by Mikhail Gorbachev
The former head of the Soviet Union
Gorbachev speaks during a ceremony
over three paintings by Russian artists
Museum of Russian Impressionism in Moscow,
Maximov - AFP/Getty Images
was the president of the Soviet
and is the author of
The New Russia.
The world today is overwhelmed with
problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss.
But no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of
politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing
this ruinous race must be our top
The current situation is too dangerous.
More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought
Russian forces and weapons that
used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each
other, as if to shoot point-blank.
While state budgets are struggling to fund people's essential social
needs, military spending is growing.
Money is easily found,
sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that
of the weapons of mass destruction
for submarines whose single
salvo is capable of devastating half a continent
for missile defense systems
that undermine strategic stability
Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and
defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities
are joining the bellicose chorus.
It all looks as if the world is
preparing for war.
It could have been
In the second half of the 1980s, together with the U.S., we launched
a process of reducing nuclear weapons and lowering the nuclear
By now, as Russia and the U.S. reported to the Non-proliferation
Treaty Review Conference, 80% of the nuclear weapons accumulated
during the years of the Cold War have been decommissioned and
No one's security has been diminished, and the danger of nuclear war
starting as a result of technical failure or accident has been
This was made possible, above all, by the awareness of the leaders
of major nuclear powers that nuclear war is unacceptable.
In November 1985, at the first
summit in Geneva, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the U.S.
Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Our
two nations will not seek military superiority. This statement was
met with a sigh of relief worldwide.
I recall a
Politburo meeting in 1986 at which
the defense doctrine was discussed.
The proposed draft contained the
"Respond to attack with all
Members of the politburo objected to
All agreed that nuclear weapons must serve only one purpose:
And the ultimate goal should be a world without
Breaking out of the vicious
Today, however, the nuclear threat once again seems real.
between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for
several years now. The
advocates for arms build-up and
military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands.
We must break out of this situation. We need to resume political
dialogue aiming at joint decisions and joint action.
There is a view that the dialogue should focus on fighting
terrorism. This is indeed an important, urgent task. But, as a core
of a normal relationship and eventually partnership, it is not
The focus should once again be on preventing war, phasing out the
arms race, and reducing weapons arsenals. The goal should be to
agree, not just on nuclear weapons levels and ceilings, but also on
missile defense and strategic stability.
In modern world, wars must be outlawed, because none of the global
problems we are facing can be resolved by war - not poverty, nor the
environment, migration, population growth, or shortages of
Take the first step
I urge the members of the U.N. Security Council - the body that
bears primary responsibility for
international peace and security -
to take the first step.
Specifically, I propose that a Security Council meeting at the level
of heads of state adopt a resolution stating that nuclear war is
unacceptable and must never be fought.
I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin - the Presidents of two nations that
90% of the world's nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
once said that one of the main
freedoms is freedom from fear.
Today, the burden of fear and the stress of bearing it is felt by
millions of people, and the main reason for it is militarism, armed
conflicts, the arms race, and the nuclear Sword of Damocles.
the world of this fear means making people freer.
This should become a common goal. Many other problems would then be
easier to resolve.
The time to decide and act is now...