Why was there a period of detente during the 1970s and 1980s and in what ways did detente manifest itself?

Published: March 19, 2017

After the Vietnam War there was a period of détente during 1970s and 1980s. The outcomes of the war were devastating and the following are the reasons for permanent relaxation of tensions between the East and the West:

  • The failure of American policies to contain communism.
  • Financial difficulty faced by USSR due to increased spending on defence and not on public welfare.
  • Western Europe was worried because if a war broke out between USSR and USA then western Europe will be the front line.

For these reasons détente was desired by the nations. The following are the instances when détente manifested itself:

  • In 1971, Communist China was allowed to become a member of UN
  • In 1972, signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) between USSR and USA which decide how many missiles any nation could have. It not only reduced the armaments but also slowed the arms race.
  • In 1975, Helsinki Agreement in which USA, Canada and European countries accepted the European frontiers which were created after Second World War. The communist countries granted human rights, freedom of speech and right to leave the country to its citizen.
  • In 1985, Gorbachev improved Sino-Russian relations by signing five-year agreements on trade and economic cooperation.
  • In 1986, Gorbachev and Reagan Signed Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) in which destruction of nuclear weapons was agreed with monitoring.

All these instance marked the détente and the end of Cold War in 1989 with the brought down of Berlin Wall, the hostilities got reduced significantly.

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