11 Preface By the early 1970s the West’s leading politicians agreed that the Cold War years were over. Britain’s Prime Minister Edward Heath observed that ‘détente’ had succeeded the ‘Cold War’, U.S. President Richard Nixon declared the Cold War being ‘over’ and an ‘era of negotiations’ to be ahead, his national security adviser Henry A. Kissinger referred to ‘modern methods’ with which the conflict of systems could be civilised and perpetuated, and in Bonn Helmut Schmidt simply noted the ad- vent of ‘a new era’ in East-West relations. The early 1970s were clearly perceived as a watershed in the ongo- ing East-West conflict. The rather volatile nuclear stalemate was stabi- lised through direct communication and a growing degree of selective cooperation between the opposing parties. This did not mean that the conflict of systems and ideologies was over, far from. Instead, antago- nistic cooperation helped to change (‘to civilise’) the code of conduct within this conflict, thereby introducing more effective safeguards against a potential military or even nuclear confrontation, in a way refocusing the conflict to its social, economic and ideological essentials. For the observers in the early 1970s the question was therefore not if détente or – to borrow a term by Lyndon B. Johnson – ‘bridge build- ing’ had succeeded the military Cold War of the 1950s and early 1960s, but what ‘détente’ actually meant. Was it, as Nixon and Kissinger in- sisted, a defensive strategy for guaranteeing the existing status quo in Europe against an apparently...
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