Chapter 6: Detente under pressure

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Arab Israeli War 1973

  • Egypt's president Sadat wanted Israelis out of Sinai - they'd been there since a war in 1967
  • 6th October 1973 - Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked the Sinai
  • Both the USSR and USA wanted to stay out of war to preserve Detente
  • Both superpowers provided their client with arms (USA- Israel and USSR - Egypt)
  • Cease fire agreed 22nd October
  • USA's primary aim to ensure it was a driving force in peacekeeping in the Middle East
  • Kissinger wanted to "demonstrate that the road to peace led through Washington"
  • USSR wanted to retain Arab confidence and have a share in peace process
  • America not willing to share diplomatic influence that came with managing the peace process
  • After the ceasefire was declared Kissinger said "We had created the conditions for a diplomatic breakthrough. We had maintained a relationship with key Arab countries and laid the foundations for a dominant role in post-war diplomacy"
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Super power confrontation (Arab Israeli War)

  • Cease fire violated within hours - Israel launched a major attack against Egypt
  • Critical point for the USA - how could they retain influence with the most moderate Arab state, it did nothing to end the violation of the ceasefire?
  • SU suggested both superpowers send troops to enforce the ceasefire - this was the source of the confrontation.
  • Kissinger commented "We had not worked for years to reduce the Soviet military presence in Egypt only to cooperate in reintroducing it. Nor would we participate in a joint force with the Soviets."
  • The aim was to exclude Soviet influence in the region - not encourage it! 
  • Kissinger willing to use force against the SU - especially if they decided to act unilaterally
  • He also used the threat of Soviet intervention to pressurise Israel into accepting ceasefire
  • USA now prime mover in Middle Eastern affairs - SU increasingly marginalised 
  • Kissinger organised a National Security Council meeting - DEFCON 3 declared
  • Included Strategic Air Command (SAC) + North American Air Defence Command (NORAD)
  • Aircraft Carriers Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John f Kennedy were moved to the Mediterranean to join the Independence 
  • Crisis ended with the intervention of UN international force to mange ceasefire
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Impact of Middle East Crisis on Detente

  • Sustained criticism of the USSR - Kohler, Goure and Harvey - "There is no doubt ... that the Soviet Union violated both the letter and spirit of the agreements signed at the Moscow and Washington Summit meetings"
  • But USA also supplied client state with arms - neither superpower did everything possible to diffuse the situation
  • Both sides breached the Basic Principles by looking to gain a unilateral advantage
  • Neither side accused the other of violating agreements of Detente
  • Superpowers brought warring states together in Geneva in December 1973
  • Later, USA resumed its diplomatic efforts among Israelis and Arab states - 'shuttle diplomacy'
  • 1974 - diplomatic relations restored between the USA, Egypt and Syria
  • 18th March - Arab oil embargo placed on the USA during the war was lifted 
  • Soviets forged closer relations with Libya and the PLO - the latter officially recognised August 1974
  • War generated growing numbers of opponents of Detente within the USA - they feared continued Soviet -American cooperation would be harmful to Israel (they thought Israeli occupied land would be traded for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours)
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Angolan Civil War 1975-1976

  • Caused by revolution in Portugal in '74 that led to Angolan independence 
  • Scramble for power established - three groups involved (MPLA, FNLA and UNITA)
  • Attempts to manage the rivalry came in Jan '75 with the Alvor Accords - the 3 groups agreed to cooperate with a transitional government 
  • External powers quickly began to intervene 
  • June '74 - China sends 120 military advisors to Zaire to aid the FNLA
  • In July USA increases covert funding to FNLA - further increases after Alvor Accords
  • MPLA recieved funds and arms from the USSR from October 1974 - war quickly flared up 
  • By late January '76 there were around 12,000 Cuban troops supporting the MPLA - they helped reach a final victory by March 1976
  • MPLA declared creation of PRA (people's republic of Angola) in Nov '75, but this was not formally recognised by African states until Feb '76
  • Relations with USSR and Cuba developed well - Cuba removes troops 1977
  • Oct '76 USSR ratifies 20 year Treaty of Friendship
  • USA vetoes Angola's UN application - changed position in November
  • Cuban troops used to support President Agostinho Neto's suppression of an attempted coup by pro-Soviet Neto Alves - this weakened Neto's links with the USSR 
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The USA's position (Angola)

  • Until SU was involved, USA thought superpower intervention was incompatible with Detente
  • Neutrality from US would mean Neto may become dominant & Angolan politics would shift left - Zaire would think the US had no interest in Africa & become Anti-American
  • Summer '75 - US questions whether SU aiding the MPLA was consistant with Detente 
  • Nov '75 - Angola not a threat to US strategic & economic interests: Kissinger - "The United States has no national interest in Angola"
  • US -no objection to MPLA - didn't oppose Mozambique's similar leftist regime (FRELIMO)
  • Dec '75 - Director of Central intelligence (William Colby) says all Angolan groups the same - independent and leftist: When asked why the US backed FNLA - "Because the Soviets are backing the MPLA is the simplest answer".
  • US national interests not threatened by Soviet & Cuban intervention, but created by it. 
  • This placed even more strain on Detente
  • Catalyst for US's response - increasing Cuban military aid & link the SU had with this
  • Kissinger worried - the US couldn't stop MPLA getting Cuban & Soviet aid
  • The USA's failure to act could be seen as a lack of committment to counter communism
  • Detente couldn't survive if one side gained unilateral advantage as it appeared in Angola
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Soviet Union's position (Angola)

  • Didn't start aiding MPLA until the US was aiding FNLA (July '74)
  • Priority was to ensure China didn't gain at their expense (SU couldn't be seen as less willing than China to aid liberation movements)
  • China clear rival for SU influence in Southern Africa
  • Compliance with Detente had (in Neto's view) made a link between US & SU that weakened SU credibility in Angola
  • US & Chinese aid to FNLA seen as Sino-American collaberation aimed at gaining influence (springboard to launch the collective influence)
  • SU certain that Sino-American actions were the result of improved relations since '71
  • SU sure its actions were in line with the spirit of Detente
  • Said they had legitimate right to aid 'peoples fighting for their liberation' - Castro also took this view (he was committed to socialist international cooperation to support liberation & feedom)
  • SU wanted to avoid exposing thesmelves to the accusation that they wouldn't support progressive & Marxist liberation movements (especially in developing countries)
  • SU wanted to expand own influence within developing world & undermine influence of China & the US
  • Highlighted different perceptions of Detente 
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Afghanistan 1979

  • In April 1978 a coup led to the overthrow of Muhammad Daoud, a cousin of the former King of Afghanistan
  • Daoud had been in power since 1973, with the support of the People's Democratic Parry of Afghanistan (PDPA).
  • It was the PDPA themselves that overthrew Daoud, mainly because he failed to implement the socialist principles he claimed to be committed to.
  • It was the coup in April 1978 that ultimately led to the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan in the December 1979
  • This invasion had a profound effect on international politics during the 1980s
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SU & Afghanistan '78-'79

  • The regime established by the PDPA had long been an ally of the Soviet Union, but it quickly began to fragment and eventually, a faction within it (led by Hafizullah Amin) gained control.
  • This new dominant faction rapidly started a programme of radical, and sometimes disruptive land reform. 
  • They began a campaign against the influence of Islam by rejecting the wearing of the Islamic veil and the use of Islamic green in the national flag
  • The Soviet Union was concerned that the regime was fast alienating many Afghans and this could lead to significant instability
  • They also believed that Amin could realign Afghanistan with the United States, Pakistan and China.
  • Essentially, Afghanistan could potentially become a threat situated directly on the Soviet borders.
  • To the Soviet Union, Amin was an unreliable ally and was unable to control the growing Islamic opposition he was facing within Afghanistan
  • The Soviets were in danger of losing their strategic, ideological, political and economic influence in Afghanistan.
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Soviet interests in Afghanistan

  • Border 2,500km long adjoining the Muslim Central Asian republics of the USSR
  • Afghanistan socialist & a regional ally of the SU - if it alligned with the USA, it would strengthen US geo-strategic power in the region, at the expense of the SU
  • Looked like the SU was aiding a threatened socialist state & protecting it from misgovernment by Amin - Really, the SU needed to protect its own security
  • Brezhnev thought Afghanistan could be turned into "an imperialist bridgehead on our southern border" - could be a threat for the same reasons
  • Afghanistan must remain buffer for Soviet security - military action had to occur to ensure this
  • Intervention seen by the SU as a security necessity rather than opportunist expansionism
  • Late '79 - US-Soviet relations already at a low point - further damage would be outweighed by the benefits of a pro-Soviet, stable Afghanistan
  • SU saw their actions as consistant with Basic Principles (1972) - military action defence, desinged to stop Afghanistan plunging into chaos
  • Intented to preserve - not destroy, the status quo
  • Saw the Basic Principles as acceptance that superpower interests had to be guarded
  • Within Soviet SOI - couldn't be seen as challenging the West and its interests
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USA's reaction to Afghanistan

  • After Daoud's removal - thought SU wouldn't intervene - questioned level of support for the new regime
  • Events gained significance when Shah's pro-American regime was overthrown by Islamic fundementalists in Iran - US feared Khomeini's regime would collapse, leaving Iran vulnerable to leftist, or even communist influence
  • Carter: "the United States has not interfered in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, we expect the Soviet Union to do the same"
  • 27th Dec '79- Soviets kill Amin & increased troops (this began 24th Dec)
  • US said this crossed line between influencing & intervening, Carter: "blatant violation of accepted international rules of behaviour" & "grave threat to peace - RIP Detente
  • 3rd Jan '80 - Carter asks Senate to indefinately postpone any progress with SALT II
  • Didn't consider SU's motives (defence & stability) - Carter's narrow thinking
  • 4th Jan '80 - Carter set out measures aimed at SU, including: deferral of action on cultural & economic exchanges, restrictions on SU's fishing rights in American waters, ban on sales of tech & strategic items to SU, embargo on grain sales to SU + US military & economic aid to Pakistan to enhance security
  • 23rd January 1980 - Carter Doctrine (for defence of Persian Gulf)
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Carter Doctrine Jan 1980

  • 8th Jan to Congress - "Our own nation's security is threatened"
  • A part of Detente was to have some control over SU expansionism ('80 this was main aim)
  • Carter Doctrine a US commitment to prevent SU advancing further into Persian Gulf
  • Emphasised chance of military response to expansionism - built up US strategic forces
  • Reinforced need to expand relations with China
  • Carter tried persuading NATO to suspend East-West Detente, but it was working in Europe
  • Europe expanded trade links with the SU
  • Carter increased defence budget for 1981
  • SU took the view that US was using events in Afghanistan as an excuse to halt Detente, revive nuclear arms race & gain strength in the Persian Gulf
  • As far as the West was concerned, the invasion of Afghanistan demanded international condemnation and a policy of containment to prevent further Soviet expansion
  • Didn't pose greatest threat since WWII but the US saw it that way
  • Carter administration said its relationship with the SU depended on them withdrawing from Afghanistan
  • US moved from Nixon-Kissinger approach of cooperation to a position of containment more associated with Truman, Eisenhower & Kennedy
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