Posted on December 20, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
ikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union before the communist system dissolved and it became Russia. Now 83 years old, the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner will be most remembered for his major reform efforts of “Perestroika” and “Glasnost”. He is widely viewed as the person whose actions were most influential to developments that resulted in the end of the Cold War. Perestroika was Gorbachev’s attempt to reform the political and economic conditions in the former Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991, at which point the Soviet Union in essence ceased to exist.
Reform was far-ranging, and came to influence Soviet society by allowing foreign investment in joint ventures with the government, more political freedom – including free speech in the media and democratic measures to allow citizens to vote for leaders, increased foreign trade, and many other real changes. Other changes during Gorbachev’s time included a loosening of Soviet hegemony over its Eastern European states, of which many quickly declared independence, an increased role for women in the political system, and an overall lessening of central government control.
Since leaving political life he has continued in speaking his mind about current events, being at times a critic of both Vladimir Putin for diminishing the potency of Russian democracy, and the United States for its foreign policy actions – in particular military actions not approved by the United Nations Security Council as occurred in the 2003 Iraq War.
In the following, he answers questions from Sophie Shevardnadze, coincidentally the granddaughter of Gorbachev’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Shevardnadze, who held that second most powerful post until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Gorbachev suggests that the United States develop it own form of Perestroika. He told her that the U.S. is too dependent on war profits, the military-industrial-complex (MIC), and should have taken the warning of President Dwight Eisenhower delivered in his farewell address about the rising power of the MIC.
On Eisenhower he said, “President Eisenhower was a warrior and a very serious man… He is the man whose judgment you can trust”.
In the view of Mr. Gorbachev, the United States grew bold and arrogant after the end of the Cold War in 1991 in its attempt to build a unipolar world. He calls such an effort to build a one polar world “utter nonsense”, and believes only civil societies can prevent or stop governments from escalating crises – to “keep the hawks at bay”. At this point he said once more, “the United States needs its own Perestroika”.
Gorbachev sees the reason for the United States using drones, bombs and airstrikes as the recent development of strong opposition by Americans to any “boots on the ground”, and in response to Ms. Shevardnadze he said “I don’t think they (the U.S.) have anyone to protect against”. He believes the military actions of America “should be stopped in a friendly manner”, and that the “U.S. can benefit the whole world, but only if it acts in partnership with the other nations”.
“The only kind of leadership that is possible today is leadership with partners”.
He sees the steep decline in global oil prices as a collaborative effort by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to put pressure on Russia, and noted “we can say that Cold War has started, or resumed”.
(Video source: RT)