Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1988 UN Speech Essay

March 27, 2021 by Essay Writer

The reason Gorbachev chose the United Nation as the forum to deliver the speech had something to do with the target audience. The UN summit brought the world’s leaders together as well as other important personalities, institutions, and media. Gorbachev’s topic of the speech was based on international relations and the need to change from ideology based relations to a more democratic environment (Gorbachev, 1988). The message was meant for the leaders of both powerful and weak nations. By choosing the United Nations summit, Gorbachev knew his message would be spread across the world. At the same time, the United Nations acts as a unifying body that brings all nations together in order to discuss and find solutions to problems facing the world. Therefore, by using the platform Gorbachev was giving a solution to one of the major problems that have created conflicts in international relations.

The term “de-ideologizing relations among” depicted the major subject of the speech. This term refers to the international relations that are not based on ideologies. Over the years, the Soviet Union, the United States, and other major world powers have been using their preferred ideologies to influence the political and economic status of other countries. Based on differences in interests and social problems created by the ideological influences in foreign countries, Gorbachev asserts that ideological relations have created conflicts over the years. In that sense, he argues that it is wrong to try to change the course of people by imposing foreign ideologies on them. In a democratic environment, nations should be given the freedom to make their choices (Gorbachev, 1988). As a result, international relations should be based on mutual understanding rather than ideological influence. He explains that the world is changing and the major powers must embrace the idea of freedom and sovereignty of individual nations.

When he said, “force no longer can be an instrument of foreign policy”, Gorbachev was condemning the use of military power in the modern world to influence foreign policies and international relations. Instead, foreign policies should be based on mutual understanding and the need to address human problems in a different way other than through military approaches (Gorbachev, 1988). The idea of eliminating military force as a way of solving political, social, and economic situations stemmed from Gorbachev’s need to create a democratic space for all nations in the world. Subsequently, the Soviets would give its allies the freedom to pursue their interests. This would lead to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the following years. Since its allies had the democratic space, they disintegrated into individual nations with unique interests and governance systems, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In terms of the future roles of the superpowers, Gorbachev foresaw a new approach to addressing the international crisis. The superpowers would have to reduce military influence in various nations (Gorbachev, 1988). Instead, they would support the foreign ideologies of other countries as long as they meant good for the people. The superpowers would allow democracy to prevail so that all nations can have the chance to create their governments, embrace sovereignty, and serve the interests of their people. They would withdraw military resources from various nations and reduce their possession of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons. Superpowers would only establish foreign policies based on mutual understanding between them and other nations.


Gorbachev, M. (1988). Gorbachev’s speech to the U.N. 1988. CNN Cold War. Web.

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