Jeffrey Sommers in CounterPunch:
Mikhail Gorbachev presented a figure of Greek tragedy proportions. Possessing good intentions and intellectual curiosity, Gorbachev nonetheless became the most reviled man in Russia, following the USSR’s demise. Yet, with Gorbachev, his worst qualities were connected to his best. Gorbachev was the wrong man at the wrong time to resolve the contradictions created by the Stalinist and then Brezhnev bureaucratic model of really-existing socialism in the Soviet Union. Increasingly hated at home, Gorbachev was beloved by world leaders in the “West” as the man who peacefully (at least by the comparative metrics of collapsing empires) unwound the USSR, even if trying to save its all-union character. Meanwhile, for China, Gorbachev delivered lessons in what not to do when reforming a sclerotic post-Stalinist system requiring economic reforms, if not transformation.
What happened when the USSR produced its first post-World War II leader untethered to Joseph Stalin (and those he appointed)?