Detente and its Discontents

I have alwys believed that Kissinger titled this chapter with full knowledge of its allusion to Sigmund Freud’s famous book of 1930, “Civilization and its Discontents”.  In Freud’s book he wrote that individuals and societies are in inherent conflict.  Individuals have certain desires which orderly society must thwart.  I wonder how Kissinger would explain this vis-a-vis “Detente”.

So what exactly is detente and why don’t people like it?  How does it work and what are some tangible examples that Kissinger offers up?  What goes on in the Middle East, with arms control, eastern europe and the USSR that serve as results of detente and to what end?  Where did this all take us?  One thing to muse over of course is the image in the “Time” magazine article above.  Who do you suppose the little man pulling on Nixon is?  I hope you know who Nixon is shaking hands with!


One Response to “Detente and its Discontents”

  1. Pierre Bergman says:

    Detente is an easing of strained relationships, especially in a political situation, according to the almighty Wikipedia. Though Kissinger seems to agree with the policy of detente, saying it flowed beautifully with European affairs, or something to that extent, he offers up reasons why conservatives didn’t like it. My interpretation, which could be very wrong, was that since we were exercising detente, we were being too lose against the “threat” of communism, and that we were losing our ideological battle. In the middle east, Israel had become or was becoming to strong, and negotiations were being ill received by both the Israelis and its neighboring ennemies. Seen in the Suez Crisis, when Nasser nationalized the Canal, Israel attacked. Furthermore, the Soviet Union was providing arms to radical Arab groups. I feel as though the middle east would be too hard to negotiate and that both having interests in the Middle East would surely question the period of detente. Kissinger assesses Nixon’s policy as thinking as the world and nations as seeking solely beneficial aspects even, and especially the United States, instead of fighting out of goodwill. I don’t really undedrstand how that ties in to the whole matter. The arms control I feel was just a phony, since the United States defence never changed or wanted to change any arm amounts, while negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States were useless because the terms could be bypassed, because of bombers, boats, etc.

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