Former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He replaced Konstantin Chernevoka in 1985. He was the last leader of the Soviet Union, having served from 1985 until 1991 when the party was dissolved.
There are different schools of thought for what ended the cold war, some argue that it was due to Gorbachev, others say it was Reagan’s unwillingness to conform. Gorbachev wanted to continue detente as he understood how important it was to improve relations. He feared that if situations worsened there would be a full blown nuclear war, and Europe would suffer. Gorbachev wanted to introduce two policies, Glasnost and Perestroika.
Glasnost means openness, he believed this could be achieved through less censorship and allowing more freedom. He wanted to achieve this by allowing the media to report whatever they wanted, stopping gerontocracy, and ending the monopoly on power. He was a new generation of communists that believed on reform he understood that a hard line approach such as Stalin’s was not the way to spread communism, and that the country needed heavy reform. Therefore by removing the old conservative members he was not only eliminating the opposition to change but replacing them with members who shared the same view.
Perestroika was another method which he employed. The cold war had caused the soviet economy to fail, as most of their money was put into defence. In addition to this their equipment was out-dated, this caused problems such as unemployment and a low living standard. Perestroika was introduced in April 1985 to restructure the economic system. He believed this could be achieved by allowing more freedom to people involved in the management of the industry and add more measures that seemed capitalist.
Gorbachev once said ‘what we need is star peace and not star wars’ although he was not successful in getting America to stop SDI, he made a lot of proposals which helped to end the cold war.