The conference, organized by the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies and co-sponsored by the Cold War International History Project, the Miller Center of Public Policy, and the PHP brought together historians from the US, Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Russian and Chinese historians, to discuss the newly emerging archival evidence, to interpret in light of newly available information the events of that time, and to discuss their research with their pears as well as to share newly declassified archival evidence on NATO and the Warsaw Pact and discuss the policies which led to the rise of detente during the Johnson and Nixon Administrations.

In the last two decades historical research on the passage from the origins of the Cold war to its stabilisation in the 1950s and on the crises of the late 1950s and early 1960s has produced a remarkable output of scholarly studies, which have benefited from a growing variety of archival sources. For the mid and late 1960s, the archival evidence available to researchers is not quite as extensive. While the figures of Johnson, Nixon and Kissinger and the policies of their administrations have been the object of much research, we think it necessary to integrate the increasing number of studies of their foreign policy into the larger picture of a true history of the evolution of the international system. By focussing on the two superpowers and on their gradual move from confrontation to détente, in particular, historical research has somewhat neglected the tensions and anxieties that accompanied the rise of détente inside the two camps, and their impact on the behaviour of the leaders of each bloc. What is missing is a reconstruction based on fresh archival sources of the mistrust, fear and uncertainty that the process engineered in the relationship between the US and its Western European partners, of the suspicions with which many Europeans watched the developing dialogue in the field of arms control, and of the puzzlement generated by the growing predicament of the US in the jungles of Vietnam. At the same time, very little is known about the perceptions of détente in the countries of the Eastern bloc, about the aftermath of the repression of the Prague spring, or about the impact on the Warsaw pact of the Sino-Soviet clashes.