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Literally ‘loosening’. Détente was used to refer to periods of reduced tension in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was closely associated with the process (and progress) of arms control, and the main period of détente ran from the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 to the late 1970s. The term has fallen out of use with the end of the Cold War, but it has generic standing and can be used to describe any easing of tension in relations between states that are otherwise expected to be hostile.

Barry Buzan


Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics

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