Linkage was a policy pursued by the United States of America, championed by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, during the 1970s period of Cold War Détente which aimed to persuade the Soviet Union and Communist China to co-operate in restraining revolutions in the Third World in return for concessions in nuclear and economic fields. However, despite this lack of Soviet intervention, a large number of revolutions still occurred in these third world countries, thereby undermining this policy. The premise behind linkage, as a policy, was to connect political and military issues, thereby establishing a relationship making progress in area "A" dependent on progress in area "B."
An important aspect of this policy was that deviations from respecting the rights and interests would go punished. The intent of such action is to bring home to the offending state the limitations of acceptable international behavior and demonstrate that attempts at expansion (and upsetting international stability) would go punished. In this way, conflict itself would contribute to stabilizing the international order.
The Nixon-Kissinger approach did not link foreign and domestic arenas.
Selective relaxation of tensions is an opposing policy to linkage. Then, an issue of arms control could be addressed and tension diminished while maintaining the status quo in other strategic areas.
Further reading 
- Diplomacy (Kissinger) (1994) ISBN 0-671-65991-X, pp 716-721
- Kissinger: A Biography by Walter Isaacson (1992) ISBN 0-671-66323-2
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