Causes and limitations of détente

Causes of détente

  1. America was shocked by the Vietnam War and wanted to stay out of world affairs. There was also a vociferous CND movement in the West.
  2. The arms race was very expensive for both superpowers.
  3. The price of oil rocketed in the 1970s, and both superpowers experienced economic problems.

Limitations of détente

  1. The Non-Proliferation Treaty did not stop other countries developing nuclear weapons (eg China, and perhaps South Africa and Israel).
  2. Neither Russia nor America kept to the SALT1 agreement. Neither side reduced their conventional weapons. Further talks were much less successful and a SALT2 Treaty in 1979 added little.
  3. In the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, America supported Israel, and Russia supported Egypt and Syria.
  4. The Helsinki Agreement achieved nothing - it confirmed the Iron Curtain and Russia ignored its promises about human rights.
  5. Table tennis and space meetings were just one-off propaganda stunts.
  6. Brezhnev said that Communists would still try to destroy capitalism. Some historians suggest that Nixon only went to China to drive a wedge between Russia and China.