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Changing Concepts of Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1950s–1980s

Edited by Oliver Bange and Poul Villaume

Oliver Bange is senior historian at the Centre for Military History and Social Sciences, German Armed Forces, in Potsdam and lecturer at the University of Mannheim.
Poul Villaume is professor of contemporary history at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen.

“Shifting the focus to European nations and societies, this work takes the Old Continent as the heart of the analysis, making it not a passive instrument in the hands of the two superpowers, but rather a fully-fledged actor in East-West relations. Studying détente in its many facets (strategic, geopolitical, economic and social), The Long Détente also refines the chronology and stresses the interaction between foreign policies and domestic priorities. It offers a stimulating and quite novel interpretation of East-West relations.”--Marie-Pierre Rey, Professor of Russian and Soviet History, Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris

This book presents pieces of evidence, which – taken together – lead to an argument that goes against the grain of the established Cold War narrative. The argument is that a “long détente” existed between East and West from the 1950s to the 1980s, that it existed and lasted for good (economic, national security, societal) reasons, and that it had a profound impact on the outcome of the conflict between East and West and the quintessentially peaceful framework in which this “endgame” was played.

New, Euro-centered narratives are offered, including both West and East European perspectives. These contributions point to critical inconsistencies and inherent problems in the traditional U.S. dominated narrative of the “Victory in the Cold War.” The argument of a “long détente” does not need to replace the ruling American narrative. Rather, it can and needs to be augmented with European experiences and perceptions. After all, it was Europe – its peoples, societies, and states – that stood both at the ideological and military frontline of the conflict between East and West, and it was here that the struggle between liberalism and communism was eventually decided.

“Oliver Bange and Poul Villaume have assembled an impressive group of young European historians of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and have produced an important contribution to our understanding of the origins and long lasting consequences of the European détente during the Cold War. The Long Détente, with its impressive multiarchival and multinational sources, challenge existing narratives which privilege the great power politics of the United States and the Soviet Union. These articles compel a reconsideration of détente's European roots and persistence. The book is first class scholarship with implications for contemporary diplomacy aswell.”--Thomas Schwartz Professor of History and Political Science, Vanderbilt University, TN, USA

978-963-386-127-1, cloth
360 pages, 2017
$65.00 / €60.00 / £52.00


East-West Conflict: Short Cold War and Long Détente. An Essay on Terminology and Periodization
Gottfried Niedhart
The Long Détente and the Soviet Bloc, 1953–1983
Csaba Békés
Soviet Snowdrops in the Ice Age? The Surprising Attempt of an Early Economic Détente in 1952
Mikhail Lipkin
European Long-Term Investments in Détente. The Implications of East-West Economic Cooperation
Werner Lippert
No End to “Political Ideological Diversion.” The Stasi Perspective as Circumstantial Evidence for a Long Détente
Oliver Bange
New Security Concepts and Transnational Party Networks, 1976–1983. The Socialist International, Scandilux, and the Overcoming of the Crisis of Détente
Rasmus Mariager
Continuity and Transformation. Alternate Visions of Italy’s Three Decades of Détente
Laura Fasanaro
Perception of the Other: “Kremlinologists” and “Westerners.” East and West German Analysts and Their Mutual Perceptions, 1977–1985
Sabine Loewe-Hannatzsch
Pathfinders and Perpetuators of Détente. Small States of NATO and the Long Détente: The Case of Denmark, 1969–1989
Poul Villaume
Overcoming the Crisis of Détente, 1979−1983. Coordinating Eastern Policies between Paris, Bonn, and London
Christian Wenkel
Lyndon B. Johnson and the Building of East-West Bridges. Catching Up with Détente in Europe, 1963–1966
Gry Thomasen
Between Power Politics and Morality. The United States, the Long Détente, and the Transformation of Europe, 1969–1985
Stephan Kieninger

"The volume offers a corrective via a Eurocentric narrative that examines economic and political overtures dating to the early 1950s between European countries and the Eastern bloc. Chapters dealing with these matters are well researched and offer insight into episodes (like the Moscow International Economic Conference) that are little studied. As a volume on European diplomacy from the 1950s to the 1980s it is a fine contribution to the literature." - Choice

"Wenn man die Jahre 1946/47 bis 1989/90 in der internationalen Politik und darüber hinaus betrachtet, konkurrieren derzeit mehrere Deutungsangebote. Der Kalte Krieg beherrscht als Terminus fast unangefochten das Feld, hat sich in Publikationsreihen und Forschungsinstitutionen festgesetzt und einen ähnlichen Härtegrad wie Absolutismus und Imperialismus erlangt, Begriffe, die längst wissenschaftlich differenziert und aufgebrochen wurden. Eine Möglichkeit für den Kalten Krieg besteht darin, unterschiedliche Phasen der zunehmend nuklear bestimmten allgemeinen Kriegsgefahr zu differenzieren, also zumeist einen ersten und zweiten Kalten Krieg vor und nach 1980 mit der neuen Ost-West-Konfrontation über Nachrüstung et cetera zu verzeichnen, vielleicht auch drei Kalte Kriege zu unterscheiden. Dann sollte man die Zwischenzeiten anders bezeichnen, als Ost-West-Konflikt oder Detente. Genau diese Bezeichnung Detente macht es möglich, einen anderen Modus einzuführen, einen Verlaufstypus zu kennzeichnen, der sich letztlich 1989/90 durchsetzte. Oder aber: Der Kalte Krieg dauerte nur bis in die 1950er-Jahre, gegebenenfalls bis Mauerbau und Kubakrise – dann wurde manches anders. Genau diesem dritten Ansatz und damit einem starken Trend der letzten Jahre ist dieser Sammelband gewidmet." - H-Net, Clio-online