Why did Gorbachev choose the United Nations as his forum for this speech?

A pivotal role played by Mikhail Gorbachev in the end of the Cold War

A pivotal role was performed by Mikhail Gorbachev in the end of the Cold War. He discussed a significant reduction in Soviet military expenditures in Eastern Europe in his address to the United Nations on December 7, 1988. Soviet commander had a tactical justification for picking the United Nations in New York as the venue for his narration. He began by stating that Soviet had come to Washington to honor the UN as a special global hub for peace. (Gorbachev, 1988). Gorbachev saw that the United States had an economic and political advantage beyond the Soviets capabilities, and that Soviet Union was already crumbling economically. To save the Union and improve transparency, Gorbachev needed a larger budgetary allocation and massive funding that could only be provided by the United Nations. By having his message heard at UN, he was asking for the accommodation of Soviet Union into Western world affairs, and for the start of a friendly relationship between Washington and Moscow.

What did Gorbachev mean by "de-ideologizing relations among states? What implications did this have for superpower relations?

The 1988 speech by Gorbachev centered on the idea of a new world order characterized by cooperation from all nations. He had foreseen that Soviet Union would fall if the economic and political environment did not change towards an integrated relationship with the US. He called all states to de-ideologize relations, which meant restructuring past principals that failed to unite mankind. Arguably, he was denying ideas that resulted in the cold war, such as the use of force during expansion of national ideologies. By de-ideologizing, he was asking the world to find alternative methods of achieving economic and military might without interfering with national interests of other nations. Conversely, he used the term to suggest that Moscow was ready for a new foreign relation with the US.

Why did he say that "force no longer can...be an instrument of foreign policy"? What implications did this have for the Soviet bloc?

By asserting that the use of or threat to use of force can no longer be an instrument of foreign policy, Gorbachev clearly demonstrated the willingness of Soviet to adhere to international jurisprudence and stop soviet expansion in foreign territories. He was particularly buying the western principles of national self-determination and advocating for an era where progress is to be based on interests of all mankind. This notion had critical implications to the soviet bloc. In his initial months as Soviet leader, Gorbachev enforced a unilateral freeze on deployment of intermediate range missiles in Europe, citing the need for perestroika, an economic reform (Nedzarek, 2012). The statement implied that the Soviet Union would cut troops and inject more money into civilian economy. The economy that was suffering from labor shortage would experience 500,000 men. Additionally, the proclamation implied that states in the union would be free to pursue national interests without pressure from Moscow, and people would be free to align with ideas that best serve their interests.

What did he foresee as the future role of the superpowers in the world and the future relationship between them?

On the issue of disarmament, Gorbachev noted that USSR and US had created the biggest nuclear missile arsenals. While the superpowers had the most refined military resources, it is they who laid the foundation of a system of mutual verification and banning of armaments production. Given that two powers possessed the best experience for multilateral agreements, he saw their future role to that of promoting dialogue of realism, openness and international cooperation. Their experience during the cold war confrontations makes them ideal to take a central role in enforcement of international law and overseeing disarmament procedures. The two superpowers had hostile relationships since the end of the second war, but Gorbachev urged that in the future, they can learn to co-exist.


Gorbachev, Mikhail. (1988). "Gorbachev's speech to the U.N". CNN. retrieved from https://astro.temple.edu/~rimmerma/gorbachev_speech_to_UN.htm

Nedzarek, R. (2012). A Critical Evaluation of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Role in Ending the Cold War. E-International Relations.

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