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A Superpower TransformedThe Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s$
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Daniel J. Sargent

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195395471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395471.001.0001

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Human Rights and Détente

Human Rights and Détente

Chapter:
(p.198) 7 Human Rights and Détente
Source:
A Superpower Transformed
Author(s):

Daniel J. Sargent

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395471.003.0008

US foreign policy in the high Cold War was agnostic, if not indifferent, to the idea of human rights. The United States collaborated with authoritarian regimes and, under Nixon, built a cooperative relationship with the USSR, a notorious abuser of human rights. During the mid-1970s, a campaign for human rights was unfolding in the realms of transnational and domestic politics that nonetheless elevated the importance attached to human rights in US foreign policy. Congressmen, such as Donald Fraser, held hearings on the place of human rights in foreign policy, and Cold War hawks, such as Senator Henry M. Jackson, assailed détente as an accommodation of illiberal Communist regimes. The resurgence of an ideological style in US foreign policy, keyed to the language of human rights, made the pursuit of Soviet-American détente untenable in US domestic politics, with far-reaching consequences.

Keywords:   Human rights, US foreign policy, détente, Henry Kissinger, Henry M. Jackson, CSCE, domestic politics, 1976 election

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