How did the shifts in relations between the superpowers in the 1970s and the 1980s affect Europe?.
Since the explosion of the first Soviet nuclear bomb in 1949 and the Hydrogen bomb in 1953, both the East and West had been tied in an arms race attempting to secure a military advantage over the other. This bought the fear that another world war, again with Europe its main arena, a distinct possibility. The events of the Cuban missile crisis bought home to the two sides that an arms race was not a solution, and that they need to come to some agreements that would attempt to avert the chance of a heating up of the situation. The results of this was that the 1970s came to be known as a period of détente, signifying a period of the reduction of tension amongst the East and West and a subsequent reduction in the possibility of another war breaking out. The search for peace also bought several agreements on arms limitation, and some much needed stability to the post war boundaries of Europe with the settling of the Oder-Neisse line and West Germany recognising the East German state. This period lasted up until 1979 when the Soviets deployed their new SS20missiles in East Germany forcing an acceleration in the arms race and the spread of nuclear weapons across the East West frontier, and again increased the likelihood of another war in Europe.
In 1961, Raymond Aron had written that the US and the Soviets were frĕres enemis, friends as well as enemies. What Raymond Aron's paradox implies that even though they were in opposition, the nuclear forces they both maintained had the potential to ensure mutual destruction, and the best way to ensure mutual survival would be to be able to reach some agreements.
This paradox was bought home to both superpowers in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The Soviets were found to have built a nuclear missile base in Cuba, just under the belly of America.