What Were Some of the Reasons for the Failure of Detente?

Some of the reasons for the failure of detente were its being perceived as accommodation, the continuing challenge to United States hegemony and the threat of an increasingly hostile and diverse international third world community. Detente also placed a greater focus on normalizing U.S. and Soviet relations rather than replacing them with something better. The U.S. dropped its policy of detente when Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan and tensions between the two major powers returned to the previous Cold War levels.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. U.S. President Jimmy Carter also began providing financial support to General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the president of Pakistan, as a means of funneling aid to the Mujahideen regional fighters who were resisting the Soviet invasion. The new U.S. president-elect, Ronald Reagan, won the White House in the 1980 election on a platform that promised no further detente-styled concessions to the Soviets.