Mikhail Gorbachev stands out as being among the most prominent figures believed to have significantly contributed in bringing an end to the cold war (Nedzarek n.p.). Some place him as one of the most controversial characters who contributed towards the end of the cold war. His reformist agenda stood out, receiving equal shares of praises and disapproval from various parties, both within the USSR and internationally. Notably, the USSR was likely to lose if it maintained its hardline stance during the happening Cold War, especially, with communism beginning to lose its appeal. In understanding the role that Mikhail Gorbachev played during the development and outcome of the cold war, it would be imperative to look at the dual program that he introduced within the Soviet state, these being perestroika and glasnost.
The Perestroika, also known as restructuring, played a crucial role in introducing fundamental changes within the leadership of Gorbachev. The structural factors of the USSR were considered as enormously rigid with a highly hierarchical system with the general secretary of the CPSU wielding enormous political power (Encyclopedia.com n.p.). Conversely, it was because of this structure that Mikhail Gorbachev was able to make advancements of his reformist ideas. Once in power, he was able to enjoy virtual immunity, especially against any political contests arising within the CPSU. In managing the stalemate that was being witnessed with the international community, Gorbachev embarked on sweeping changes within the foreign ministry replacing revered communism hardliners with individuals who he considered of like-minded to his agenda (Legvold 74). This move brought in some sense of calm in the USSR’s relationship with the international community. Additionally, this move cemented his advocacy of a new political thinking among world leaders and policymakers.
Glasnost, also known as openness, contributed to the outcome that was witnessed with the Cold War. It is important to note that another crucial step by Mikhail Gorbachev considered as one of the contributing factors in deciding the outcome of the cold war was his decision to finally disentangle from the Brezhnev Doctrine (Nedzarek n.p.). This doctrine was based on the precept that a communist state could not abandon the fundamental systematic elements characterized by communism. Of importance to note is his responsibility to leadership that Gorbachev was cognizant, especially, in relating to the Western World. Unlike the previous Soviet leaders that had preceded him, Gorbachev was quick to learn from the happenings that took place from his diplomatic interactions (Nedzarek n.p.). One of the realizations was the fact that the USSR could not match up to the military and economic power of the West.
Notably, it would also be prudent to recognize the power of the political institutions, especially, concerning the outcome of the cold war. The political institution which was present within the USSR contributed significantly in helping Gorbachev make the decisions which he did in relation to the role he played during the cold war (Encyclopedia.com n.p.). For one, as earlier aforementioned, as the general secretary of the CPSU, he enjoyed considerable immunity plus immense political power. In hindsight though, the same political institutions could be seen as somehow being a burden mainly if the wrong people occupy the helm positions. The end of the cold war was finally realized with the fall of the Soviet Union having been aided by the revolutionary program that swept through communist governments instigated by Gorbachev within five years of taking over at the helm of the CPSU (Legvold 78).
In conclusion, it is important to note that Mikhail Gorbachev as the leader of the Soviet Union played a significant role during the cold war. This phenomenon is primarily so particularly considering the outcome of the Cold War. Gorbachev embarked on a dual program that he introduced within the Soviet state, these being “perestroika” and “glasnost” sweeping through the communist governments within Eastern Europe. It is as a result of these happenings that an end to the Cold War was realized with the collapse of the Soviet Union.