Europe 1972: Detente
The crises of the early '60s brought the world to the edge of nuclear war, prompting the United States and the Soviet Union to make serious efforts to ease tensions and reduce their arsenals. Meanwhile, the world itself became less bipolar as fractures grew in US-French and, more seriously, Soviet-Chinese relations.
1 Jul 1966 French withdrawal from NATO▲
Unhappy with what he perceived as the “Special Relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom and their seeming domination of NATO policy, French President Charles de Gaulle withdrew his country from the alliance’s integrated military command effective 1 July 1966. All non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. However, France remained a member of the alliance and secretly signed accords with the US to coordinate a return to NATO’s command structure should the Warsaw Pact attack.
5–10 Jun 1967 Six Day War▲
In the spring of 1967, Egypt and Syria began a massive military buildup along their borders with Israel. Anticipating a full-scale attack on 5 June, Israel preemptively launched air and naval strikes on Egypt, Syria, and their ally Jordan, before moving in by land. By the time a ceasefire had been signed on 11 June, Israel had taken control of the Gaza Strip, West Bank of the Jordan River, Golan Heights, and Sinai peninsula.
20–21 Aug 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia▲
On 5 June 1968, newly appointed Czech Communist First Secretary Alexander Dubcek began a program of reforms at odds with the policies in place in the Soviet Union. Threatened by this, the Soviet Union led a massive invasion of Czechoslovakia, ending the reforms.
2 Mar–11 Sep 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict▲
On 2 March 1969, the People’s Liberation Army ambushed Soviet border guards on disputed Zhenbao Island, leading to a seven-month undeclared military conflict between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Although fighting around Zhenbao Island ended by late March, tensions remained high, with further clashes occurring on the western border—between Xinjiang and Kazakh SSR—in August. The war ended on 11 September when border negotiations were reopened between the two countries.
17 Nov 1969–26 May 1972 SALT I▲
At the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the United States and Soviet Union agreed to limit the number of ballistic missile launchers in use.