The Carter Years: Toward a New Global Order

Although Jimmy Carter came to office fully prepared and willing to carry forward the new global order initiated by Henry Kissinger in 1973, his administration immediately encountered a Soviet Union which had embarked on a multi-pronged geopolitical offensive, backed by a major advance in strategic weaponry, and which threatened to undermine America's global position. Recognition of the Soviet offensive forced a reconsideration of American strategy, splitting the new administration.Secretary of State Cyrus Vance insisted that the strategy of a new global order, requiring a detente between the two nations, was still a viable option. However, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that a return to some form of modified containment of the Soviet Union was necessary. President Carter, caught between these diametrically opposed positions, went neither one way nor the other - a wavering attitude that came to characterize the foreign policy of his presidency.