Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1988 UN Speech

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According to many historians and political analysts, the Cold War is one of the major upheavals that redefined the relevance of realism as an ideology for analyzing international relations. In his speech of 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev explained why a new order was needed in the world. This paper describes several issues that revolve around Gorbachev’s historic speech.

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Mikhail Gorbachev decided to select the United Nations (UN) as the most appropriate forum for his speech. According to him, this international organization was keen to foster global cooperation and promote tranquility (“Gorbachev’s speech,” n.d.). With the world facing the dangers of the Cold War and being exposed to an unpredictable future, Gorbachev believed that the agency would be the best platform for delivering his message of hope.

Additionally, the fact that the Soviet Union was a critical player in this unrest would make it easier for different leaders and nations to agree with him. With the Soviet Union leading the way, the world would be in a position to focus on a new future and address every emerging challenge.

The speaker uses the term “de-ideologizing relations among states” to pass across his message. This means that nations should abandon their ideologies that appear to dictate global relations. Gorbachev appears to indicate that countries can support each other, pursue common goals, and promote development without necessarily having to renounce their values. This proposal can be used by nations to cooperate, address most of the predicaments facing the world, deal with poverty, and establish friendships that promote development (“Gorbachev’s speech,” n.d.). This kind of argument had significant implications for superpower relations.

For instance, the speech informed or catalyzed new arrangements that led to the end of the Cold War within 10 years. The two countries involved in this conflict managed to minimize their nuclear warheads. The idea of militarism was also abandoned in an attempt to promote global harmony.

In the speech, Gorbachev is keen to acknowledge that force is no longer the right instrument for pursuing a foreign policy. It was evident that the history of the world had revealed that malpractice only led to numerous problems, pains, upheavals, and revolutions. The example of the Cold War can also be identified as a potential outcome of force as a tool for pursuing a foreign policy. This message appeared to redefine the position of the Soviet bloc in the world.

This was the case because the Communist government was planning to promote global peace and deal with conflicts. The Soviet Union implemented several initiatives to reduce its military strength (Brower & Sanders, 2014). This practice was a clear indication that the Soviet Union was ready to make the world a better place for every individual.

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From Gorbachev’s speech, it is quite clear that he prophesied a new world whereby superpowers promoted human welfare by avoiding any form of conflict. The approach was capable of minimizing upheavals and creating the best environment for addressing various global problems. He also predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would collaborate to deal with challenges such as chronic diseases, terrorism, humanitarian crises, climate change, and poverty (“Gorbachev’s speech,” n.d.). With this kind of focus, it would be possible for these two nations to relate positively and make the world safe again.


Brower, D., & Sanders, T. (2014). The world in the twentieth century: From empires to nations (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Gorbachev’s speech to the U.N. (n.d.). Web.

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