THE END OF DETENTE? by Stephen Goode


Email this review


Describing the cold war as not the fault of ""one side,"" but ""the result of a series of misunderstandings, suspicions, and rivalries that got out of hand,"" Goode nevertheless ends with extensive quotes from critics of the Kissinger-staged early '70s detente. The gist is that detente was ultimately a matter of ""atmospherics, not substance,"" that we made too many concessions to the Soviets, that they deliberately used the period to build up their own military and economic strength at our expense, and that the Soviets began the erosion of detente by supporting Egypt in the Yom Kippur War and ended it by invading Afghanistan. All this is valid, if sketchy, but Goode does even less digging in regard to American ""anti-Communist"" intervention elsewhere. He characterizes our approach to El Salvador as support for a moderate government against Soviet-aided extremists; he ignores any economic interest behind our actions; and though he starts by characterizing the two powers' ideological differences as Soviet Communism versus American defense of individualism and democracy (and enmity toward ""all forms of dictatorship""), he mentions our success over the Soviets in installing various sympathetic governments without mentioning the dictatorial and anti-democratic nature of some of these regimes. To the extent that this chronology-with-selected-quotes suggests the difficulty of getting along with each other, it may provoke thought; but in the end the book recalls a typical TV newscast: a gloss of reported actions, quoted rhetoric from all concerned, a platitudionous conclusion to the effect that we still ""need detente,"" but a limited view of the backstage realities.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Watts