The Nuclear Arms Race Leads to Détente

Nuclear Arms Race Leads to Détente QuoteThe Texas experience of the Cold War assumed a more central role with the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The Texas White House in the Hill Country served as host for national and international meetings and press conferences.  Presidents from West Germany and Pakistan journeyed to Texas to discuss anti-communist measures, and LBJ’s domestic policies reflected Cold War priorities with an emphasis on higher education, science, and technology.  The “space race” between the U.S. and Soviets grew concomitant with the city of Houston as home to the federal space program.  Moreover, when President Lyndon B. Johnson reluctantly sent troops to Vietnam to resist a communist invasion, thousands of Texans served in the military while others protested the same war in the streets of Austin and across the state.

The U.S. and Soviet Union continued to build their nuclear arsenals in rivalry with one another, advancing their technology until their missile stockpiles were nearly equal.  In the midst of this stalemate, along with economic crises in Eastern bloc countries and a divided Third World, the Soviet Union and United States pursued détente with the primary goal of limiting the further production and spread of nuclear weapons. Détente led to the Helsinki Accords, SALT I, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; events that broadcasters on both national and local levels documented to a concerned citizenry, galvanized by increasingly graphic footage of televised warfare. Though this period of cooperation deteriorated in the late 1970s, détente achieved its goal of stability, if not those of justice and human rights.

Continue to New Movements and New Fronts