Kissinger's Involvement In Detente And The Salt Negotiations

1698 words - 7 pages

This investigation assesses the success of the policies of Henry Kissinger during the tense period of the Cold War and the sequential years, specifically pertaining to the peace summits with Russian officials in 1972 and 1973 with regard to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties. This investigation evaluates Kissinger’s impact during the period of the SALT treaties on the reduction of nuclear arms and the implementation of détente. Specifically, how Kissinger got what he wanted, the risks involved, and the outcome of the treaties. The sources used, Détente and the Nixon Doctrine, by Robert S. Litwak and Kissinger: 1973, The Crucial Year, by Alistair Horne, will then be evaluated for their origins, purposes, values, and limitations.

B. Summary of the Evidence
On January 20, 1969, Richard Milhouse Nixon became the 37th president of the United States and faced great challenges at home and on the world front . Richard Nixon selected Henry Kissinger to be his assistant for National Security Affairs. Under their control for the next 6 years, they oversaw the formation of détente and the creation of Triangular Diplomacy. The Nixon-Kissinger strategy in approaching the Soviet Union was full of contradictions and risks. One of the most severe and most notable risks was the potential preemptive nuclear strike that the Soviets were threatening to take against China; an attempt by the Soviets to bully the Chinese into negotiating the Sino-Soviet border. Becoming involved in the Soviet affairs was very dangerous, because as Kissinger observed, the balance of power due to missile strength was shifting from the United States holding the upper hand to that of the Soviets being in control . Kissinger, upon realization of this fact, came to understand that “détente was not the cause of these conditions but one of the necessities for mastering them. ” Therefore, in Kissinger’s negotiations, his primary goal was peace by détente, followed by a secondary goal of a reduction in Soviet missile capabilities.
By November of 1969, Nixon boldly announced his new doctrine. Kissinger became his creative and powerful partner in expertly implementing the policy. A key element of Kissinger’s pioneering role in Foreign Policy was the support he gave détente. Specifically during a period of almost three years, working tirelessly both in public and secretive talks, on May 26, 1972 he engineered the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, in which numerical limits were placed on the amount of nuclear weapons deemed acceptable . The goal of this treaty was to reduce and possibly eliminate the building of MIRV’s; multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles that allowed for multiple missiles to hit multiple targets in one shot. Although the United States was actually ahead with regard to this specific type of rocket technology, the Soviets were in the process of developing an even more powerful MIRV. The Soviet goal was to get rid of the American...

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