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No. 4076: What Détente Actually Means

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What Détente Actually Means

First | Previous | 2020-07-16 | Next | Latest

Permanent URL: https://mezzacotta.net/garfield/?comic=4076

Strip by: MadDogBV

Jon {showing off his squirting flower}: This is one of those squirting flowers
Garfield {showing off his clawing paw}: This is one of those clawing paws
Jon: Since we're both heavily armed, let's agree to strategic arms treaties
Garfield: Can you say détente?

The author writes:

Inspired by a forum discussion. Also included the accent above the "e" in détente, since that seems to be the correct spelling according to my auto-correct software.

To explain for those who might not be familiar – détente is widely historically regarded as a period of thawing of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, engaged by both leaders President Richard Nixon (and later, Jimmy Carter) and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. Its apogee occurred during the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) I and SALT II treaties, wherein both countries agreed to a reduction in nuclear warhead capabilities and quantities. The Soviet war in Afghanistan, sadly, brought an end to those treaties and thus to détente, at least until Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to further treaties towards the end of the 1980s.

Détente did not originate with the Cold War; it was also used to describe attempts at diplomatic thawing in 1912 between Germany and France, and was also recently used in an attempt at improvement in diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea, with President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meeting in Singapore (in both cases, they ultimately failed, but this is immaterial to the main point). What Jon and Garfield are doing in the original comic seems to be a demonstration of mutually-assured destruction, or rather deterrence, rather than détente. There’s no indication in the original comic that any diplomatic thawing occurred. This submission aims to mend this omission, while also providing a rather trivial history lesson.

And yes, I over-explained myself, because I think it’s better to over-explain to the point of banality, rather than under-explain an inside joke and have nobody in the world get it.

Original strip: 2003-04-12.