How Far Was Detente Successful in the 1970’s? Essay

In the 1970’s, the cold war entered a period of Di??tente. In the following essay I am going to discuss the reasons why I feel that in some aspects it was positive and others it wasn’t. I feel that indeed, Di??tente was successful in a number of ways. Firstly it reduced the defense costs for both the USSR and USA over the period by a substantial amount. With the fact that both sides agreed on SALT 1, which was when the Nuclear Weapons and long range weapon production and ownership was made to be reduced, for the safety of each other, and the world.

The first step required was in Europe, between East and West. Willy Brandt (West Leader) wanted to improve relations, and he made an Eastern Policy (Ostpolitik) that made success over the frontiers made from the war. Treaties were signed between West Germany and Warsaw Pact nations as a result of this. Moreover in Helsinki in 1975 the USA and USSR agreed that the boundaries post-1945 should be made permanent. This benefited both sides, as Russia believed that the USA now accepted that Russia’s influence over Eastern Europe could not be questioned.

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But the USA were positive as they hoped the Communist countries would allow people more human rights like freedom to express their views without fear of imprisonment. The USA also began to be on reasonable terms with China, as it began in a sporting event, with both sides participating in a table tennis game in Peking in 1971. Later a return match was played in America. This prompted talks between the two governments also. Tension gradually eased between the two sides.

This was improved further when China was allowed back into the UN, with trade and travel agreements occurring for the future. Respected individuals made visits to China and America, and later in 1979 60 large American firms set up trade outlets in China. There were, however, drawbacks to Di??tente. Firstly no agreements were made between China and Russia. Which left both seeking friendship with America, but hostile towards each other.

Also Taiwan was furious at being released from the UN, as they had represented China for over 20 years. As after China improved relations with the USA they were simply removed. Also both sides were still allowed to produce weapons at a surprisingly high rate, and with these weapons there was still a relative danger. They were also both allowed spy satellites, which proves that they were not comfortable and secure about each other, with an element of distrust still about them. Both counties also failed to agree on new SALT 2 schedule.

As SALT 1 ran out after 5 years, and it seemed old and out of date, as new weapons etc had been developed over the last 5 years that were not included in the agreement. When SALT 2 was finally agreed to President Carter quoted it was the “most detailed, far-reaching, comprehensive treaty in the history of arms control” and these were so complicated that a longer deal was signed. However an event on Christmas Day when the USSR went into Afghanistan saw the destruction of all Di??tente and peace between the two sides that had been built up over the last time period.

The cold war was truly about to begin again, with Di??tente well and truly abolished. In conclusion, I feel that Di??tente had a number of positive and negative features over the 10-year period. It ultimately triggered better relationships between the USA/ USSR and USA/China. But it didn’t include the two communist nations, and ultimately it was destroyed by one small incident. So it had so many positives, but just one incident made tensions appear so easily again.

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