31.3 (Relations With the Soviet Union Cool (Carter responded by…
Relations With the Soviet Union Cool
December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded the neighboring country of Afghanistan to prop up a tottering communist government.
This policy direction helped reaffirm the position of the United States as a nation of freedom and justice. However, it undercut the goal of better relations with the Soviet Union.
Carter hoped to make his foreign policy into a tool to end acts of political repression such as torture, murder, and imprisonment without trial.
The SALT II treaty was bitterly debated in the United States Senate, where its opponents argued that it put the national security of the United States in jeopardy.
At first, Carter continued Nixon’s and Ford’s policies toward the Soviet Union. He worked to achieve détente. He continued efforts at arms control, meeting with Leonid Brezhnev in June 1979 and signing the SALT II treaty
Carter responded by withdrawing the SALT II treaty from Senate consideration and by imposing sanctions, or penalties, on the Soviets. The sanctions included a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow as well as a suspension of grain sales to the Soviet Union.
Carter Supports Human Rights in the Developing World
Without U.S. aid, General Somoza had to flee Nicaragua, and the Sandinistas came to power.
His brutal response to the rebellion helped convince Carter to withdraw U.S. support.
Carter broke with that approach and insisted that foreign policy toward the developing world should revolve around the expansion of human rights. Carter believed that U.S. relations with foreign countries should be determined by how a country treated its citizens
Trouble in Southeast Asia
Many refugees took to the seas in rickety, unseaworthy boats. These boat people represented the largest mass migration of humanity by sea in modern history.
Boat people- People who leave their country by boat.
Over a 20-year period, more than one million men, women, and children braved storms, pirates, and starvation in search of refuge abroad.
When the communist Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia began a genocidal slaughter of civilians, killing about 1.5 million people between 1975 and 1979, the United States did not intervene.
Many eventually found that refuge in the United States and Canada.
Under Ford, the United States sought to put the turmoil of the Vietnam War behind it.
Ford Continues Nixon’s Foreign Policies
Some thought that President Ford would try to compel the Soviet Union to allow more political freedoms, but Ford decided to put arms control ahead of human rights. At his direction, the United States continued disarmament talks with the Soviets. These talks led to an agreement known as SALT II, in which the two nations pledged to limit nuclear arms production.
SALT II (strategic arms limitation treaty) proposed agreement between the united states and soviet union to limit certain types of nuclear arms production; it was never ratified by the United States Senate
This document put the nations of Europe on record in favor of human rights, or the basic rights that every human being is entitled to have
Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev met in late 1974 and again the next year, when the two leaders endorsed the Helsinki Accords
Helsinki Accords- agreement made in 1975 among the United States, Canada, and European nations, including the Soviet Union, in which all nations agreed to support human rights.
Human rights- basic rights automatically held by every human being including religious freedom, education, and equality.
Relations with the Soviet Union remained central to U.S. foreign policy during the Ford and Carter administrations. Upon assuming the presidency, Gerald Ford made clear that his foreign policy would differ little from that of Richard Nixon’s. Ford retained Henry Kissinger as his Secretary of State and continued to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and China
Carter’s Policies Get Mixed Results in Latin America