Credited with peacefully bringing about the end of the Cold War, former Soviet President Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev has died at age 91 after a long illness.
Trying to imagine an alternative history of humanity without Mikhail Gorbachev is almost scary.
That’s because without Gorbachev, the Cold War would very likely have escalated into more dangerous heights, as advancing technology continued to modernize the nuclear capabilities of the USSR and USA.
As the Soviet Union’s catastrophic attempt to centrally-plan human economics worsened ever more as the decades passed, one shudders to think how a collapsing empire would have handled the nuclear stand-off that persisted for so many years. Perhaps that’s why Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
He served as the final President of the Soviet Union, having instituted democratic reforms and a new election for president, before resigning during the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
A 2017 survey carried out by the independent institute Levada Center found that 46% of Russian citizens have a negative opinion towards Gorbachev, while 30% are indifferent, and only 15% have a positive opinion—but most Westerners see him as one of the greatest statesman of the second half of the 20th century, regardless of what flag they are standing behind.
He had the truly indomitable courage to accept the fact that after 40 years of attempts, and countless lives spent in the process, the Soviet experiment had failed its people.
He initiated “glasnost” and “perestroika” in the USSR—which demanded more openness in government—a new way of democratic thinking, and restructuring of his society.
With the courage of a great statesman, he faced down the paranoia and entrenched military and global arms manufacturing interests as he tried to rid the world of the terror of nuclear weapons by negotiating—and signing—an arms treaty with US President Reagan.
When he was challenged by his former foe to ‘Tear down that wall,’ he did it, which led to the reunification of Germany and freedom for citizens to travel.
After retiring from politics, “Gorby”, as he was affectionately known, founded Green Cross International, which works like a Red Cross for the environment.