Why Was Mikhail Gorbachev Important?

TL025041It’s important for people to realize why Mikhail Gorbachev was important. He came at a time when the USSR and the US were in the midst of a Cold War. Had it not been for his policies, thawing of the countries’ relations may not have taken place.

Glasnost and Perestroika

Perhaps two of his most well known reforms were glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost enabled the people to express themselves openly. It was a radical step that no other Soviet leader had taken. It was the first step towards democratizing the country.

The second reform was perestroika. It consisted of a series of economic reforms and policy changes. The sweeping reforms were aimed mainly at decentralizing planning. This was one reason why Mikhail Gorbachev was important.

Another one of the measures passed under his watch was the Law of Cooperatives. This happened in May 1988. It allowed for the ownership of businesses by private individuals. This allowed greater freedom than ever before. In due time, this led to more foreign investments to come into the country.

Meeting with Western Leaders

His efforts were met with mixed receptions in the USSR. His foreign policies were widely accepted and hailed by Western leaders however. Before his tenure, tensions had been running high between the West and the Soviet Union.

Among the first steps the Soviet leader took was to remove the tension between the West and the USSR. Gorbachev met with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan and sought better relations.

Easing Nuclear Tension

Another reason why Mikhail Gorbachev was important was his role in reducing the threat of nuclear war. Since the Cuban Missile Crisis, the two countries had been at the brink of conflict. In 1985, the Soviet leader announced that the delivery of nuclear weapons in various European countries would be stopped.

He also declared that the United States and the Soviet Union should reduce their nuclear arsenal in half. In November of that year, the Soviet leader met with US President Reagan in Switzerland.

The following year, the Soviet leader took further steps to easing nuclear tension. He called for the destruction of all medium range nuclear weapons throughout the European continent. He also issued orders for withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

The Brezhnev Doctrine

The spread of democracy in Eastern Europe is another reason why Mikhail Gorbachev was important in world affairs. This was best demonstrated when he announced the USSR would discontinue the Brezhnev Doctrine. This meant the countries in Eastern Europe were allowed to handle their internal affairs without Soviet interference.

Collapse of the USSR

The radical policy shifts however, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Glasnost allowed anti Russian sentiment to be aired. A food shortage and economic crisis took place in the late 1980s. The collapse of the Republic in the late 1990s has been viewed by some as the result of his policies.

Whatever disagreements there may be, his influence cannot be questioned. There are many reasons why Mikhail Gorbachev was important as the facts show. There is no questioning his place in history.

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