A fresh book by two Brookings Institution scholars declares that the risk of war with Russia remains high and that the Soviet Union nevertheless poses the best danger to the safety of the United States. The appearance of the analysis suggested that the time of “detente” among America and the Soviet Union was nearing its finish.
Since the final of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union have been locked in a contest for world energy defined as the Cold War. During the first 1970s, nonetheless, the administration of President Richard Nixon began to pursue an insurance plan of “detente”-actually a lessening of tensions-toward the Russians. This was an insurance plan strongly supported by both Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, and their diplomatic overtures to the Soviet Union have already been climaxed by way of a summit meeting in Moscow that all attended in May 1972. At the meeting, the SALT-I agreement was signed, setting limits on a range of nuclear weapons.
By 1976, so even, the spirit of detente appeared to have evaporated. Since the SALT-I agreement, the United States grappled using its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, hostilities continued to simmer in the Middle East, and Africa (specifically Angola) was learning to be a new site of Cold War confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In light of the modify, the publication of the book Setting National Priorities in September 1976, by Brookings Institution scholars Henry Owen and Charles Schultze had not been entirely surprising. Owen and Schultze argued that the Soviet Union remained “determined to continue to dominate Eastern Europe and to extend its influence in the world, whatever we may do.” The arms race, they declared, would continue. Their conclusion was definite: “The worst threat to our well-being remains what it has been ever since World War II–a clash between U.S. and Soviet armed forces.” Only improved defense spending could shield the United States from disaster.
Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, the final vestiges of detente continued to evaporate. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a productive Marxist revolution in Nicaragua, and the election of Ronald Reagan-who declared that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire”-were all indicators that the Cold War was back full swing. It had not been till Mikhail Gorbachev took energy in Russia and reawakened the dormant policy of detente in the mid-1980s that U.S.-Soviet relations notably enhanced.