Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were the architects of détente between the United States and the Soviet Union. Its purpose was to keep these two superpowers from bringing on World War III. The assumption was that peaceful co-existence is possible and is necessary to avoid a nuclear holocaust. No one really expected that this would end the struggle between capitalism and Communism; the motive was to assure that the war would be fought with political, economic, and social weapons, not with bombs and guns.
Détente has encountered strong opposition from some Americans, such as Senator Henry Jackson and Governor Ronald Reagan. Russians like Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakarov have made plain their opposition to détente in their powerful critiques of the brutal Soviet system. They and many others argue that détente has been a one-way street with the advantages going mainly to the Soviets. They can point to the recent Helsinki meeting, where President Ford signed an agreement interpreted by Leonid Brezhnev as an acceptance of the Soviet conquest of such countries as Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Brezhnev, who like us has his problems, said: “No one should try to dictate to other people, on the basis of foreign policy considerations of one kind or another, the manner in which they ought to manage their internal affairs.” This was almost laughable considering the open or clandestine activities of the Soviets in other countries such as Italy, Portugal, Viet Nam, Chile, Cuba, and the nations of Africa.
We are at a point where economics and politics may intersect. A bad harvest has come to the Soviet Union. The Soviets badly need grain, and they have made substantial purchases in America with more to come. Undoubtedly Brezhnev ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more