As a Native of the former Soviet Union and a speaker of the Russian language I really enjoyed President Gorbachev’s visit and presentation at Mason. He had the candor that reminded me very much of my grandfather, that lovely mix of misogyny and slight senility associated with members of the older generation. The personal highlight of the talk was his reflection on his childhood and the harsh realities his parents, siblings, and grandparents had to face. The story reminded me a lot of the tales my grandfather tells regarding the Famine of the early 1900’s and the communes and farm-work of the time. It was also great to hear “Gorby” talk of the “Bottom Billion” and climate change as the most pressing challenges of our time, and the failure of democracy to provide prosperity around the world. Also, the Q&A following the speech was also very interesting. I was almost shocked by Provost Stearns’ boldness in asking the question “did you ever honestly think you would press ‘the button’ and drop an atomic bomb on the USA,” though was pleasantly surprised by the former President’s response.

In terms of the topic of the speech, reflecting on the state of the world since 1989, I felt as though it wasn’t really adequately addressed but interesting to hear about. The twenty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union has brought many more challenges than must have been anticipated at the time. It must have been a great celebration of the triumph of capitalism over the forces of communism and the return of American international primacy. Unfortunately, the 2 decades since that joyous time have not gone as expected. With 2 iraq wars, a war in Afghanistan, bombing of Bosnia, and other military action by the US in addition to the current economic crisis we find ourselves show that, frankly, America may not be all it’s cracked up to be. The ideals are sound, worthy, and almost holy but unfortunately the actions taken up in the cause of those ideals have not always been as sound.

Additionally, Gorbachev talked of the “positive” direction in which Russia is heading. Growing in a family that despised the Soviet Union, communist ideals, and authoritarian rulers I see the dangerous direction in which Russia is headed, with Vladimir Putin at the wheel. Despite President Medvedyev’s puppetry, it is very clear who is and will be in charge for quite some time. This lopsided “Democracy” is so only in name, and the policies of international relations and domestic economic progress instituted in Russia are far from positive. I was surprised that gorby talked so highly of Russia’s democracy though he did say it was only “50%” there.

Finally, in regards to disarmament and demilitarization of the US, Gorby proposed that we do both, talking about how the Nuclear Club should get together and scale down the world’s supplies of nukes in order to prevent other nations (like N. Korea and Iran) from gaining nuclear technology. Now, Nuclear weapons scare me but I don’t think getting rid of ours is the answer; unfortunately I don’t know what “the” answer is. But so long as we go about keeping our nukes, countries are going to want their own, and unless we’re willing to bomb them to keep them from producing their own nukes, we’re SOL and they’re gonna get them whether we like it or not (read n. korea missile launch etc).

All in all it was great to have such a prominent world figure come to Mason and to hear about some of his personal background and his views on the world, the US, Obama, and the future.


One Response to “Gorby”

  1. intheeyesoftheuniverse Says:

    thanks for adding your two cents…

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