Thursday, 26 September 2013

Brief overview of Detente Policy during Cold War Era

Detente Policy Brief Overview
After the world war II, the tensions between the communist world and the capitalist world exacerbated. U.S and Soviet Union emerged as the super powers in the world and the cold war at many intervals ws close to turning into a nuclear war, specially in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. There was a need to for healthy relationships among the communists countries and capitalist countries (most importantly US and USSR) to promote peace and safety, so that a third world war was prevented. Wars cause mass destruction, cost a fortune, and millions of people brutally lose their lives. It’s worthwhile to notice that disputes should be resolved through dialogue rather than military actions.
Detente is the policy that aimed at reducing the cold war tensions in the world. It is defined as the dealing with other nations in a practical and realistic manner. It was carried out between 1969-80. The policy required showing of flexibility at both ends so that it could be effectively implemented.
Richard Nixon realized the importance of reduced tensions, and he was instrumental in initiating the policy. He was the first president to visit China after World war II. He also visited Soviet Union in 1972. His visit to the Soviet Union was of paramount importance due to the fact, he was there to sign a treaty that would limit the number of ballistic missiles each country could hold. The treaty was called Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty or SALT I. He, and his Russian counterpart Brezhnev signed the treaty that was a historical achievement.
In the Western world, Willy Brandt (Chancellor of West Germany) quickly realized that healthy relationships would be beneficial for West Germany and his policy showed great flexibility and commitment to reducing the Cold War tensions. He showed desire to improve the relationships with Soviet Union for the promotion of peace. He was also willing to recognize East Germany and Poland’s West border. Having profitable and good relationships with the neighbours is the key to the economic and socio-political growth of a country.
After Nixon’s tenure ended, Jimmy Carter assumed the duties of presidency in the United States and he continued with the policy of Detente as a part of his foreign policy. His attempts were directed to negotiate further reduction in nuclear missiles. Although Carter’s efforts were honest, his attempts to put further limits on nuclear ammunition by signing SALT II in 1979 were hampered because the Congress refused to pass the SALT-II treaty.

End of Detente Policy:

The basic reason cited for the rejection of SALT II by the Congress is the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet Union in 1979. The Communist government of Afghanistan was falling on its feet and Soviet intervened to prevent its downfall.However, the efforts ended in failure and Soviets had to retreat in 1988. It was also seen as the 1st sign of Soviet weekness and kick started the downfall of the Soviet empire. After the Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, U.S boycotted the 1980 Olympic games which were to be held in Moscow to register their protest. The invasion effectively ended the Detnte policy there and then in 1980.

The Iranian Revolution:

In addition to that, the regime of U.S supported Shah of Iran was overthown in 1979. Iranian Revolution lead by Ayat Ullah Khomeni swept accross and Religious dictatorship came into power. 60 American hostages were held for 444 days and as a consequence of that, President Carter lost popularity in United States. Iran became a strict Islam law state there and then. That was a brief overview of the Detente Policy. Leave your feedback. :)


  1. World war 1 and World war 2 both resulted in a lot of destruction. The main purpose of Detente policy was to reduce the cold war tensions. Thanks for increasing our knowledge on this!

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