America’s the understanding that a repeated qualification might

America’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics can be tied many events that occurred throughout President  Jimmy Carter’s administration- both directly and indirectly influencing Carter’s decision to boycott. The reactions towards Carter’s decision were mixed. Pity towards the many athletes who had trained for years towards the goal of competing in the Olympics was a feeling seen among many Americans. The athletes, although understanding of the actions of the President and the American Olympic Committee, felt sadness due to the understanding that a repeated qualification might not be obtained for the next Olympic games. While these emotions were felt by the nation, the boycott was symbolic of the commitment many Americans felt to fighting the oppressive, communist Soviet regime. Many countries- such as Canada, West Germany and Japan- joined the U.S. in boycotting the games. Eventually, an international coalition proposed that a neutral Olympic banner be created so that the athletes of boycotting nations could still compete. Carter threatened to revoke the passport of any U.S. athlete who attempted to do so. His decision affected both the athletes deeply, and also the profits of advertisers and broadcasters (such as NBC). President Carter’s executive decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a direct result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The announcement came from America’s Olympic Committee after the Soviet Union failed to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan prior  Carter’s deadline of February 20, 1980. The Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to reinforce the country’s communist regime against Islamic rebel forces. According to Premier Leonid Brezhnev, the Afghanistani government sought the aid of the Soviets in order to end the growing insurgency that was the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).  In a letter written after the invasion, Carter reproached the Soviet Union, specifically Premier Brezhnev, and denounced the invasion as a “deliberate effort by a powerful atheistic government to subjugate an independent Islamic people” that he later called a stepping stone to Soviet control over Afghanistan’s (and many other middle eastern nation’s) oil supplies. The invasion threatened to revive the Cold War, which, during the late 1970s, had appeared to undergo a temporary halt seemingly due to the signing of second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) on the 7th of June, 1979; this controversial treaty, although never ratified, was an agreement that both nations voluntarily complied with. The invasion, in the eyes of President Carter, was a direct violation of their treaty, causing the US to act accordingly. In addition to the boycott, Carter issued a trade embargo on two U.S. goods that the country desperately needed- grain and information technology- as a means of increasing pressure on the Soviets to abandon the war in Afghanistan. Knowing that fishing was a huge part of the USSR’s economy, Carter also limited Soviet fishing in American-controlled waters. Carter called on the U.N. to provide military equipment, food and other assistance to help Afghanistan’s neighbors fend off further Soviet advances. As a method of retaliation, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. While the invasion of Afghanistan appeared to be President Carter’s main (and direct) cause for his decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics, many other events that occurred during Carter’s administration can be referred to as the indirect causes of the invasion. One indirect cause could be the energy crisis that was present all throughout the 70’s. While American Oil consumption was on the rise, the production of domestic oil was on the decline. Due to this, America had no choice but to increase its dependency on imported oil. America, feeling overconfident in their relations with these foreign nations, was blindsided when an embargo was imposed on oil by OAPEC (the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries). Prices for oil skyrocketed throughout the decade and shortage of fuel was overly present. Throughout Carter’s administration, energy conservation was a huge priority. For example, on February 2nd, 1977, Carter passed the Emergency Natural Gas Act, giving the president most of the authority over the crisis. This later results in his proposition to establish a cabinet- level department of energy. The energy crisis that President Carter sought to control could have been an indirect cause of the US’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic as jealousy could have been present with the idea that the Soviet Union now had better access to the oil supplies in the Middle East, specifically the abundance that was present in Afghanistan. If the invaded country wasn’t such a larger oil distributor of the US, such rash actions would not have been taken by the American government (the boycott) in response to the Soviet invasion. While the idea of communism spreading was an idea that seemed to terrify the United States, Afghanistan was already under the regime of a primarily communist government prior to the invasion by the Soviets- therefore, the invasion shouldn’t have been one of great controversy. However, the invasion occurred after the signing of the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty,  a treaty that sought to create limitations and guidelines for nuclear weapons. This treaty was still in the process of being ratified by Congress when the invasion on Afghanistan was launched. Betrayal was an overbearing emotion felt by President Carter. While the treaty wasn’t technically official, the two signatures from both countries was enough for the president to feel that the treaty held. While the invasion played a huge role in the boycott, the emotions Carter felt after the Soviet Union “broke” their treaty could be argued to also have indirectly played a huge role in the decision. Given that it was President Carter and Premier Brezhnev who signed the treaty themselves, Carter understandingly was taken by surprise at the news of the invasion. Brezhnev, on the other hand, seemed to dismiss the treaty immediately after signing as it wasn’t official yet and seemed to understand that it would do nothing to contain the arms race. This treaty went on to be one of the most controversial agreements between the US and the USSR of the cold war.

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