Why Mikhail Gorbachev is worrying about US-Russia nuclear war via Christian Science Monitor

JANUARY 28, 2017 The threat of nuclear war is a familiar one to Mikhail Gorbachev. And in today’s world, he sees many of the same challenges that confronted the US and the Soviet Union during the cold war.

In an opinion piece for Time on Thursday, the last Soviet premier described the “new arms race” as the most urgent problem facing the world today. He writes that the “world is preparing for war,” and as in the past, Europe is becoming increasingly militarized, while politicians and pundits employ divisive rhetoric that only heightens tensions. Mr. Gorbachev also lamented another parallel: while military spending rises seemingly without limit, countries are cutting essential social services that many citizens rely on.

But if the problem is the same as during the cold war, Gorbachev suggested history may also provide the solution: dialogue between the two countries. Improving relations between the US and Russia might not only defuse a complex and high-stakes political situation, but also make it easier to address other global challenges.


Gorbachev’s favored approach – a bilateral dialogue across a range of issues – may not come to fruition. But calming the bellicose rhetoric of politicians on both sides might be a first step toward countering fear and improving relations.

“I cannot hope for [a] real ‘reset'” now,”  Ivan Kurilla, a professor at the European University at St. Petersburg who focuses on Russian-American relations, told the Monitor in October. “But I do hope that the dangerous ‘Cold War style’ rhetoric will give place to realistic exchanges.”

“One of the main freedoms is freedom from fear,” Gorbachev wrote, quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Ridding the world of this fear means making people freer.… Many other problems would then be easier to resolve.”


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