This book investigates the underlying reasons for the longevity of détente and its impact on East–West relations.

The volume examines the relevance of trade across the Iron Curtain as a means to facilitate mutual trust, as well as the emergence of new habits of transparency regardless of recurring military crises. A major theme of the book concerns Helmut Schmidt’s foreign policy and his contribution to the resilience of cooperative security policies in East–West relations. It examines Schmidt’s crucial role in the Euromissile crisis, his Ostpolitik diplomacy and his pan-European trade initiatives to engage the Soviet Union in a joint perspective of trade, industry and technology. Another key theme concerns the crisis in US–Soviet relations and the challenges of meaningful leadership communication between Washington and Moscow in the absence of backchannel diplomacy during the Carter years. The book depicts the freeze in US–Soviet relations after the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, the declaration of martial law in Poland, and Helmut Schmidt’s efforts to serve as a mediator and interpreter working for a relaunch of US–Soviet dialogue. Eventually, the book highlights George Shultz’s pivotal role in the Reagan Administration’s efforts to improve US-Soviet relations, well before Mikhail Gorbachev’s arrival.

This book will be of interest to students of Cold War studies, diplomatic history, foreign policy and international relations.

chapter |17 pages


Helmut Schmidt, George Shultz and the longevity of détente

chapter 1|26 pages

Trade and the resilience of détente

Helmut Schmidt and the economic dimension of Ostpolitik, 1974–1976

chapter 2|39 pages

Ostpolitik as “diplomatic cathedral building”

Détente in Europe and the crisis in US–Soviet Relations, 1977–1979

chapter 3|66 pages

Trade against the return of the Cold War

The construction of the Urengoy pipeline and the long détente, 1980–1982

chapter 4|39 pages

Gardening and reengagement

US–Soviet cooperation and the transformation of East–West relations amidst crisis, 1983–1985

chapter |7 pages

Conclusion and outlook

Very long détente instead of Cold War endgame

chapter |7 pages

Note on sources