Early years of Detente - Richard Nixon
- Nixon elected 1968 - Re-elected in 1972 - Second term ended in 1974 - Watergate scandal
- Foreign policy successes = ended direct US involvement in the Vietnam war, America started normalising relations with China, policy of detente - lowering tensions with the USSR.
- Nixon and Henry Kissinger - world is moving from a bi-polar world (US and USSR) to a multi-polar world (US, USSR and China). Need for US to improve relations with China.
- Despite lowering of tensions (detente of 1970s), renewed cold war. Things reverse themselves. Good or bad thing? detente was never going to end the cold war.
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Conclusion of the Vietnam War
- A solution to the Vietnam War was Nixon's priority - claimed he had a secret plan to end the conflict during his presidencial campaign.
- VIETNAMIZATION - America would train, finance and equip the south vietnamese military. South Vietnam would take control, meaning the US could withdraw.
- Escalated the war at the same time as trying to end it by striking communist stage areas of Cambodia. March 1969 - US authorised secret bombings of Cambodia, did not become public knowledge until 1973 - caused political damage to Nixon.
- 30th April 1970 - Nixon sends US and South Vietnamese forces into cambodia to attack communist bases - changed how the war was fought.
- Dec 1970 - Congress repeals Gulf of Tonkin resolution - US no longer had a legal right to carry on fighting - Nixon claims he has the authority to continue in order to protect US troops.
- Despite promising to end the war, and although Nixon withdraws lots of troops, US not in a position to withdraw completely.
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Ceasefire and Paris Peace Accords
- US Negotiated with North Vietnam for a ceasefire
- 26 Oct 1972 - Kissinger announced 'peace is at hand'
- US and North Vietnam plan for ceasfire - South Vietnams president refuses to accept the plan because it leaves a lot of North Vietnamese troops still stationed in South Vietnam.
- Dec 1972 - Talks break down even further - US bombs North Vietnam visciously
- Jan 1973 - North Vietnam return to negotiating table - did not make concessions even after being bombed furiously
- 27 Jan 1973 - signing of the Paris Peace Accords - immediate ceasefire - US would withdraw the remaining 24,000 troops and north vietnam would release 600 POWS. Did not stipulate withdrawal of North Korean troops from South Vietnam.
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Gerald Ford & Vietnam
- Paris Peace Accords ended direct US involvement in Vietnam - US hoped south vietnam would be able to survive with the trainging they had recieved.
- Spring 1975 - North Vietnam intensifies attacks on South Vietnam - South Vietnamese resistance collapses
- Ford urges congress to provide more aid for south vietnam - congress refuses
- April 1975 - last american leaves Saigon - North Vietnamese take control of the city, Vietnam war had ended, the north had won.
- American power showed itself to have been limited - beaten by communist guerilla fighters.
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Nixon and China
- China communist since 1949 - Peoples Republic of China (PRC) - Mao defeated Chinese nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-Shek. America initially refused to recognise PRC - saw communists as illegitimate. Continued to regard Kai-Shek as the real government of China - favoured one side over the other.
- Nixon was severely anti-communist - the gestures towards PRC would carry a lot of weight
- Nixon and Kissinger wanted a better relationship with PRC - would counterbalance USSR - encourage the USSR to be less provocative with the US.
- China becoming another pole in a bi-polar world - powerful under Mao
- Opened opportunities to cause trouble with USSR
- Trying to play China off USSR - PRC and USSR had a long standing antagonistic relationship - worsening from the 1960s
- 1969 - troops clashed on border and Moscow considered nuclear strike on China - not a monolithic communist plot, USSR not controlling PRC. If US improved relations with PRC, Mao wouldnt move to USSR and communist would be less likely to spread through Asia.
- July 1971 - Kissinger secretly visits PRC to pave way for a public visit by Nixon
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Nixon and China (cont.)
- Autumn 1971 - US end opposition of China's membership of UN
- Feb 1972 - Nixon visits PRC
- Included American acceptance that there is only one China - communist China. Promised to stop stationing US troops in Nationalist China (Taiwan) turning its back on Nationalist China.
- Nixon and Mao stopping the spread of Soviet influence together
- Secret and un-democratic diplomacy - few knew of Nixons visit until he appears on TV in China. Lots of power in Nixon's hands.
- China doesnt become aligned with the US, stays seperate. Didnt want to provoke the USSR.
- US Closer to China, helps the detente - policy successful.
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Detente & The Soviet Union
- BG - Lyndon Johnson - efforts to ease tensions with the USSR. Agreements on Trade relations, weapons in outer space and nuclear proliferation - beginning of Detente, Nixon following in Johnsons lead
- 1970 – Soviet Union has same amount of weapons as US does. Vietnam war still ongoing, saps any popular desire to engage in another confrontation with the USSR. Inflation at 5% - economic pressures on administration aswell.
- Needed a new approach in foreign policy – need to extend détente and lower the international tensions.
- Nixon and Kissinger did not want to ‘smash’ communism. As long as the global balance of power was maintained, a country could be communist: live and let live.
- Crux of détente – reducing international tensions – don’t need to challenge the internal makeup of communist countries
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Detente & The Soviet Union (cont.)
- In doing so - detente was never going to end the cold war - kept the balance of power frozen.
- USSR would stay a major force in the world and the US would have to live with it. Detente = making sure the two powers had a better and more stable relationship.
- Key features of Detente: Arms treaties - since 1969 negotiations ongoing for an arms limitation treaty (SALT I) Moscow 1972 - Signing of SALT I treaty - removed incentive for superpowers to buy superiority. No limit on amount of warheads on a missile - SALT I did nothing to end the arms race - moved it in a different direction. Why did the US accept the SALT I treaty? improved relations with US and PRC. if PRC fully allied with US, USSR would be in a vulnerable position. USSR needed to import technology and grain from US - would make sense to stabilise relations.
- Many republicans considered detente no different to Appeasement - USSR could still pose a threat to US interests.
- Brezhnev visits US in June 1973 - Nixon returns to Moscow in July 1974 - No further progress in limiting Arms - effort to improve relations even if not much was done - increased contact = stability in the cold war.
- March 1972 - North Vietnamese strike on south threatens to upset the signing of the SALT I treaty, showed commitment to reducing tensions - summit went ahead. realised the need for detente.
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Detente & The Soviet Union (cont.)
- What was detente supposed to do? Policy aimed at containing the USSR whilst the US strengthened itself?
- Detente meant peaceful co-existance with the USSR - no side would try use force or seek superiority.
- Detente stabilised relations - both US and USSR got benefits, however long term goals never realised (spread of communism for USSR)
- Human rights issues in USSR - right time to raise them? didnt matter what went on inside the countries as long as stability was guaranteed
- If the nuclear threat is lowered - should start talking about human rights
- Detente kept the communist regime in place - government elites decided the fates of millions
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Ford, Carter and Detente
- Late 1974 - Ford meets with Brezhnev to agree a new SALT treaty.
- Mid 1979 - Jimmy Carter meets Brezhnev in Vienna to sign the treaty - SALT II meets severe opposition from the republicans
- Reagan also criticises the SALT treaties - detente starts to fall to pieces by the end of the 1970s.
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Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
- Cold war tensions coming back - detente had not worked
- December 1979 - invasion to defend the weak communist government of Afghanistan.
- Carter imposes economic sanctions on the USSR
- Boycotts 1980s Moscow olympics and withdraws SALT II treaty from senate consideration
- Strong signs that the cold war is back - renewed cold war underway.
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- Argued that the US had fallen behind USSR in terms of military power. Increased US military spending radically - $1.7trillion over 5 years. Funded new weapons such as the stealth aircraft and D5 trident missile. Did nothing to continue or revive the SALT II treaty
- 1983 - Reagan administration pushed development of SDI (Star Wars) - Space Based anti-missile system - never actually produced
- Reagan accelerating the arms build up - hiding the tensions
- Reagan FIRMLY against detente as foreign policy - not interested in maintaining a good relationship with USSR - wanted to pile pressure on USSR
- Reagan signalled a move away from detente - although there were some successes of detente - cold war still went on underneath the mask of detente.
- Moral stance against the USSR - wanted to end the regime.
- Argued that USSR was a cause to all the unrest in the world - would be wrong to give USSR legitimacy as a superpower. Similar stance taken with Thatcher - if US built up its arms, USSR would be forced in to an agreement. cant keep up - USSR's economic problems would make it weak
- USSR would ultimately lose and cold war would come to an end.
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Ronald Reagan (cont.)
- Reagans aim - secure capitalism over communism
- US and USSR relations strained under reagan
- Strikes in Poland by shipyard workers - polish government allows for recognition of a non-communist trade union 'solidarity' 1981 - martial law imposed to destroy challenge faced by the union.
- US places economic sanctions on Poland - growing unrest in eastern europe
- 1970s - USSR in terminal decline - continues throughout the 1980s - masked by detente
- Soviet Bloc falls to pieces in 1980s - Reagan not a warmonger - did not believe in theory of Mutually Assured Destruction - wanted the complete abolition of nuclear weapons
- High tensions in early 1980s - Yuri Andropov points to worsening relations in 1983
- Sept 1983 - USSR shoot down Korean passenger jet - 'strayed into soviet airspace' - US Killed - Reagan accuses USSR of murder
- Fading away of detente revealed the same tensions that had existed throughout the cold war
- Reagan realises he is being too provocative.
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- Nixon - accomplished a great deal in foreign policy - learning to live with the USSR in the 60s and 70s, policy of detente didnt aim to end the cold war - stability
- Soviet Bloc wasnt monolithic - moscow did not control all the communist countries
- America needed a more pragmatic response - why US improved relations with PRC
- Reagan - tensions with USSR continued under detente - reagan wanted to end the cold war - denounced detente - cant be pinned completely on Reagan - invasion of Afghanistan shows the USSR's role in denouncing detente - poland etc. Sets a stage for the collapse of USSR and end to the cold war
- Detente a success in reducing tensions in the 60s and 70s - criticised that it did nothing for human rights - not designed to end cold war - left the people of eastern europe to do their own thing. detente did nothing for human rights so people took matters upon themselves - solidarity crucial in end of cold war (velvet revolutions)
- Jimmy Carter more interested in human rights than Nixon and Gerald ford had been - US had been through Vietnam and Watergate - had to boost americas moral standing in the world
- Carter tries to carry on detente at the same time - publically highlights the USSRs public rights record -Breshnev rejects. History moves away from Detente in the Reagan presidency - more stubborn.
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