Archie Brown

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When the Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko died on the evening of March 10, 1985, and Mikhail Gorbachev was elected by the Communist Party’s Central Committee as its general secretary less than 24 hours later, few realized that this presaged serious reform.

And no one, including Mr. Gorbachev himself, realized just how far that reform — known as perestroika (reconstruction) — would go and what would be its consequences.

Yet the choice of Mr. Gorbachev 25 years ago was of decisive importance. We know the views of every other member of the Politburo at the time of Chernenko’s death — from their memoirs, interviews and the official archives — and not one of them would have undertaken radical reform of the Communist system or transformed Soviet foreign policy in anything like the way Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »