The Nation: Taking Semantic Cover

The Administration policy of detente with the Soviet Union is under increasing fire as the political season advances, so last week President Ford decided to provide a little semantic cover: he dropped the word. It was not Republican coinage anyway. The French noun crept into common usage among Western European diplomats in the '60s to describe a relaxation in tension between East and West. Henry Kissinger deliberately avoided using the word for several years because he felt it smacked of sentimentality (the literal French meaning of detente is relaxation or easing) and was also associated with West German Prime Minister Willy...

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