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Why was there détente in the 1970s?

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Introduction

Why was there d�tente in the 1970s? The period from the Second World War to the mid 1970's was one of great hostility and tension between the U.S and Russia. Both had emerged from World War II as superpowers. It was during this timeframe, that the frightening prospect of nuclear war became closer and closer. Nuclear war would mean the end to mankind, so the need for a d�tente became necessary. D�tente is a French word that was used during the Cold War meaning 'the easing or relaxing of tensions between nations.' The reasons for a d�tente were not only nuclear related. Russia was in severe economic crisis and was facing isolation from the non-communist world and public opinion in America believed that the Cold War was 'unjustifiable both economically and morally.' After the Second World War, the world had entered into a dangerous period where complete destruction could occur at any time. Nuclear weapons had been developed as a threat to enemies. The tension that was created between the U.S and Russia led to the massive 'arms race.' ...read more.

Middle

(MAD) This was the idea that no matter who launched first, the other side could get off a 'second strike.' This would mean that both sides would be completely destroyed was one of the major reasons that the U.S and Russia needed to scale down the 'arms race' and organise a peace agreement. A d�tente was the only sensible option. This period also became known as the 'balance of terror.' The need for a 'second strike' capability led both Russia and the U.S to spend considerable money and effort in the 1960's. They increased their supply of warheads and placed nuclear weapons in underground silos and in submarines, where they would be very effective and hard to detect. The need for a 'second strike' also led to the development of anti-ballistic missile systems, (ABM's) which could intercept missiles and decrease the potential damage. The submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) also became an effective threat. This weapon was able to fire a nuclear missile from an undetected location immediately offshore of the enemy's coastline. ...read more.

Conclusion

It would decrease hostility and tension in the world. For the U.S, a d�tente would mean they could move troops out of Vietnam, whilst for Russia it would mean they were no longer economically isolated. In November 1969 Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) took place between the superpowers. In 1972 'SALT 1' was signed which placed a 5-year limit on the number of Soviet and American ballistic missiles. In 1974 the superpowers agreed that they should only develop one ABM system each. Many believed that the d�tente hadn't worked and that the 'arms race' was still on. In 1979 Russia invaded Afghanistan and the d�tente was over. Many people criticised the U.S government. However, had it not of been for the d�tente, then the world might not be what it is today. It helped reduce the chance of nuclear war, something that it did effectively and something that everyone wanted. Summary: * Both had reasons to improve relations. * US fighting in Vietnam - needed to slow Arms Race to reduce burden on economy. * USSR concerned about Communist China. * Both sides wanted to reduce economic expenditure. M. Assem Bizrah ...read more.

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