Old Soviet leader appeals  vs a return to Cold War

Published November 15, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

For many years after the end of World War II in 1945,  the world lived in fear of nuclear devastation as the United States (US) and Russia  led their respective blocs of nations in a Cold War that threatened to explode in a  shooting war with every military and diplomatic crisis.

Each side amassed nuclear missiles aimed at each other’s cities. It was only in 1987 that two world powers  agreed to end their nuclear rivalry and signed an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty eliminating all short —  and intermediate-range  land-based nuclear and conventional missiles. The treaty was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. Shortly afterwards, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) itself disbanded and the various Soviet republics attained independence from the Russian Federation.

Gorbachev is today a frail 87-year-old who was honored last week with a new documentary about his life, his reforms in the 1980s, and the arms control drive that ended the Cold War. He spoke briefly to the cinema audience in Moscow. “We must hold back,” he said. “We have to continue the course we mapped.  We have to ban  war  once and for all. Most important is to  get  rid of nuclear weapons.”

Earlier last month in an article in the New York Times, Gorbachev had denounced a statement of US President Donald Trump that he planned to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces  Treaty  signed in 1987.  The  world  must  stop a new Cold War, Gorbachev said. “I will do everything for this.”

The fact is that the  1987 treaty banned only short- and intermediate-range missiles held by the US and Russia – not  the long-range missiles and the missiles on board submarines roaming the world’s oceans.  It is believed that there are still about 14,900 nuclear weapons in the world today. Most of them are controlled by the US and Russia, with a few in the hands of China, France, United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea.

Gorbachev is  today  held in high regard by the world, although he is reviled by many Russians for the reforms that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Today the US  remains  the  lone world super-power,  but  there are still 14,900 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine nations, with Iran trying to join them.

The  old  Russian leader came out of retirement to speak in public for perhaps one last time last week to plead against a return to the Cold War. All men and nations  of  goodwill  are with him in his appeal.