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International Relations Since 1945

International Relations Since 1945 (3rd edn)

John W. Young and John Kent
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date: 23 May 2024

p. 34414. Détente in Decline, 1977–9locked

p. 34414. Détente in Decline, 1977–9locked

  • John W. YoungJohn W. YoungProfessor of International History, The University of Nottingham, UK
  •  and John KentJohn KentEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics & Political Science


This chapter examines the decline of détente during the period 1977–9. Détente suffered in part from being identified with Richard Nixon. After 1973, conservatives increasingly questioned détente, felt that the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) benefited the Soviet Union most, and were disturbed by an apparent pattern of communist adventurism abroad, in the 1973 Middle East War, Angola, and South-East Asia. The chapter first considers détente and policy-making during the time of Jimmy Carter before discussing the conflict in the Middle East, in particular the Lebanon Civil War, and the Camp David summit of 1978 that resulted in an Egyptian–Israel peace treaty. It then analyses the Ogaden conflict of 1977–8, the ‘normalization’ of Sino-American relations, and the Sino-Vietnamese War. It concludes with an assessment of the SALT II treaty.

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