RUSSIA: ‘ THIRTY YEARS ON FROM PERESTROIKA & REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE ‘

#AceHistoryNews – RUSSIA:March.24: Thirty years ago on March.11 the Kremlin, the Soviet Politburo unanimously elected its youngest member, Mikhail Gorbachev, to the pinnacle of Soviet power General Secretary of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

This election ushered in the "perestroika" period of revolutionary change, which led to the end of the Cold War, democratization of the Soviet Union, and ultimately to the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet empire.

Gorbachev had come to Moscow only a few years earlier, in 1978, to serve as the party secretary for Agriculture. His rise was indeed meteoric. Under General Secretary Yuri Andropov (1982-84), Gorbachev essentially became number two in the party and a perceived successor to Andropov.

From modest beginnings at the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in 1986, perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of economic, political, and social restructuring, became the unintended catalyst for dismantling what had taken nearly three-quarters of a century to erect: the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist totalitarian state.

The world watched in disbelief but with growing admiration as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan, democratic governments overturned Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, Germany was reunited, the Warsaw Pact withered away, and the Cold War came to an abrupt end.

In the Soviet Union itself, however, reactions to the new policies were mixed. Reform policies rocked the foundation of entrenched traditional power bases in the party, economy, and society but did not replace them entirely. Newfound freedoms of assembly, speech, and religion, the right to strike, and multi-candidate elections undermined not only the Soviet Union’s authoritarian structures, but also the familiar sense of order and predictability. Long-suppressed, bitter inter-ethnic, economic, and social grievances led to clashes, strikes, and growing crime rates.

Gorbachev introduced policies designed to begin establishing a market economy by encouraging limited private ownership and profitability in Soviet industry and agriculture. But the Communist control system and over-centralization of power and privilege were maintained and new policies produced no economic miracles. Instead, lines got longer for scarce goods in the stores, civic unrest mounted, and bloody crackdowns claimed lives, particularly in the restive nationalist populations of the outlying Caucasus and Baltic states.

On August 19, 1991, conservative elements in Gorbachev’s own administration launched an abortive coup d’‚tat to prevent the signing of a new union treaty the following day and to restore the party’s power and authority. Boris Yeltsin, who had become Russia’s first popularly elected president in June 1991, made the seat of government of his Russian republic, known as the White House, the rallying point for resistance to the organizers of the coup. Under his leadership, Russia embarked on even more far- reaching reforms as the Soviet Union broke up into its constituent republics and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States.

According to the documents as well as diaries and memoirs, Gorbachev was a straight arrow, not a dissident, but a reformer within the system. His top priorities were to reform the Soviet economy, end the war in Afghanistan, and end the nuclear arms race to direct the peace dividend to domestic reform.

It helped him that at the time, the entire Soviet elite was ready for change and saw in him the potential to make the Soviet system stronger and more vibrant. The documents published here show Gorbachev’s first efforts to achieve his goals from the conversation with Afghan Communist leader Babrak Karmal to the launch of the anti-alcohol campaign, to the first conversation with President Ronald Reagan.

This selection of documents from all seven years of the perestroika era attempts to give the reader a sense of the scope of this revolutionary transformation, not just of the Soviet Union, but of the world.

The documents cover the most important issues that confronted Soviet leaders in this period the reform of the Warsaw Pact and relations with socialist allies from the beginning and to the crumbling of the Pact, arms control and the key U.S.-Soviet interactions, relations with West European countries, and Soviet activities in the Third World.

Disclaimer: This post is not all written by ACE NEWS GROUP. The original sources of this article can be found here & here:

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ISRAEL: ‘ PORCUPINE UNEARTHS 1,400 YEAR-OLD OIL LAMP ‘

#AceHistoryNews – ISRAEL:March.23: Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a 1,400 year old ceramic oil lamp with the help of an unlikely aide – a porcupine.

Last week, during a routine patrol at the Horbat Siv ancient ruins – a Roman-Byzantine site near Emek Hefer in central Israel, anti-antiquities theft inspectors found the oil lamp on top of a pile of dirt that a porcupine had unearthed while digging a burrow.

Porcupine’s live in underground burrows that can stretch to as long as 15 meters.

Ira Horovitz from the anti-antiquities theft unit of the IAA said that "the porcupine is an excellent archaeologist, a relentless digger…It often happens that porcupines dig their burrows at the site of archaeological digs…he skillfully throws the dirt aside, and with it whatever archaeological findings are in his path."

IAA researchers inspected the ceramic piece and the other findings that the porcupine uncovered, realizing that the findings provided information on the time frame in which people inhabited the ancient site.

"The IAA calls on all porcupines to avoid digging burrows at archaeological sites and warns that digging at an archaeological site without a license is a criminal offense," the Antiquities Authority jested.

Disclaimer:
This article is not written by ACE NEWS GROUP. The original source of this article can be found here:

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SNIPPETS OF HISTORY: ‘ Three-Cent Nickel Introduced & Signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 & Abolished by Congress in 1890 ‘

#AceHistoryNews – March.21: The three-cent nickel was designed by the US Mint’s Chief Engraver James B. Longacre and struck by the mint from 1865 to 1889.

When precious metal coinage was hoarded during the economic turmoil of the American Civil War, including the silver three-cent piece, and even the copper- nickel cent was commanding a premium, Congress issued paper money in denominations as small as three cents, but these small slips of paper became ragged and dirty.

After the issue of a lighter bronze cent and a two-cent piece in 1864, there were proposals for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel. The advocates were led by Pennsylvania industrialist Joseph Wharton, who then controlled the domestic supply of nickel ore.

On the last day of the congressional session, March 3, 1865, a bill for a three-cent piece in copper-nickel alloy was introduced in Congress, passed by both houses without debate, and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Although initially popular, the three-cent nickel piece became less so with the introduction in 1866 of the five-cent nickel, a larger, more convenient coin, with a value better fitting the decimal system.

After 1870, most years saw low annual mintages for the three-cent nickel, and in 1890 Congress abolished it.

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MEMORIES AS A BOY: ‘ Audie Murphy Decorated War Hero On & Off The Silver Screen ‘

#AceHistoryNews – March.21: When l was just a boy l remember the good olde westerns and the men that wore the white hats were goodies and black hats were baddies, of course over time Hollywood changed this scenario. But even with a black hat Audie Murphy (1925–1971), was still one of my all time heroes. Though he was a consummate goodie in his real life gaining many commendations, and eventually being buried with honours at Arlington National Cemetery. So l had to do a little research on his life, finding out he truly was a hero on and off the silver screen.

He was in point of fact one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.

Coming from a poor sharecropping family of Irish descent in Texas, he served in nine World War II campaigns, receiving the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France.

After the war, he appeared in more than forty feature films, mostly westerns; his most successful film was To Hell and Back (1955), based on his war memoirs.

During the Korean War, Murphy was commissioned as an officer in the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard. Possessing a natural gift for rhyme, he collaborated on numerous songs between 1962 and 1970.

He suffered from what would today be termed posttraumatic stress disorder, and was plagued by money problems in the last few years of his life, but refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials to avoid setting a bad example.

Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia, and was interred with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery. his biography of his life can be found here.

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SNIPPETS OF HISTORY: ‘ Herges Adventures of Tintin Success & Failure over Depiction of Africans in the Congo ‘

#AceHistoryNews – March.21: Tintin in the Congo is the second volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Commissioned by the conservative newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century) for its children’s supplement, it was serialised weekly from May 1930 to June 1931.

The story tells of young reporter Tintin, who is sent to the Belgian Congo with his dog Snowy. Encountering native Congolese people and wild animals, Tintin unearths a diamond smuggling operation run by the American gangster Al Capone. Following Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and bolstered by publicity stunts, it was a commercial success and appeared in book form shortly after the serial’s conclusion.

The Tintin series grew over the 1930s and 1940s to become a defining part of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition. In 1946, Hergé re-drew and coloured Tintin in the Congo in his distinctive style of uniform lines and low contrast for republication by Casterman, revised for a 1975 edition.

In the late 20th century, Tintin in the Congo was criticised for its representation of big-game hunting and for its typically colonial depictions of Africans as unable to fend for themselves and in need of European masters.

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SNIPPETS OF HISTORY: ‘ Tosa-Class Battleships Were Two Dreadnoughts Ordered by Japanese Navy ‘

#AceHistoryNews – March.21: The Tosa-class battleships were two dreadnoughts ordered by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the early 1920s. The ships were larger versions of the preceding Nagato class, and carried an additional 41-centimeter (16.1 in) twin-gun turret; their design served as a basis for the Amagi-class battlecruisers.

The first ship, Tosa, was canceled according to the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty before it could be completed, and was used in experiments testing the effectiveness of its armor scheme before being scuttled in the Bungo Channel.

The hull of the second ship, Kaga (model pictured), was converted into an aircraft carrier of the same name. The carrier supported Japanese troops in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War of the late 1930s, and took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942.

The following month her aircraft participated in a combined carrier airstrike on Darwin, Australia, during the Dutch East Indies campaign. She was sunk during the Battle of Midway in 1942.
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UNITED NATIONS: ‘ ISSUE OF DISARMAMENT & ARMS REGULATION POST-WORLD WAR II & SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS ‘

#AceHistoryNews – March.09: In 1945, when the United Nations was founded, the issue of disarmament and arms regulation was given a very prominent place in the post-World War II security arrangements.

The Security Council was given the principal responsibility to address this problem.

It was recognised in the UN Charter that the proliferation of arms of all kinds presented an ongoing risk to international security and constituted a huge opportunity cost, in terms of economic and social development, if resources were diverted towards arms.

This consensus was reflected in article 26 of the UN Charter which gives the Security Council the lead responsibility to develop plans and oversee programs of disarmament and arms regulation.

This was in a sense the first thematic mandate for the Security Council. And it lends itself well to the cross-cutting methodology employed in this series of studies by Security Council Report, under which we examine thematic responsibilities of the Security Council and assess how these have evolved, both at the level of generic development and in terms of application to country-specific situations on the Council’s agenda.

At the outset, the Council tried to apply this mandate as intended in the UN Charter with a number of initiatives in the arena of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. However, the problems of the Cold War quickly stifled any hope of progress. And for most of its first forty years—coinciding with the Cold War—those dynamics effectively drove questions of disarmament and arms control outside the Council.

To the extent that these were subject to multilateral negotiation at all, this took place mainly in the General Assembly and the UN Conference on Disarmament, or outside the UN altogether and at the bilateral level involving the main Cold War protagonists, the US and the USSR.

The end of the Cold War did not bring the progress on arms control and disarmament that might have been expected. To the contrary, an even deeper malaise in the multilateral arms control negotiating environment seemed to set in. There was a complete stalemate for over a decade in the UN institutions set up by the General Assembly for this purpose.

In 2009, however, some initial signs of a more positive trend began to emerge:

  • First, on 5 April US President Barack Obama, in a speech in Prague, pledged to reduce the US nuclear stockpile and committed to work with others to do the same with an ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. He also committed to support the treaty banning nuclear testing (CTBT) and a new treaty to end production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
  • On 16 April, in the context of small arms President Obama announced in Mexico that he would push for ratification of the inter-American arms treaty designed to curb the flow of light weapons and ammunition in the region.
  • In spite of previous failures, in May the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference made encouraging progress.

Regarding the Security Council, which is the focus of this report, a second trend can be observed. It began earlier and it marks a gradual but growing reemergence of the Security Council back into the field of disarmament that it had vacated during the early days of the Cold War. This evolving Council activism is manifested mostly in the context of country-specific situations. But there is also an increasing body of thematic or generic statements by the Council on some key issues.

The Council in particular began to be more active in the area of weapons of mass destruction with a specific focus on proliferation issues.

In the case of conventional weapons, the Council began to develop tools including arms embargoes, support for regional initiatives, physical disarmament in post-conflict situations and strategies such as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) in addition to security sector reform (SSR), which address aspects of the problem at the local level.

In January 1992, following a summit-level meeting, the Council underlined the need for all states to fulfil their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament, in particular to avoid excessive and destabilising accumulations and transfers of arms. It emphasised the importance of the early ratification and implementation by the states concerned of all international and regional arms control arrangements.

At the thematic level the Council has taken up—but made little progress on—the issue of small arms. In general the Council has tended to steer away from major thematic initiatives on disarmament.

Council members are aware of the growing clamour from the majority of UN member states, and especially from civil society, for a quantum leap forward on all disarmament issues. There is pressure not only for more effective and consistent action against the proliferation of nuclear weapons but also for real collective input for the reduction of existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons held by all nuclear weapons states and action in respect of conventional weapons as well—especially small arms—and for strengthening the regimes that deal with all kinds of weapons and the disarmament machinery in general.

In November 2008, at the initiative of Costa Rica, the Council held a debate on these wider dimensions of disarmament. Council members in response stressed concern at the growth of global military expenditures and urged states to devote as many resources as possible to economic and social development (S/PV.6017 and resumption 1).

The debate in the Security Council in November 2008 demonstrated that there is also a concern by many about the unfinished business under the UN Charter itself. For instance, how will the responsibility be taken up to formulate plans to establish a system to regulate armaments in such a way that international peace and security could be maintained with a minimum of diversion of the world’s human and economic resources into the production of or expenditure on armaments?

SIPRI, or the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has just reported that global military expenditure increased by 4 percent in 2008 and 45 percent over the past decade. It has now reached $1,464 billion.

The Security Council has shown, in recent times, that, in carrying out its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, it has the potential—and the power, if it chooses to exercise it—to contribute to addressing both specific and broader disarmament dimensions of security issues. But its role has often been resisted as either inappropriate (given the parallel responsibilities of the General Assembly and wider objections to Council encroachment) or as ineffective because its decisions were not respected, in part because key stakeholders, who needed to be party to such decisions, were absent from the table.

Disclaimer: This article is not all written by ACE NEWS GROUP. This is partly written from extracts of Security Council Cross-Cutting Report PDF Here:
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Disarmament September 2009.pdf