The Era of Détente

Authored by: Craig Daigle

The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415677011
eBook ISBN: 9781315882284
Adobe ISBN: 9781134700653


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In the late 1960s, after a decade of often contentious and bitter rivalry between the two superpowers which led to a nuclear confrontation over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, crises over the status of Berlin, communist control of Eastern Europe, and proxy wars in Africa, Latin America, and Indochina, the Cold War took a dramatic turn. Leaders across the globe abandoned the “heated ideological fervor” that characterized much of the early Cold War and instead pursued what one historian has called a “balance of order” in an effort to promote an era of peaceful coexistence between the major communist and capitalist powers. 1 Such a balance changed the nature of the US–Soviet relationship; it ended the longstanding political and diplomatic isolation between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the West; and it helped produce the Helsinki Accords, which not only brought security and stability to the European continent, but also facilitated human rights activism that contributed to the end of the Cold War.

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