Causes of détente

  • Fear of war – The cuban missiles crisis had drawn attention to the threat of nuclear conflict, more sophisticated weapons and delivery systems were adding to tension, by 1969 the USSR and USA were evenly matched and could equally destroy the other.

  • Needs of the USSR – Brezhnev continued with the policy of peaceful coexistence by Khrushchev, compromising ideological beliefs for the sake of national security, USA perceived to be weaker during the Vietnam War, USSR were reaching parity with with the US in terms of numbers of weapons and could negotiate from a position of power, USSR fearful of US starting a new technology race, needed to stabilise the situation of the Eastern bloc and gain acceptance it was part of the Soviet sphere of influence, the sino-soviet split, improve domestic economy and standards of living, access to new technologies e.g. micro computers.

  • Needs of the USA – Failures of the Vietnam war led to re-evaluation of foreign policy, domestic costs e.g. high inflation and budget deficit, Western criticism of US foreign policy, right wing republican politics on the decline due to it being dented by the failures of the war so support for detente rose, social unrest – was clear fundings needed to be diverted to social reform not the military, european powers catching up on US commerce and financial services.

  • European needs – political instability e.g. Paris, Willy Brandt forged new links between East & West Germany known a Ostpolitik.

What role did economics play?

  • Oil crisis 1973 – Both superpowers had a high demand for oil and both powers got drawn to affairs in the Middle East. Egypt/Syria invaded Israel (Yom Kippur War). OPEC decided to raise the price of oil to put pressure on US and Britain who supported Israel. They later decided to cut supplies. This led to widespread panic in the West. Economic situations were made worse. There was lost economic growth, recession and inflation. The UD was now humiliated. It also threatened car and freeway use. The crisis benefitted the USSR because they were an oil exporting country. They could sell more oil and use it to buy grain and technology. The US rebounded by creating a G7, a committee of finance ministers of the 7 largest western economies. This allowed them to co-operate more, restored confidence and stability. They also designed more fuel efficient products. They became concerned of Russia getting hold of the middle east as it might lead to another oil price shock. The outcome led to the start of detente as it highlighted the US's economic problems but also restricted negotiations with USSR as they had an economic advantage with the OPEC crisis.

  • USSR economy – Many resources were directed to military industrial sector to ensure they did not fall behind the arms race, vast sums of money were being sent to support its communist allies, the economy was inflexible and easy disrupted in a crisis, technology was falling behind the west. Over emphasis


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