Standard explanations for the demise of U.S.-Soviet détente during the 1970s emphasize the Soviet Union's inability to put aside its communist ideology for the sake of a more cooperative relationship with the United States. Soviet resistance to reaching a stable accommodation during this period, many analysts maintain, was especially evident in the Middle East, where Moscow is said to have embraced the “radical Arab program” vis-à-vis Israel. Such accounts do not fare well, however, in light of the historical evidence. Instead, that evidence indicates that the Soviet Union was eager to cooperate with the United States to achieve an Arab-Israeli agreement. The Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations, however, were not interested in working with the Soviets in the Middle East, and instead sought to expel them from the region. These findings have important implications for scholarly debates about whether great power rivals can cooperate on issues where their strategic interests are overlapping, as well as for contemporary debates over U.S. policy toward countries such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

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