A look at some of the key events that took place during the 1970s, a decade that was characterized by political turmoil and social change.
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The End of the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War finally ended in 1975, after more than a decade of fighting. In the United States, the war had become increasingly unpopular, and in 1973 Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which limited the president’s ability to commit troops to combat without Congressional approval. In January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and U.S. troops began to withdraw from Vietnam. Fighting continued between South Vietnamese forces and the Viet Cong (communist rebels), however, and in April 1975 South Vietnam surrendered to the communists.
The Watergate Scandal
The Watergate Scandal was a series of crimes committed by the President and his staff, who were found to have spied on and attempted to sabotage their political opponents. The scandal ultimately led to the President’s resignation, and resulted in numerous criminal convictions.
The Roe v. Wade Decision
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision, which recognized a woman’s right to have an abortion. The ruling was based on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
The Court held that a woman’s right to have an abortion is a fundamental constitutional right that must be protected by the government. The Court also ruled that this right must be balanced against the state’s interest in protecting prenatal life and promoting childbirth.
The Roe v. Wade decision resulted in a nationwide debate about abortion. Supporters of the decision argue that it protects women’s health and reproductive rights, while opponents argue that it breaches the sanctity of human life.
The First Earth Day
The first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970. The event was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of environmental issues and to promote renewable energy sources. More than 20 million people participated in Earth Day activities across the country.
The Oil Crisis
The oil crisis of the 1970s was a major event that impacted both the global economy and politics. It began in 1973 when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) announced an oil embargo in response to America’s support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The embargo caused a sharp increase in oil prices, which had a ripple effect on the global economy. The oil crisis also led to an energy crisis and had a significant impact on politics, culminating in the election of Jimmy Carter as U.S. President in 1976.
The Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution was a Shi‘a Islamist revolution in Iran that lasted from February 11, 1979 to February 11, 1979. It began with the ousting of the Pahlavi dynasty, the last ruling house of Iran, and culminated in the establishment of an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt. The revolution was supported by various Islamist and leftist organizations and student movements.
The revolution resulted in a new constitution which replaced the monarchy with an Islamic republic based on the principle of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist), which was then enforced by a new paramilitary force called the Pasdaran. Ayatollah Khomeini became Iran’s supreme leader, a position created after the revolution. The revolution also led to an anti-Western and anti-American sentiment amongst Iranians.
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan began on December 27, 1979, when the Soviet Union massively deployed troops to aid the socialist Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan in its fight against the mujahideen during the Afghan War. The war, lasting from 1978 to 1992, is considered one of the most important proxy wars of the Cold War era.