U.S.-Soviet Relations: Goodbye to Détente

Courtesy Reuters

After the events of 1980 the Soviet Union and the United States both must come to terms with new versions of each other. American hopes for a more reasonable, more conservative Soviet Union finally collapsed, replaced by a new eagerness to contest the Soviets for military superiority and global position. The Soviet leaders discovered both the exhilaration and the pain that accompany the dramatic and unexpected use of power; they were also reminded of the recurring dilemmas that beset any nation that manages a restless empire.

Recent Soviet-American relations can now be divided neatly into two historical periods, both of them ended. The first lasted for a quarter-century after World War II, and was typified by what the Soviets called-disdainfully but also enviously-American diplomacy from a "position of strength." During those years the United States was unmistakably the stronger power, but somehow its superior strength did not create a satisfactory Soviet-American

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