THE DIPLOMACY OF DETENTE: The Kissinger Era by Coral Bell


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Who wins and who loses in dÉtente? According to Coral Bell, an Australian foreign affairs specialist who has taught in the US, Britain, and Australia, this typical question misses an important aspect of dÉtente--one which distinguishes it from previous ways of regulating big-power relationships. In Bell's view, dÉtente is ""a mode of management of adversary power"" whereby the three participants--the US, USSR, and China--seek benefits in different areas, making possible gains by all three without necessarily implying losses to the others. Writing as a traditional diplomatic historian, Bell rescues dÉtente from the realm of simplifying polemic and endows it with the status of a rational, coherent conception of international relations subject to systematic analysis on its own terms. In this book, Henry Kissinger is viewed as the principal articulator of a policy with a historical dimension, and Bell is better able to distinguish between the policy and the former Secretary of State than other writers on the same subject (e.g., Roger Morris in his recent Uncertain Greatness). Utilizing a case-study approach, she also explores the effects of detente upon small-power governments' policy formation, arguing that it has provided a widened scope for action by local leaders, freeing them from the rigid framework of Cold War diplomacy. More than just an intelligent defense of dÉtente, Bell's work is an important step forward in the scholarly treatment of its subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's