Chapter 5 - Detente

HideShow resource information

USA's interpretation of Detente

  • Nixon administration saw Detente as a process based on negotiation rather than confrontation
  • Kissinger: Strategy rather than an objective
  • "Detente is a means of controlling the conflict with the Soviet Union"
  • Nixon + Kissinger wanted to draw the SU into a state of interdependency
  • A strategy designed to prevent nuclear conflict as the SU became more powerful
  • About creating a network of mutually advantageous relationships so that it wouldn't be in the SU's best interests to base its policies on confrontation
  •  SU would have more to gain by cooperation
  • USA would be in a position to 'manage' Soviet international power
  • Kissinger summed this up by saying "By acquiring a stake in this network of relationships with the West the Soviet Union may become more conscious of what it will lose by a return to confrontation. Indeed, it is our expectation that it will develop a self interest in fostering the entire process of relaxation of tensions" 
1 of 17

The SU's interpretation of Detente

  • Brezhnev saw Detente as a means of overcoming the Cold War and the route by which normal, equal relations could be restored. 
  • Disputes would be resolved through negotiation rather than threats of force
  • Legitimate interests of each side would be recognised and respected by the other.
  • Brezhnev regarded Detente as mutually advantageous to both sides 
  • From the Soviet perspective, Detente was only possible due to the nuclear parity established by the late '60s
  • SU reached strategic balance with US in terms of nuclear capability
  • SU in position to cooperate with the USA
  • SU took the view that the USA was no longer the dominant world power - SU could gain by cooperating with them
  • Detente was the means by which the SU could preserve world socialism and protect it from capitalism and imperialism
2 of 17

Sino-American relations '69-'72

  • USA refused to acknowledge China after communist takeover in 1949
  • Sino-Soviet relations were worsening (by late '60s there were clashes on the border)
  • Nixon prime mover - '68 "We must not forget China"
  • China increasing nuclear power and communist power seperate from the SU
  • July  '69 - trade controls and travel restrictions relaxed as part of'Artichoke approach'
  • '70 - Zhou Enlai wins against those apposed to improved S-A relations
  • Mao Zedong sees SU as bigger threat than USA
  • US action in May '70 (Cambodia) and Feb '71 (Laos) slowed developments slightly 
  • April '71:China invites US to compete in the 31st World Table Tennis Championship (Ping- pong diplomacy)
  • July 71 - Kissinger visits Peking
  • October '71 - Kissinger visits Peking again to prepare for Nixon's visit
  • Nixon visits China - Withdraws troops from Taiwan and gains Chinese cooperation in ending Vietnam War 
  • Reinforces possibility of Triangular diplomacy between USA, SU and China
  • "The week that changed the world"
3 of 17

Ostpolitik and European Detente

  • 1955 - FRG adopts Hallstein Doctrine under Adenauer (FRG wouldn't recognise GDR or establish relations with any country that did - SU the only exception)
  • Brandt becomes chancellor of FRG in 1969 - aimed to recognise GDR & the territorial changes at the end of the Second World War (particularly Oder-Neisse border with Poland)
  • Brandt's strategy was to negotiate with the SU, settle the frontier with Poland & negotiate with the GDR
  • Brandt's talks with SU led to joint Non-Aggression Pact in August 1970
  • 7th Dec '70 - Treaty signed with Poland recognising Oder-Neisse Border
  • May '71 - communist leader of GDR Walter Ulbricht resigns (replaced by Erich Honecker)
  • Change in leader led to change in relations 
  • December '72 - the two Germanies sign a Treaty recognising eachother (Basic Treaty) - Hallstein Doctrin abolished
  • Kissinger realised the USA must develop its own Detente with the SU to stop W German detente from marginalising US influence in Europe which had the potential to split the western alliance
  • USA's superpower influence was not to be undermined by initiatives taken by the FRG
4 of 17

Berlin Agreement - Sep '71

  • An agreement over Berlin would greatly advance Soviet - American Detente 
  • Both sides keen to reach a consensus on Berlin's future and status within East-West Relations
  • When Brandt became Chancellor of the FRG, the Soviets expressed an interest in holding talks to discuss Berlin
  • By 1971 Kissinger & Nixon were to use Soviet interest in Berlin as a way of advancing SALT I 
  • Honecker's appearance in 1971 (replacing aging Ulbricht) facilitated an agreement on Berlin
  • The Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin was signed on the 3rd September 1971
  • The Soviets guaranteed Western access & W German presence was reduced 
  • Cultural & economic ties between W Germany & W Berlin were recognised
  • W recognised E Berlin as a part of E Germany, not just the Soviet Zone
  • W Berlin would stay seperate from W Germany 
  • Berlin as a whole would retain the 4 power presence
  • Berlin Agreement neutralised a source of conflict between E and W & opened the way for Ostpolitik to be expanded
  • Created positive climate for American- Soviet Detente
5 of 17

Basic Treaty

  • Signed 21st December 1972 - Officially came into effect June 1973
  • Known as Grundlagenvertrag in German
  • Important part of the development of Ostpolitik
  • 'Treaty concerning the basis of relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic'
  • Attept to normalise relations between the two Germanies
  • Groundwork laid out throughout 1971 and 1972 - Key figures: Egon Bahr & Michael Kohl (under-secretaries of state for W & E Germany) & FRG Chancellor Willy Brandt
  • Within the first 3 articles was the committment to potential economic relations & the recognition of sovereignty of FRG & GDR. 
  • Further articles promised to seek peaceful ways of resolving conflicts
  • Critical point of European Detente - settled relations & paved the way for other countries to establish relations with the GDR (UK, France & Netherlands February 1973, FRG February 1974 & USA Dec 1974)
  • By the end of September 1973, both the FRG and GDR were members of the UN
6 of 17

Helsinki Accords

  • 1973-1975
  • Conference named "Conference on Security and cooperation in Europe" (CSCE)
  • 35 States took part (all of Europe except Albania, as well as the USA and Canada)
  • Agreements formally called the 'Final Act' - not seen as the last step in European Detente: Plans for follow up meetings laid out (First was due in Belgrade in late 1977)
  • Three baskets, each with different sets of agreements (Security in Europe, Cooperation in the field of economics, of science and technology and of the Environment & Cooperation in Humanitarian and other Fields)
  • Security in Europe included: Respect for sovereignty and equality among states, rejection of the threat or use of force, recognition of existing frontiers & peaceful settlement of disputes
  • Soviet interests: Expand Ostpolitik & develop wider acceptance of the status quo in C and E Europe, Decrease barriers to increase trade & Further E - W Detente (less interested in human rights & some reluctance to acceept provisions on advanced notice of military exercise)
  • American position: Not fully willing to accept status quo, worried that support for NATO would drop as Europe was more secure
7 of 17

SALT I

  • 1969-1972
  • Formed of the ABM Treaty & the Interim Agreement (on Measures with Respect to Strategic Offensive Weapons)
  • ABM treaty limited both superpowers to 2 fields of anti-ballistic missiles - one could be around a capital city, the other was to protect ICBM sites
  • Interim Agreement: ICBMs - 1,054 for the US & 1,618 for the SU, SLBMs - 656 for the US & 740 for the SU & strategic bombers - 450 for the US & 140 for the SU
  • Was current for 5 years 
  • No agreements on new technology (particularly MIRVs) or cruise missile systems 
  • These deficiencies were to be addressed within SALT II 
  • Significant step towards arms control (Catalyst within detente)
  • Contributed to a relaxation of tensions that opened the way for more agreements 
  • By accepting SALT, USA accepted nuclear parity with the SU 
  • Meant that both sides could gain from Detente
  • A balance of power had been acknowledged and this necessitated the construction of a new non-confrontational relationship (Detente)
8 of 17

Nixon - Brezhnev Summit 1972

  • Held in Moscow
  • Finalised SALT and produced agreements to expand cooperation in science, technology, the environment, health and space exploration
  • Set out guidelines for A-S relations. 
  • Basic Principles Afreement - code of behaviour in terms of superpower relations
  • 12 Basic Principles in all - first 3 were the most important ("Normal relations based on principles of sovereignty, equality, non interference in internal affairs and mutual advantage", avoid situations that could damage peaceful coexistance & "special responsibility ... to do everything in their power so that conflicts or situations will not arise which would serve to increase international tensions")
  • Problems included the fact that the principles were not legally enforceable, it relied on the superpowers abiding by the guidelines
  • US saw the principles as a set of aspirations rather than a solid basis for future detente
  • SU reacted differently - saw Basic Principles as very important - SALT and Basic principles recognised parity between the superpowers and this was the foundation of detente as far as the SU was concerned
9 of 17

Nixon - Brezhnev Summit 1973

  • Held in Washington
  • Both superpowers wanted to develop Detente further
  • Kissinger eager to ensure USA's influence undermined by European Detente
  • He wanted to draw Europe & China into relations with US so they could influence diplomacy
  • He didn't want Europe making unilateral agreements with the SU - this objective failed & European Detente was strengthened during '73
  • Kissinger & Nixon's policy shows that they were mainly interested in protecting US power
  • Summit June '73 (Partly held in Washington & Camp David & partly in San Clemete, California)
  • Agreements made on agriculture, cultural exchanges & transport - also considered the situation in the Middle East 
  • Brezhnev wanted support for a Soviet proposal to make Israel withdraw to pre '67 frontier - US not willing to back this 
  • Brezhnev wanted US to promise Soviet-American relations came before Sino-American
  • Some progress towards SALT II 
  • Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War (main agreement)
10 of 17

Agreement on Prevention of Nuclear War '73

  • Both sides agreed policies aimed to remove danger of nuclear war & use of such weapons
  • Commitment to avoid military confrontations & the threat of force
  • Urgent consultations would be held if a situation that could cause nuclear war arose. 
  • Amounted to a crisis prevention strategy
  • Built on Basic Principles Agrement
  • USA reluctant to agree to not use nuclear weapons, fearing it would remove a detterent 
  • Many in SU also had reservations - feared it could weaken their defences & lead to divisions within their SOI in E Europe
  • Also the idea that the SU would lose its ability to support countries looking to break free of western control
  • Detente seen as tying the SU down & restricting its freedom to act in socialist interests
  • US went along with it - like the SU they came to see it as a benefit
  • Soviets saw it as a way to ensure that the USA would be unable to threaten the use of force - which would, to some extent restrict their global influence
  • USA saw it as a necessary initiative for the Soviets to keep them commited to Detente
11 of 17

3rd Soviet - American summit '74

  • June - July 1974
  • An opportunity to make some progress on the SALT II agreement 
  • Neither side could agree on the amount of MIRVs (USA knew they had superiority in these weapons & didn't want to see this undermined by letting the SU catch up)
  • SU rejected the idea that USA should hold a permanent advantage
  • Some desire to keep SALT alive - both sides agreed to reduce ABM missile sites to 1 each
  • Summit produced some agreements
  • One of which was a 10 year agreement on economic, industrial & technical cooperation
  • Consular links also established
  • Despite its limited outcomes, this summit further cemented Detente as the basis of superpower relations
  • Reaffirmed that summit meetings were the way to go to preserve peace
  • Didn't make any meaningful progress on SALT II (next attempt at this was at Vladivostok)
12 of 17

The Vladivostok Accord

  • November 1974
  • Preceeded by Kissinger visiting Moscow in October
  • Ford succeeded Nixon after Watergate but kept Kissinger as chief negotiator
  • Kissinger spoke with Brezhnev about no.s of strategic missile launchers & MIRVs -some movement from both sides.
  • At the Vladivostok summit, agreement reached on a framework for a 10- year plan (preliminary move towards SALT II) 
  • SU agreed to equal levels of ICBM launchers & SLBM launchers
  • Despite opposition (some thought the SU was being allowed to keep too many weapons), Congress passed resolutions supporting the Vladivostok SALT Accord by Feb '75
  • When negotiators met in Geneva, it was clear a smooth transition from Vladivostok to SALT II wouldn't happen
  • 1 problem was that the US argued that limits on air-to surface missiles only applied to ballistic missiles - SU said it also included cruise missiles
  • Other similar clarification issues emerged
  • Some progress but still a way off an agreement that could be ratified through SALT II
  • New proposals forced on to Kissinger & backed by Ford - Brezhnev not happy 
13 of 17

Watergate scandal

  • Took its name from the Washington building that housed headquarters of the Democratic Party campaign during the '72 election.
  • Republican Committee to Re-elect the president formed to ensure that Nixon stayed president
  • 5 people associated with the committee found breaking into the Watergate building - they had sophisicated surveillance equipment they used to spy on the Democratic campaign
  • By August '74, Nixon was closely implicated in the affair - he was accused of using his power as President to obstruct the investigation & lying about his involvement
  • Important Washington Post journalists: Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein
  • Dean, Erlichman & Haldeman had details that led to the recommendation to impeach Nixon
  • Alexander Butterfield - Nixon taped conversations in the White House  - these linked Nixon to the cover-up
  • All these factors forced Nixon to resign before he was impeached
  • Watergate scandal weakened Presidency & created distrust of Washington
  • Serious impact on Detente - power of the President to make important decisions on foreign policy significantly undermined
  • Opponents of Detente found themselves in a stronger position as Detente was associated with an undeermined administration
14 of 17

Carter Administration '77-81 (1977)

  • Jan '77 - Jimmy Carter replaces Ford as President 
  • Began by trying to impose far tighter restrictions for SALT II than was agreed @ Vladivostok
  • March '77 - Carter considered significantly reduced levels of heavy ICBMs, new limits on testing & a ban on ICBMs
  • Ban on cruise missiles >2,500km, Modern ICBMs = 150 (launchers for ICBMs w/MIRVs = 550)
  • Greater impact on SU than US 
  • Brezhnev saw Vladivostok as binding - Carter acting unilaterally & unnacceptably 
  • Brezhnev rejected proposals - USA appeared to be abandoning hard won progress
  • End of '77 - USA modified proposals & differences were resolved - SALT II back on track
  • Jan '77 - US accused Czechoslovakia of violating human rights (remained committed to this)
  • July '77 Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau & FRG Chancellor Schmidt cautioned Carter on persuing human rights against the SU 
  • Carter had conflicting adivice - SOS Cyrus Vance = pro- Detente, saw it as an asset (would stop both sides backing Arab extremists), National security advisor Brezinski - anti-Detente (wanted the US to hold strategic superiority over the SU)
15 of 17

Carter Administration '77-81 (1978)

  • USA's relationship with China increasingly hindered SALT II 
  • Carter decided to turn to China to retaliate against so called expansionist Soviet activity in developing countries
  • China increasingly receptive to American moves because there were problems with Vietnam & they feared a Soviet-Vietnam alliance in some form
  • Carter intended to develop relations with China (became known as the 'China Card') to counter Soviet and Cuban activities in Africa
  • The aim was to promote the 'normalisation' of Sino-American interests. 
  • Somehow, Carter failed to realise that this would damage Soviet-American relations at a crucial point in the development of SALT II
16 of 17

Carter Administration '77-81 (1979)

  • Despite the China factor, both superpowers wanted SALT II negotiations to proceed
  • The Treaty was finally announced on 9th May 1979
  • Was to be signed and finalised at the Vienna summit in June
  • This signing was the main achievement of the Vienna summit , but the fact that a summit on this scale could still take place shows that the Soviet and American leaders could talk and communicate directly with each other without the need for intermediares
  • Some historians take the view that the summit just slowed the decline of Detente and the irreversible deterioration between the two superpowers
17 of 17

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all International relations 1945-2004 resources »