Détente Facts

Détente Facts
The Détente generally refers to the period in the Cold War during the 1970s when relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were relatively cordial and a number of summits took place resulting in arms reduction treaties. After the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, leaders from both the United States and the Soviet Union realized that both countries could be annihilated if a full-scale nuclear war happened. A number of precautions were enacted, such as the installation of the "red phone," to prevent an accidental war from happening. By the late 1960s, the Soviets had problems with other eastern bloc nations, such as Czechoslovakia, rebelling against their authority and the rise of China presented a threat to their far eastern border. In the United States during the same time the Vietnam War was becoming unpopular and Americans wanted to focus their attention on the home front. Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968 partially on a platform of improving relations with the Soviets, or Détente. The period of Détente is generally thought to have ended in late 1979/early 1980 with two major events: first, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 and then the election of Ronald Reagan to the United States presidency in November 1980.
Interesting Détente Facts:
Détente is a French word meaning "relaxing" or in more modern usage "cooling off."
The Soviets invaded Afghanistan to keep a pro-Soviet communist regime in that country from being toppled by the Islamist Mujahedeen, which was comprised of many fighters who would later become the Taliban.
Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982), was the only Soviet leader during the Détente, as he was in power from 1964 until his death.
In 1972, Nixon and Brezhnev formalized the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement (SALT), which was followed SALT II in 1979: both treaties limited the amount of nuclear missiles both countries could have.
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) of 1975 was the first cooperative American-Soviet space flight. It had a major impact on the cultural landscape of the United States during the 1970s as millions of Americans witnessed their astronauts shake hands and exchange gifts and flags with the Soviet cosmonauts.
When the SALT I was signed, the Biological Weapons Convention, which prevented the further development of biological weapons by signatory nations, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) were also signed.
The Helsinki Accords was a 1975 non-binding act signed by the United States, Canada, and most of the European nations that sought to respect human rights while defusing Cold War tensions.
Ronald Reagan took a much more active role in confronting communism. He increased military spending, supported anti-communist right-wing insurgencies in Afghanistan and Nicaragua, and championed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), more commonly known as "Star Wars."
The United States boycotting of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow by President Jimmy Carter in retaliation for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was seen as another event that led to the end of the Détente.

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