Gorbachev is absolutely right. His place in history is unprecedented. He is the rare leader who could step back and assess the juncture in history before him. He saw a system in dire need of reform and took the difficult steps to begin it. It is remarkable that he gave advice to the East German leadership but told them that the way forward was their choice and, shunning the entire history of Soviet/East Europe, refused to send Soviet troops in to shore up leaders who refused to change with the times and the demands of their citizens.
Unfortunately, as the cold war ended, Clinton coasted and Bush took us backwards in the building of a "new world order." Obama, therefore, has a chance to lead as the first real post-cold war president. He has the historical scope of Gorbachev and has begun an initial turnaround in Bush's crypto-cold war policies. Whether he can match Gorbachev's contributions in normalizing foreign policy and promoting world stability remains to be seen.
Nov 11 2009 - 12:05am