This article first appeared on the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University site.
In 1985, a Soviet leader came to power, leading one of the two superpowers in a bi-polar world, commanding a powerful military and leading a party mandated with changing the world.
Mikhail Gorbachev was also equipped with something far more powerful than the weapons in the Soviet arsenal—forecasts of the USSR’s future inability to compete with the United States in economic, technological and military terms. Gorbachev was convinced that the Soviet war economy and its priorities would constrain and exhaust its national capacity to compete successfully at the end of the 20th century—and that the internal system needed change for the USSR to sustain itself as a competitive, global power. Continue reading