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Chapter 29

EURO 3300 Chapter Notes - Chapter 29: Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Helmut Kohl

European Studies
Course Code
EURO 3300
Roberta Cauchi- Santoro

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Week 11
Chapter 29: Lifting the Iron Curtain – 1969-1991 page #880-890:
Politics in Western Europe:
In the 1970s, tensions between western and eastern Europe relaxed, and governments
began to consider issues on which they could cooperate, such as human rights initiatives
At the same time, the West faced important internal challenges, such as an energy crisis after
1973 and the emergence of radical terrorist groups from Northern Ireland to Italy
Leftist parties were less able to deal with these problems than their center-right counterparts,
who gained political control in many places by 1980
Yet, especially in southern Europe and in France, left-wing parties held the power throughout
the 1980s
The Common Market expanded but was also burdened by the weaker new members that
jointed in this decade
Relaxed Tensions and Renewed Cooperation:
The 1968 protests challenged western European parties to define a new kind of politics in
which people could participate more directly and be counted at the same time, the
presence of the two superpowers raised questions of European autonomy in international
relations, especially in Europe
These 2 concerns combined to produce 2 new directions in European politics: a focus on
internal stability and a stabilization of international relations
Détente “release from tension”; easing of political relations between the Soviet Union and
the United States in the 1970s
In the United States, the violent protests of 1968 helped secure the victory of a Republican
law-and-order presidential candidate, Richard Nixon he returned to politics by casting
himself as a representative of stability and reason
Nixon led the way toward relaxing the tough stance that had defined relations between the
democratic and communist blocs in the previous decades
He also sought to reengage the United States in Europe by building bridges of
communication across the East-West divide
By the end of the 1960s, not only Nixon but also his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev and
many politicians in western Europe realized that the cold war had achieved a balance of
power and military escalation was unlikely
Antiballistic Missile Treaty treaty signed in 1972 by the Soviet Union and the United
States reducing their nuclear arsenals; in agreeing to limit their antiballistic missile systems
and put a cap on military spending, the Americans and Soviets conceded that military parity
was sufficient for both to feel secure and that to continue spending would in fact increase the
possibility of conflict, especially a nuclear war
This kind of self-limit thinking was a complete reversal from the military planning of the late
1940s and represented a major step toward a more peaceful international environment
West Germany’s Eastern Plans:
In West Germany, Chancellor Willy Brandt initiated a policy of normalizing relations with East
Germany and, years before Nixon and Brezhnev, worked on a policy of reconciliation
between the West and the East
His accession to power in 1969 signaled a momentous change in West Germany: it was the
first time since the 1920s that the Social Democrats were in power
In the Bundestag, which had replaced the Reichstag as West Germany’s parliament, Brandt
made his mark as a defender of democracy and socialism against communist dictatorship
Finding that the contest between the superpowers made him powerless to attend to the well-
being of ordinary Germans, he took on a pragmatic view of cold war politics by 1969, when
he was elected chancellor, he has become the foremost spokesman of Ostpolitik
o Ostpolitik “eastern politics”; West German policy of reconciliation with the
communist East

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Week 11
Brandt successfully cultivated an international image acceptable to both the United States
and the Soviet Union and, at the same time, independent of their whims Brandt appeared to
Nixon as a peaceful and loyal ally and to Brezhnev as a reasonable representative of
Brandt proceeded to make good on his promise to open up relations with the East by
travelling to Moscow and signing an important nonaggression pact with the Soviets, which
paved the way to recognizing the border between East and West Germany in 1972
This act of legitimizing the post-1945 rearrangement of European states was, in fact, the final
peace treaty of World War II and this time Europeans themselves acted on their own behalf
rather than at the beckoning of the superpowers, as had been the case in 1945
Brandt also normalized relations with other eastern European countries, most prominently
Poland possibly the most famous of his gestures of reconciliation was his visit to Warsaw in
1970, where he knelt before the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto heroes and begged the
forgiveness of the Polish nation for the horrors committed by the Third Reich
Brandt’s public career was crowned by the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his leadership role
in East-West relations
If Ostpolitik and détente meant relaxation, tolerance, and the willingness to sit down at the
negotiating table, they also encouraged greater scrutiny and manipulation of the flow of
information between East and West
Brandt became the victim of such a scandal although he had not been personally
responsible for the actions of a Soviet spy who had infiltrated his administration, Brandt lost
legitimacy at home and finally resigned in 1974
Stability and Human Rights:
Brandt’s policy on opening up trade with the East in order to improve the quality of life under
communism provided an important starting point for a broader international process of
European cooperation, and this gave birth to the Conference on Security and Cooperation
in Europe, which is a meeting of all European States, the United States, and Canada in
1972-1975 to rethink East-West relations
The process itself, together with the Helsinki Final Act (1975) it generated, created a new
forum for collaboration between East and West, especially in the area of human rights
o Helsinki Final Act accord signed in 1975 by all European states that introduced
human rights as a principle in international relations
All signatories recognized existing European borders and committed themselves to protecting
their citizens’ human rights, including freedom of religion, free speech, freedom to move or
travel, and the right to due process
The Final Act became a guiding principle for the Carter administration’s foreign policy for
Europeans, it represented a new basis for international relations that went beyond the
political interests and ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union
Helsinki Watch nongovernmental organization created to oversee the implementation of
the Helsinki Final Act’s human rights provisions
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) voluntary nonprofit organization often focused
on humanitarian issues
Often lobbying on behalf of the powerless, they also worked with western governments to
expose abuses by regimes that did not acknowledge their violations of basic human rights
and to bring international pressure to bear on them
Security and Economic Challenges from the Middle East:
As tensions across the East-West divide relaxed, European countries faced new security and
economic challenges from the Middle East
In October 1973, in alliance with Syria, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat attacked Israel, to
regain territories lost by both states in the Six-Day War the Yom Kippur War grew in
complexity as Arab states lent support and troops to Egypt, while Israel enlisted the support
of the United States and western Europe
o Anwar el-Sadat (1918-1981) President of Egypt who contributed to the rise of Arab
nationalism in the 1970s

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Week 11
o Six-Day War war fought in 1967 between Israel and its Arab neighbours Egypt,
Jordan, and Syria; won by Israel
o Yom Kippur War war in 1973 between Egypt and Israel over the Sinai Peninsula
and Golan Heights, which had been conquered by Israel in 1967; won by Israel
The Oil Crisis:
Arab states, viewing western support of Israel as a conspiracy against Egypt’s legitimate
reconquest of territories Israel had seized, retaliated through an oil embargo that lasted until
March 1974
o Oil embargo (1773-1974) refusal by Arab petroleum-exporting countries to ship
petroleum to countries that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War
The immediate effect was soaring oil prices, which generated a rise in the price of virtually all
In addition, most European states were unable to provide sufficient energy resources for their
economies some went so far as to ration the use of oil and other energy sources
In the United States, the government introduced unprecedented supply and price regulations
Economic processes were becoming increasingly globalized, so it was no longer possible for
the West to be economically self-sufficient
o Globalized increasing global connections among national and international
economic and cultural forces, starting in the 1970s
Western Europeans, with only meager internal oil resources, resolved to deal with the crisis
by looking into alternative energy resources, from hydroelectric to wind and nuclear
The energy crisis introduced greater cooperation among members of the Common Market in
finding alternative fuels and markers that would buffer them from fluctuations in the global
During the oil crisis, the Common Market provided important benefits to its members, such as
access to nuclear power and coal, but its success was also measured by its general
prosperity and growth, as Brandt had been able to reconcile the French to the idea of
allowing Great Britain to join in the very year of the oil embargo
Member countries continued to negotiate and move forward toward a European Monetary
Union unification in 1990-1999 of the fiscal policies of European community members, with
the goal of creating a single currency
But in 1979, a second oil crisis brought about by the 1977 Iranian Revolution, together with a
spike in the value of the dollar, made European currencies more vulnerable on the
international markets
o Iranian Revolution nationalist uprising in 1977 that ousted the Iranian monarchy
and destabilized the global oil supply
As European economies slowed down, further discussions of the monetary union ended
The End of Détente:
Overall, by 1979, the era of détente was ending
There were some important changes the stabilization of European borders and recognition
of human rights as an important component of international politics, yet trust did not catch
hold, and ideologies on both sides of the cold war skillfully exploited the fears of average
voters about loss of stability
In addition, the Soviets changed their international stance significantly on Christmas Eve
1979, they invaded Afghanistan; the reason for this intervention seems to have been the fear
of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism from Afghanistan into Soviet-controlled Central
Asian territories
But the United States read the Afghanistan invasion as a challenge to the balance of power in
the Persian Gulf, a region to which it has become vulnerable since the 1973 oil embargo
the Americans reacted swiftly and sent military help to the Islamic Afghan rebels who
opposed the Soviets
o Afghanistan invasion military invasion by Soviet Union in 1979 to prevent the
spread of Muslim fundamentalism to the Soviet Republics in Central Asia
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