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The detente in relations with Germany which started in 1934 was a great achievement of Poland's foreign policy. In a situation when Paris and London adopted a conciliatory attitude toward Berlin, concern for a favorable atmosphere in Warsaw-Berlin relations appeared to be from the Polish perspective a raison d'état. Also a temporary cooperation with the Reich (e.g. when both countries opposed the Eastern Pact project) could be in the interest of Poland. However, during the Sudeten crisis of 1938 this cooperation took a dangerous turn for Poland and there was a threat of her being isolated by Western powers, a risk that had been overlooked by the Polish authorities. At the time of friendlier relations with Poland, Germany formulated offers of a closer cooperation and alliance aimed against the Soviet Union. Those propositions included also a weakening of Poland's alliance with France and were accompanied by demands for consent to incorporate Gdansk into Germany and to create an exterritorial road connection across Polish Pomerania. At this point there could be no doubt that the German offer would lead to a degradation of Poland to the status of a satellite state. In this situation, Poland's refusal and efforts to improve the strained ties with Western powers (which resulted in the establishment of an alliance with Britain and a revitalization of that with France) had all the characteristics of a rational decision.
In the 1970s, the United States and the Soviet Union launched a new course in their contacts called 'détente'. One of the main reasons for this remarkable turnabout was a radical change of views of the two countries' leaders. President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev openly expressed their readiness and willingness to overcome ideological barriers to build and keep permanent peace. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the two leaders' views by analyzing two speeches, one made by Nixon during his visit to the Soviet Union in 1972 and the other made by Brezhnev during his stay in the United States in 1973. Examination of their rhetorical strategies - such as choice of words, arguments, and emphasis - reveals how Nixon and Brezhnev understood peace and how they aimed to achieve it. Confronting the two leaders' goals with the actual outcomes of their actions, and taking the significance of political changes as a yardstick of fulfilled declarations, it can be demonstrated whether Nixon and Brezhnev truly desired to achieve enduring peace or whether they used peace rhetoric as a tool to weaken each other's vigilance and take the lead in the Cold War race.
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