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Why did detente come to an end?

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andrew mountford

on 17 April 2015

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Transcript of Why did detente come to an end?

Why did Detente come to an end?
Tensions in the Third World
Soviet violations in human rights
Brezhnev's health
Rise of the neo-conservatives in America
Iran Hostage Crisis 1979
While Europe may have stabilised and the superpowers engaged in negotiation - competition between the powers for hegemony in the third world intensified undermining the whole process of detente
Increasing Soviet influence in third world - especially Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia
Angola - gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and new government formed by MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party) who were supported by Soviet Union and Cuba (Cuban troops - involved defence of Angola against South Africa)
New US president Jimmy Carter (1977) increased US support for anti-communist groups and governments in the developing world
US supported counter-insurgencies in El Salvador and Nicaragua
The Sandinista's (revolutionary group) overthrow Nicaraguan dictator in 1979
Throughout the 1980s the US supported the Contras in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista's
1980 A right-wing junta takes over in El Salvador. U.S. begins massively supporting El Salvador, assisting the military in its fight against FMLN guerrillas. Death squads proliferate; Archbishop Romero is assassinated by right-wing terrorists; 35,000 civilians are killed in 1978-81.
Although not a new phenomena - Soviet violations of human rights became a big sticking point throughout detente as dissidents and US politicians repeatedly denounced Soviet actions
As word on the contents of the Helsinki Final Acts spread through Western broadcasts by the BBC and Radio Liberty, dissidents across the Soviet bloc began to organize independent initiatives to monitor their governments' compliance with the new Helsinki norms, specifically the "third basket" of the Final Ac
Before this in 1974 famous writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn had been expelled from Russia
Link - could link this to rise of neo-conservatives
Without firm guidance at the top - Soviet decision making became very slow and painstaking.

Brezhnev was viewed as one of the architects of detente and his demise created uncertainty and insecurity in the USSR + demise of Nixon 1974
By the late 1970s negotiation with the Soviet Union became increasingly difficult due to Brezhnev's failing health
After Carter's election in 1976 criticism of the Soviet Union became more vocal and anti-communism more strident
As America regained confidence after the Vietnam debacle right-wing neo-conservatives began to gain increasing influence
Neo-cons called for a harder line against communism and a resumption of the arms race to put pressure on Soviet Union
Although Carter has often been viewed as a 'dove' this can be misleading. Carter's presidency can be seen as a struggle between two position - 1) use of negotiation to lessen tension (advocated by Cyrus Vance - Sec of State 2) More hard-line approach advocated by Brzezinski (National Security adviser)
Zbigniew Brzezinski - Pole by birth who became US citizen - background led him to be highly suspicious of Soviet Union and as Nat. Security Adviser articulated the views of neo-conservatives
“Most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.”
― Zbigniew Brzezinski
Nov 1979 Islamic militants occupied the US Embassy in Teheran and held the US diplomats and their families hostage. Carter refused to negotiate with militants. Hostages not released in 1981 - the whole affair seemed to symbolise America's growing impotence in world affairs. Strengthened American neo-cons case.
Detente was already breaking down by the end of the 1970s. Opposition to detente also existed within the USSR and discussions in Politburo revealed criticism and unease over the Helsinki Accords - pressure was also being exerted by the military industrial complex in the Soviet Union to resume arms increases.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan December 1979 was the last straw for Carter who condemned the action and withdrew the Salt II Treaty from the Senate.
These notes should allow you to plan and write an essay on the reasons for the end of detente.
- Work the factors together in three (or 4) main paragraphs
- Draw the diagram below to show which factor you think most important and try and link the factors together
Lessons from the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan?

Read the BBC article from 2009 to find what parrallels were made between recent action in Afghanistan and the Soviet invasion
Read through section from Robert J. McMahon
p.133 tensions in 3rd world going back to 1973 Middle East
Bottom of p135 end of Vietnam and Angola
P136 Rise of neo-conservatism
P141 Afghanistan and assessment

Split into 5 groups 7mins on each section
Complete Essay Plan
Homework - revise for detente essay
Could be
Causes of detente
Achievements of detente
End of detente

Claim that Soviets dramatically extended influence in developing countries not correct - in 1976 Egypt abrogated friendship treaty and Soviets lost their most powerful ally in the region
1973 Soviet military aid in Yom Kippur War to Egypt/Syria
1975 loss of South Vietnam to 'communism'
African revolutions linked to postcolonial nationalism - gave significant oppertunities for left
1977 Cuban troops fight for Ethiopia against Somalia
i.e. Charter 77 Czechoslovakia
Soviet invasion Afghanistan 1979
TEAM B leaked 1976 - "Missile Gap"
Full transcript