Economic and political reasons for détente

Political reasons for détente

  • Cuban Missile Crisis brought US and USSR to the brink of war.
  • France took a more independent policy direction from the 1960s.
  • West German ostpolitik showed that relations could be improved.
  • Sino-Soviet split and growing Soviet strength brought a rapprochement between US and China.
  • Domestic politics: the public mood for détente in US was increasing, especially as a result of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, and growing disarmament movement.

Economic reasons for détente

  • Arms spending was unsustainable for both the US and USSR. USSR needed to spend more of GDP on arms than the US to maintain parity with US.
  • Vietnam War was having economic impact on US. Détente could help US get out of Vietnam.
  • USSR needed greater international trade, with West, for economy to develop.
  • Improved US-China relations could leave USSR economically isolated.