Although he will celebrate his 81st birthday in less than two months, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev still is an astute observer of the world’s political scene.
Unlike his political contemporaries Ronald Reagan (who is dead) and Margaret Thatcher (who is acutely ill), Gorbachev remains sharp and aware, and keeps making headlines. Ever since the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-08, Gorbachev has advocated that the United States needs a similar period of reforms, or “perestroika,” that he advanced in the Soviet Union beginning in 1986.
In the current issue of The Nation magazine, Gorbachev writes an essay in which he posits that the world is less safe today, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, than it was 21 years ago. He blames the situation mostly on an aggressive, unrealistic U.S. foreign policy that he believes should be reformulated so it is based on the recognition of the world’s interconnectedness and interdependence.
The essay’s most interesting portion, however, is Gorbachev’s assessment of the United States’ hyper-militarized approach to problem-solving and its “might makes right” strategy, which he asserts backfires in dealing with nations like Iran.
“Policy-making and political thinking are still militarized. This is particularly true in the United States, which has not renounced the methods of pressure and intimidation,” Gorbachev wrote. “Every time it uses armed force against non–nuclear weapon states, countries such as Iran become more determined to acquire nuclear weapons.
“During the first decade of the twenty-first century US military budgets accounted for nearly half the world’s spending on armed forces,” he added. “Such overwhelming military superiority of one country will make the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons impossible to achieve. Judging by the weapons programs of the United States and a number of other countries, they are setting their sights on a new arms race.”
Of course, Gorbachev's views aren't likely to sit well with the many highly lucrative U.S. firms that profit from the militarized approach like General Electric, Boeing, Halliburton and scores of others.