Much of the credit for winning the Cold War has gone to the late U.S. president Ronald Reagan. And deservedly so. Too little consideration and credit are accorded anymore to the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev. Had the world, and Mr. Reagan for that matter, had the misfortune of a leader like Brezhnev at Kremlin, we would have lived in a much less desirable world since 1985 onward. Indeed, our chance was that Mr. Gorbachev was both visionary and skilled politician. Visionary in the sense that he aimed for a better world, and skilled for his maneuvering change at so many levels in USSR, despite having so few allies and many adversaries.
Visionariness and skillfulness are not the notions usually associated with Gorbachev. Instead, most point to his quixotically trying to reform the CPSU from inside the party or to the apparent failure to hold the Soviet Union together. While I don't think he could have survived his adversaries, until august 1991 that is, from outside the CPSU, the dissolution of the USSR was the best outcome for all in final analysis.