The 20th Century Project Wiki

This is an image of one of the hostages with his Iranian captors. This is relevant because it shows how the Iranians treated the hostages.

Iran Hostage Crisis[]

General Overview

“The Iranian Hostage Crisis was a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Iran where 52 Americans [US citizens] were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian Revolution.”[1] Initial Hostage Taking

The crisis began on November 4, 1979 when students in Tehran, Iran decided to kidnap those at the United States embassy. They were motivated by Ayatollah Musavi Khoeyniha, a radical Muslim leader [2]. They invaded the American Embassy with the intent to occupy it for a few days to make a statement against the US relations with Iran and then let them go [3]. This did not occur because as Khoeyniha and the students hoped, the Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan resigned when Ayatollah Khomeini, a religious leader who had appointed him, supported the takeover [2].

Diplomatic Relations under Jimmy Carter and Release

After a failed attempt to rescue the hostages, Jimmy Carter, the US President during most
of the crisis, supported diplomatic relations with the Iranians. He froze Iranian assets in American banks which along with Iran’s need for money for their war with Iraq forced the Iranian government to negotiate with the United States. The negotiations were difficult because Iran would only communicate through an intermediary, Algeria [2]. Finally on January 20, 1981, the hostages were released minutes after President Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter’s successor, was sworn into office.

Diary of Robert C. Ode

Robert C. Ode was a hostage who kept a diary during the crisis. His diary gives us a history from below of the how the hostages and the captors interacted during the crisis. In his diary, he talks about how he was tied up and blindfolded throughout his captivity, was not allowed to go outdoors to exercise until he had been in captivity 41 days, and other interesting facts about the crisis [4].

Global Significance

Peter Bourne who wrote a biography on Carter said, "Because people felt that Carter had
not been tough enough in foreign policy, this kind of symbolized for them that some bunch of students could seize American diplomatic officials and hold them prisoner and thumb their nose at the United States." [1]. This shows how Carter’s handling of
the crisis influenced the elections in which Ronald Reagan won by a wide margin [5]. This had a major impact on global history because of Reagan’s strong foreign policy standings in the Reagan Doctrine and his belief in a strong army which allowed the US to intervene in the Persian Gulf War. As a result, the Iranian hostage crisis had major influence not only on the United States and Iran but also on the Soviet Union through the Reagan Doctrine and on Iraq and Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War.

Olympic Boycotts[]

1980 Moscow Summer Olympics The 1980 Moscow Olympics are infamous for being boycotted by the United States and many other countries after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan without cause in December 1979 [6].

U.S.A. Leads Boycott

United States president Jimmy Carter gave the Soviet’s a one month timeframe to leave Afghanistan or he would try and convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the games [7]. When the Soviet Union failed to withdraw, the U.S. announced they would boycott the Moscow Olympics because they “wanted to express the extent of international displeasure with the invasion of Afghanistan and to pressure the Soviets to pull their armies out of the conflict” [8].
Countries Involved

While the United States led the coalition to boycott the Olympic games, many countries followed suit. In total, approximately sixty-five countries boycotted the games including Canada, Israel and South Korea [9].
Global Significance

The Olympic games, in itself, has a vast amount of global significance. The Olympics allow qualifying individuals to compete for their country at the same level as other athletes regardless of a participant’s ethnicity, religious views, social status, or gender. The 1980’s Moscow Olympics were a perfect example of a specific nation supporting other countries that had the same views. The amount of teams boycotting the event shows that countries are not supportive of an invasion of another country, specifically the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. It meant that the Soviet Union faced many threats on a global scale and that their status of a world leader could be in jeopardy.

1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics

The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics were boycotted by the Soviet Union and much of the Eastern bloc in an act of revenge for the United States boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Soviet Union Leads Boycott

The Soviet Union took full advantage of the opportunity to boycott the games of the United States since the U.S. boycotted theirs. The Soviet Union decided to boycott the games because of “the commercialization of the games and a lack of security measures” [9].

Countries Involved

The Los Angeles Olympics did not encounter as many boycotting countries as the Moscow Olympics. Nineteen countries, mostly from the eastern bloc, boycotted the games [10].

Global Significance

Sixty-five countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics while only nineteen boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics. This shows that the Soviet Union’s boycotting of the Los Angeles Olympics was not was warranted as the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Many people felt that it was a politically motivated move in spite of the U.S. When China, a communist country, decided to participate it was viewed as a huge success for the U.S [6]. Essentially, politics, and war would not stop the Olympic games from happening.


1. Wikipedia, Iran Hostage Crisis,

2. Bowden, Mark, Guests of the Ayatollah, p. 13-14, 577

3.Molavi, Afshin, The Soul of Iran, p. 335
4. Ode, Robert C., November 4, 1979 thru July 8, 1980,

5.Reagan’s Lucky Day,

6. Mondale, Walter. "The Decision to Boycott: Lessons from 1980." Huffington Post. 11 Aug. 2008. 19 April 2012 <>. 7. Smith, Terence. “The President Said Nyet.” New York Times. 20 Jan. 1980. 19 April 2012. <>.

8. “The Olympic Boycott, 1980.” Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State. 19 April 2012. <>.

9. “1984: Moscow pulls out of US Olympics.” BBC News. 19 April 2012. <>.

10. “The Los Angeles Games: the boycotts continue” CBC Sports. 7 Aug. 2009. 19 April 2012. <>.

11. Zinser, Lynn. “Phone Call From China Transformed ’84 Games” New York Times. 14 July 2008. 19 April 2012. <>.