Some observers believed that the United States, its resolve weakened by the resistance to its involvement in Vietnam that had arisen in previous years both at home and abroad, had abandoned the peoples of Eastern Europe. Yet the concessions granted by the Soviets in Basket III proved to have more significance than was thought at the time. They would become a rallying point for Eastern European reformers, who demanded that the USSR and other satellite governments adhere to these human rights provisions, which were so contrary to their practices.
In 1975 the work of the CSCE was not considered a major achievement. Rather, it was thought to symbolize the manner in which the two armed blocs had gradually eased into an acceptance of the status quo. Like the arms talks, it signified not an end to the Cold War but informal recognition of certain ground rules and limitations. These did not preclude the possibility of eventual victory for either side but did mean to ensure avoidance of nuclear battle. The Helsinki accords, then, epitomized and codified a static European order. Within that order, the European nations might make their own small adjustments, but none was expected to act so independently as to upset the European equilibrium.
As for the expression of views in Europe, the notion in the East was well quashed by the Brezhnev Doctrine, though carefully calibrated statements of autonomy did occasionally drift forth from Albania, Yugoslavia, and Romania. In the West, the Council of Europe, the European Council, EFTA, and the European Economic Community all became vehicles for the expression of European political and economic aspirations. But the two opposing military alliances continued their standoff. The division of Germany remained as a symbol both of the Cold War and of the acceptance as permanent of conditions that initially had been seen as uncomfortable and temporary.
Arbatov, G. A., and W. Oltmann, The Soviet Viewpoint ( 1981).
Deibel, T. L., and J. L. Gaddis (eds.), Containment: Concept and Policy ( 1986).
Doltrop, A., Politics and the European Community, 2d ed. ( 1986).
Gaddis, J. L., Strategies of Containment ( 1982).