In the midst of the Cold War’s conflict between democracy and communism, the 1960s was marred by the war in Vietnam. The changes of the 1960s shaped the politics of the 1970s. Richard M. Nixon was elected president in 1968.

Click on each image below to learn more about Nixon and his impact on the politics of modern America.

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Image of Nixon toasting a drink with Chinese premier Zhou Enlai

In 1972, Nixon made his first historic visit to China, a leading communist country. He met with the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai; the meeting led to decreased tensions and a trade partnership between China and the United States.Close Pop Up
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Image of Nixon and Brezhnev seated and one man is leaning down behind them.

In 1972, Nixon met with communist leader Leonid Brezhnev of the U.S.S.R. Nixon worked toward resolving some of the issues between the United States and the U.S.S.R. After a series of meetings, Nixon and Brezhnev signed a treaty limiting the amount of nuclear weapons in both countries. Close Pop Up

Nixon’s visits with China and the U.S.S.R. demonstrated an ease in tensions during the Cold War. This policy of détente, a “thaw” or relaxation in tension among the United States, China, and the U.S.S.R., led to a period of permanent relaxation in tensions caused by the Cold War.

Click on the link below to read an article about détente from the U.S. Department of State.

Milestones: 1969-1976

Interactive exercise. Assistance may be required. Using what you have learned from the article, complete the following activity. Determine if each event decreased or increased tensions.

While the policy of détente lasted until well after Nixon’s initial implementation, Nixon can be credited with creating a pathway for peace between the two sides of the Cold War.