Détente: Success or Failure

  • Created by: DAFE16
  • Created on: 18-03-17 16:07

Détente: Success or Failure


  • SALT I had proven commitment on both sides to limit the escalating nuclear arms race
  • SALT I: ABMs limited to 200 (ABM Treaty) & Limitations of ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers
  • USA and USSR agreed to place "Basic Principles" in stabilising relations between each other
  • The Helsinki Accords (1975) fulfilled certain expectation for both sides: USA -> USSR promises human rights provision & USSR -> gain full recognition of their sphere of influence + trade
  • SALT II: It was eventually signed in Vienna in 1979 (achieved further limits of nuclear arms)
  • Nixon and Kissinger had implemented "triangular diplomacy" in foreign affairs to gain agreements with PRC + USSR
  • The policy of "Ostpolitik" helped achieve the easing of relations between the West Europe + East (USSR)


  • After the resignation of Nixon in 1974, the détente between the USA and the USSR soured
  • USA criticised the USSR for breaching the human rights provision as agreed in Helsinki Accords
  • Interim Agreement (May 1972) failed to include MIRVs and cruise missiles
  • Vladivostok Summit reached limited agreement - debates: limitation = which application of weapon
  • Growing opposition in Congress - USA is not benefiting from détente: USA has less weapons than USSR + Two of the three Baskets in the Helsinki Accords fulfill USSR's expectations
  • Fall of Saigon in 1975 - USA soured spirit of cooperation (on the defensive)
  • Interventions from both USA and USSR in the Third World (e.g. Angola, Middle East) to expand their sphere of influence
  • Soviet invasion into Afghanistan in 1979 reawakened fear of Soviet expansionism - marked the end of détente


Although the Détente had helped ease relations between the superpowers and both had acknowledged the dangers of nuclear war, nevertheless, both sides had sometimes faced conflicting aims. Both the USA and the USSR had different views of a détente, hence, they would want to carry out their goals. Especially the fact that both sides continued expanding their spheres of influence into the Third World through proxy wars, demonstrates the idea that the détente was more a failure than a success.


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