Causes of Detente

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During the late 1960s and the 1970s, the famous Détente period came into existence. Détente itself is a French term which references to the relaxation of tensions; in this case between the USA and the USSR. It is perhaps ironic that a French word was the name for American Foreign Policy during this period as relations between the two countries were very strained. This period shows how the two superpowers came to accept each other’s areas of influence in the world; both wanting to improve international relations. However, it would be too simplistic to see this as the only cause for Détente:

  • Détente was very much a mutual policy, with both powers seeking this idea of coexistence
  • There was economic necessity from both sides to cut down arms spending, the Cold War was incredibly expensive and both sides needed to curb their spending
  • Both countries were also aware of the benefit which trading with each other would bring, particularly given the poor economic conditions at the time
    • The need for trade was especially important


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