In 1975, the Helsinki Final Act—an accord among the United States, the Soviet Union, and virtually every European country—formalized the era’s East-West détente. This book represents perhaps the most richly documented account of the negotiations, which are best remembered for enshrining a strongly Western conception of human rights but also sketched out a far broader code of conduct for East-West relations, including the mutual recognition of stable borders. Most of the participants hoped the agreement would stabilize and legitimate the status quo and thus tone down the Cold War, although a few Western countries hoped the document might ultimately help bring down the Soviet bloc. Morgan endorses the widespread belief that the agreement was decisive in ending the Cold War. This is odd, because his own evidence belies such a claim. The accord was nonbinding, and efforts by Western diplomats to promote human rights soon collapsed into diplomatic acrimony. In the early 1980s, the Soviets and their henchmen handily crushed opposition groups in Eastern Europe. Only the atrophy of the Soviet system and the eventual entry into office of Mikhail Gorbachev—neither caused by the Helsinki agreement—eventually put an end to the Cold War.
In This Review
In This Review
Most Read Articles
When Stalin Faced Hitler
Who Fooled Whom?
The Lost Art of American Diplomacy
Can the State Department Be Saved?
How Iran Sees Its Standoff With the United States
And What Trump Should Do to Solve the Problem He Created
The Right Way to Deal With Huawei
The United States Needs to Compete With Chinese Firms, Not Just Ban Them
Greece’s New Groove
Why Athens Is No Longer Europe’s Black Sheep