claimed he feared radicals would force him from to flee his country and thus sought asylum in the U.S.

The sting spanned 23 months, involved 100 agents and cost $800,000 The Abscam sting started with then-mayor of Camden and New Jersey state Sen. Angelo Errichetti. FBI cameras caught Errichetti cutting a deal with agents playing aides to "Sheik Rahman" to help him make investments in the Camden seaport and a casino in Atlantic City in exchange for a $400,000 fee. Errichetti took $25,000, cash, as a down payment and said that Casino Control Commission Vice Chairman Kenneth MacDonald would also require $100,000 to obtain the casino license.

The FBI later filmed Errichetti and MacDonald picking up the $100,000. Errichetti then showed up at a March 1979 meeting with Sheik Rahman on the FBI's camera-equipped yacht in Delray Beach, Fla. Accompanying him was then-Sen. Harrison "Pete" Williams (D-N.J.). The sheik said he wanted to invest in casinos and land in Atlantic City and a titanium mine in Virginia, but needed help navigating the political and business waters of the U.S. Williams told the sheik's interpreter (who "translated" into nonsense approximating Arabic), "You tell the sheik I'll do all I can. You tell him I'll deliver my end."

Over the next several months, Williams and the sheik's men struck a deal by which Williams would convince government officials to seek military contracts to help the mine thrive. In return Williams received a share of the mine's stock (which the sheik had invested $100 million in) made out to an associate of the senator's, Alexander Feinberg, who promptly endorsed the stock back over to Williams.

The FBI filmed all the transactions. Williams was also filmed boasting that he had helped a hotel company save $3 million by using his influence with the casino commission to secure approval for the renovation—rather than a rebuilding—of one of the company's casinos. That same company had employed William's wife as a consultant for $18,000 a year while she was also on the payroll of the Senate Labor Committee, which Williams then chaired.

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally... is a 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the title characters from the time they meet on a cross-country carpool ride, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question "Can men and women ever just be friends?" and advances many ideas about love that have become household concepts now, such as the "high-maintenance" girlfriend and the "transitional person".

The origins of the film came from Reiner's return to single life after a divorce. Ephron interviewed Reiner and it provided the basis for Harry. Sally was based on Ephron and some of her friends. Crystal came on board and made his own contributions to the screenplay, making Harry funnier. Ephron supplied the structure of the film with much of the dialogue based on the real-life friendship between Reiner and Crystal.

The soundtrack consists of standards performed by Harry Connick, Jr., with a big band and orchestra arranged by Marc Shaiman. Connick won his first Grammy for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance. Israeli tanks and troops today invaded southern Lebanon after Hizbullah captured two soldiers and killed several others.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, described the capture of the soldiers an "act of war" by Lebanon, with today's developments compounding the ongoing political crisis over an abducted Israeli soldier being held in Gaza. Palestinian militants holding Corporal Gilad Shalit have demanded that all Palestinian women and young people held in Israeli jails be freed in exchange for his release.

The Bush administration blamed Syria and Iran for today's kidnappings and violence, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers. Hizbullah said it would not release them until Israel agreed to set free all Arab prisoners. Its capture of the soldiers is a huge political embarrassment to Mr Olmert, coming only weeks after the seizure of Cpl Shalit last month. He will be concerned that Hamas and Hizbullah could start working together to demand the release of prisoners as a condition for freeing the missing soldiers.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles, a man with a talent and imagination so prodigious that he spanned radio, films, television, books and theater and excelled in them all? From his first film masterpiece, CITIZEN KANE -- more often than not described as one of the best movies ever made -- to his checkered career fighting for funding to realize his directorial vision, Welles stands alone, holding a special place in the pantheon of cinematic greats.

Welles himself (in F FOR FAKE) made the self-deprecating remark, "I began at the top and have been working my way down ever since," referring to the popular misconception that his post-KANE career somehow never delivered on his initial promise.

In reality, Welles delivered again and again on that promise, in such dazzling and unexpected ways that audiences, critics and other filmmakers are still trying to catch up. It was a polar surge in 1986 that caused the destruction of the space shuttle ‘Challenger’.

On the morning of 28th January 1986 large quantities of ice coated the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. NASA decided to go ahead with the launch despite the warnings from the manufacturers of the solid rocket boosters that the ‘O’ rings might not perform their function of sealing possible fuel links at such cold temperatures. Sadly the engineers were proved right as the world watched Challenger explode shortly after lift off.

Bette Davis

Bette Davis (actress, born April 5, 1908, Lowell, MA; died October 6, 1989) Often referred to as "The First Lady of the American Screen," Bette Davis was most recognized by her succinct, deep-timbered, slightly grave, no-nonsense voice. After several years of fighting through three serious illnesses and "learning to walk again twice," she returned to work on October 30, 1984, starring with Helen Hayes and John Mills in Agatha Christie's "Murder With Mirrors," a television movie which was broadcast early the following year on the CBS Television Network.

On the first morning of filming in the fog-drenched, soggy gardens of a "stately home" in Hertfordshire, England, she proclaimed it "one of the really wonderful days of my life." The actress, whose career spanned six decades, was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, where her father, Harlow Davis, had a law practice. After the divorce of her parents in 1916, she and her sister Barbara and their mother, Ruth Favor Davis, who had taken up photography as a profession, lived in various New England communities.

While in her freshmen year of high school, Bette abandoned plans to become a dancer in favor of an acting career. After performing in school productions, summer stock and with semi-professional groups, she went to New York for an interview with Eva LeGallienne. The established actress found her lacking in seriousness and advised her to study in some other field.

Undaunted, she enrolled--and later won a scholarship to--John Murray Anderson's acting school in New York. From there, she joined George Cukor's stock company playing at the Lyceum Theatre in Rochester and made her professional debut in Broadway. After a season with the Provincetown Players in New York City and two Ibsen roles with a touring repertory company, Davis bowed on Broadway in the domestic comedy Broken Dishes.

The following year, while appearing in a short-lived Broadway play Solid South, she made a screen test for Universal Pictures and was signed. She arrived in Hollywood as a contract actress in December, 1930. She made her film debut in 1931 in Bad Sister.

Her major achievements began, however, with the film version of Somerset Maugham's novel Of Human Bondage in 1934 and continued with her two Academy Award-winning roles as Best Actress--for Dangerous in 1935 and Jezebel in 1938. She also earned eight additional Oscar nominations, for Dark Victory, The Letter, The Little Foxes, Now Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, All About Eve, The Star, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She was also named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics for her role as Margo Channing in All About Eve, establishing the much imitated line "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night." She developed a reputation for cajoling and even badgering Warner Brothers into buying stories she believed in, such as Jezebel, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Now Voyager, and Dark Victory.

"You know it took me three years to get Mr. Warner (Jack L. Warner) to make Dark Victory," she recalled in 1984. "He said, 'Who wants to see a story about a girl who dies?' But he saw it was a great part and finally let me do it. I never thought it was sad. It was very hopeful, and I loved doing it." "I miss motion picture executives like Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Darryl Zanuck," she added. "They were gamblers.

They gave us all a chance. They gave me a career." The actress's career had its "bumpy nights"--and days--but its highlights have outshone them. She sailed smoothly into the age of television, winning an Emmy Award for her performance in the drama Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter. Other television films in which she starred are While Mama, The Disappearance of Aimee, The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, Family Reunion, and Right of Way.

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is a British author who was born in India. In 1988, he wrote the highly acclaimed book, The Satanic Verses. Shortly after that, India banned the book. In the U.S., the publisher received bomb threats. The book was then banned in South Africa. Soon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Qatar banned the book.

There were book burnings in England. In Pakistan, six people died and 100 were injured in demonstrations against the book. Then on Feb. 12, 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran, declared that the book was blasphemous, and called for the death of Rushdie. Rushdie went into hiding, with protection by the British government.

An Iranian charity offered a million dollars reward (later raised to 2.5 million) for Rushdie's murder. Two bookstores in Berkeley California were firebombed. Twelve people died during rioting in Bombay. Britain broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. In Belgium, two Muslim leaders who opposed Rushdie's death penalty were shot to death. Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Poland and Japan banned the book. The Ayatollah Khomeini died, and the Iranian government reaffirmed Rushdie's death penalty.

Five bookstores in England were firebombed. The Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death. The Italian translator was seriously wounded. The Norwegian publisher was shot and seriously wounded. The book became a best-seller. That Ayatollah sure knew how to sell books. Rushdie explained that his book is not antireligious, and apologized that it had offended so many Muslims.

The book begins rousingly as the two main characters (Gabreel and Saladin) are falling through the air, victims of the terrorist bombing of a jetliner. They miraculously survive. Gabreel, who had doubts about Islam, develops a halo, and begins to look like the angel Gabriel; Saladin grows horns, hooves, and a tail and looks like Satan. Much of the book tells of their adventures in these forms. Most of the controversy involves Gabreel's dreams.

He dreams of a false prophet called Mahound (historically a derogatory name for Muhammad) who establishes a false religion. He also dreams that prostitutes took on the names of Muhammad's wives, in order to attract Muslims. In the end, Saladin returns happily to India, and Gabreel loses his faith and commits suicide.

At first thought, it seems that all of these Muslims misunderstood Rushdie's intent, for he was not trying to lead anyone away from Islam. Instead he was telling a story about a fictional character's doubts about Islam. But maybe all of those Muslims really did understand Rushdie's intent. Maybe doubt is the greatest of their fears. They seem to be willing to riot, die, and commit murder in response to the mere possiblity of doubt. Other Islamic authors have been the targets of violence, threats of violence, and censorship.

In 1992, Farag Fouda, a popular Egyptian writer was murdered by terrorists for speaking out against censorship. In 1994, Naguib Mahfouz, a Nobel prize winning, Egyptian author was stabbed repeatedly in the neck, by terrorists, but survived. Egyptian Nawal El Saadawi's feminist writings have been banned; she was imprisoned for writing political criticism, and she fled to the U. S. because of death threats. Taslima Nasrin, a feminist writer and critic of Islam, from Bangledesh, has been threatened with death and imprisonment, and is in hiding in the west.

HIV infections

HIV infections began to spread extensively shortly before or after 1980. Through the 1980s, the population “groups” affected predominantly were men who had sex with other men and injecting drug users (IDU). In 1985, the majority (63 percent) of European adult AIDS cases were attributed to transmission among homo/bisexual men.

In contrast, by 1992, only 42 percent of the reported adult AIDS cases were due to transmission among homo/bisexual men. The proportion of European AIDS case infected through IDU increased from 5 percent in 1985 to 36 percent in the early 1990’s. In Spain and Italy, the major form of HIV transmission has been IDU. In France, Germany and the United Kingdom, it is through men who have sex with men.

By the early 1990’s, the United States reported that among adults, 57 percent of AIDS cases were infected through male-to-male sex Data on newly diagnosed HIV infections are now being used to track the HIV epidemic in Europe and provide more relevant information on the current HIV situation since the widespread use of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) in 1996. The number of AIDS cases diagnosed in 2001 was only one-third of that in 1995.

However, data for the first 6 months of 2002 suggest that AIDS incidence is now leveling off. The rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections has increased by 14% between 1997 and 2001. By transmission group the number of new diagnoses decreased slowly among homo/bisexual men and IDU while it has increased steadily among heterosexual contact. However, analysis of these increases indicates that they are mostly due to persons originating from a country with a generalized HIV epidemic.

Saddam Hussein

The United States faced significant security challenges in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Revolution in Iran had replaced Washington’s ally, In September 1980, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein seized upon the chaos in Iran by sending Iraqi forces to capture the oil resources located across the border in southern Iran. However, Iran fended off the assault and drove Saddam’s forces back into Iraq, where the fighting bogged down. Despite repeated offensives costing hundreds of thousands of lives, the Iranians were unable to defeat Iraq, and the war stalemated into a bloody struggle, eerily reminiscent of the First World War.

Fearing an Iranian victory and the export of its Shiite revolution to Iraq, the pro-Western Gulf Coop-eration Council (GCC) nations—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—provided Iraq with US$25–$65 billion in assistance.

Kuwait allowed weapons des-tined for Iraq to transit its ports; in one week alone, ships arrived at Kuwaiti harbors delivering nearly a brigade’s worth of T-72 tanks. In 1984, the Iran-Iraq War spilled into the Persian Gulf: In an attempt to force Iran to accept a ceasefire, Iraq initiated the so-called Tanker War by attacking Iranian oil tankers. Iran responded by attacking ships destined for Iraq’s financial supporters, particularly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

On May 13, 1984, an Iranian F-4E fighter-bomber attacked the 80,000-ton Kuwaiti tanker Umm Casbah as it steamed off the Saudi coast car- carrying a load of petroleum for the United Kingdom. These attacks marked a major escalation in the war: By the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian forces had attacked 190 ships from 31 nations, killing at least 63 sailors.

The United States responded to the Iranian military threat by strengthening the military capabilities of the GCC nations, which established their own rapid deployment force called the Peninsula Shield Force, head quartered in Saudi Arabia. Washington tried to augment the new force with a Gulf-wide integrated air defense system. Early warning radars around the Gulf were linked with Hawk surface-to-air missiles in Kuwait and the UAE, and with Saudi Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and F-15 fighters. “The idea then and now,” Richard Armitage, then assistant secretary of defence for international security policy, said later, “was to create a GCC with some teeth in it.”2 But old antagonisms frustrated these efforts.

The Gulf Arab states remained divided over long-standing disputes and were justifiably nervous about publicly cooperating with the United States against their powerful Iranian neighbour. The U.S. air defense system did have one notable success. In response to Iranian air attacks, the Saudis established an air defence zone (known as the “Fahd Line”) over their offshore oil facilities in the northern Gulf. On June 5, 1984, a U.S. AWACS stationed in Saudi Arabia detected an Iranian F-4 fighter crossing the Fahd Line. Two Saudi F-15s intercepted and shot down the Iranian aircraft with a Sidewinder missile.

Both sides scrambled nearly a dozen additional aircraft, and it looked as though a major dogfight was about to ensue over the Gulf. However, Iran recalled its aircraft, avoiding a major confrontation. In 1986, the growing conflict in the Persian Gulf forced Washington to intervene more directly.

On January 12, 1986, Iranians stopped and briefly boarded the American President Lines ship President Taylor searching for military supplies headed for Iraq.5 With the hijack- ing of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro only three months earlier, in which an elderly American citizen was shot and killed, the Reagan administration was in no mood to risk another crisis with a country that had a track record of taking American hostages.6 In November, news broke of secret U.S. arms sales to Iran.

This disclosure effectively ended a reconciliation effort by the administration with Iran through what current secretary of defense Robert Gates recently called “the search for the elusive Iranian moderate.”7 Meanwhile, the Iran-Iraq War reached new levels of violence.

In February 1986, Iran amassed more than 100,000 men, crossed the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and captured the strategic al-Faw Peninsula. In response, Iraq escalated its attacks on Iranian shipping, and Iran retaliated in kind by attacking tankers headed to the Gulf states, including one tanker waiting to take on a cargo of crude oil in Dubai. In September 1986, Iran’s fury shifted again to Kuwait, with twenty-eight of the next thirty-one attacks directed at Kuwait-bound shipping.

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