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Terrorists dominated 1985




Prepare yourself for another of those year in retrospect articles. The chill winds of January keep writers inside, hunched over typewriters and mugs of hot tea.

The year ended with a bang as it were, with terrorists using machine guns and grenades to sound a macabre counterpoint to the airport Christmas background music. These acts came in the same year that the Palestine Liberation Organization fighters gained recognition for the shooting death of an elderly paraplegic.

Americans are slowly forming their own conception of Mideastern macho; it wears the face of Charles Manson, however, not the face of Sylvester Stallone.

This year the world discovered what the drought has been doing to Ethiopians. Bronx cheers were lavished on any who dared to point out that such droughts were also visited on the Ukraine in the early 1930s, China in the late 1950s and Kampuchea in middle 1970s. Mother Nature has scant respect for Herr Marx and Comrade Lenin.

American imperialism, of course, is never still when such an opportunity arises. We turned our backs on the government in Addis Ababa. Instead of giving them the guns and ammunition they needed to forward the revolution and to put down the rebels in Eritrea and Tigray, Americans chose to send money, food and calls for truce with the rebels. Such is the velvet glove that hides the steel fist of imperialism.

There were some bright spots in 1985. For one, Herr Marx is on the way to being declared persona non grata in China. Mr. Deng took a long look at the open market agricultural reforms he helped institute. He decided that a little more of the same in other areas of the economy would not hurt at all. Party members who felt otherwise were informed of their retirement benefits.

Another bright spot was Ronald Reagan's abstention from giving away the store when he finally met Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit. The media was saved from an otherwise uneventful event by the spectacular (yet figurative) insertion of White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan's size eleven shoe into his own mouth. He passed up the chance to save himself by adding that most American men do not care about "throw weights" either.

The Sandinistas closed out the year by openly declaring the suspension of most civil liberties (yawn) and by closing the opposition paper La Prensa. American radicals made little of this closing, though the shutdown of this same paper heralded the downfall of the last regime. Have they finally gained some tolerance?

Mr. Marcos closed out the year by trying an end run on the opposition. One hopes he will run into the Philippino political equivalent of "the Refrigerator." The opposition got its act together by forming a strong coalition. If they can pull off a democratic election, 1986 may be the year we see both Marcos and the insurgents sent packing.

On the home scene, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., astonished almost no one by announcing his non-candidacy nearly two years before anyone would care. There was not a dry eye in Cambridge.

On campus, the two major issues of the year were "Star Wars" and Divestment/Apartheid. There was much said by all 27 sides of each topic, serving two useful purposes: the dramatic lowering of heating costs during the fall term and the encouragement of a large number of uninvolved people to think about some very thorny questions -- a big plus in any year.

It is now time to break with tradition by not making any predictions about what lies in store for us all -- que ser'a ser'a and all of that. Make the most of IAP and remember, it is 12 months until you have to read another year in retrospect article.