Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gorby Groupie


A couple of weeks ago, famed malletier Louis Vuitton unveiled its new brilliant advertisement campaign, starring various pop cultural figures. Amongst the Catherine Deneuves and André Agassis of this world, an unlikely pinup: Mikhail Gorbachev.

What is extraordinary with this Louis Vuitton shot is that it forces us to look at this towering historical figure with perspective and under a different light. When the old Soviet Union was falling apart, Gorbachev was forced to oblige to a reality that because of his upbringing, had seen highly unlikely. Communism had failed his people buy mostly, it had failed him. By the time the Russian baton had been passed to Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev had already started walking to a different beat, that of Perestroïka.

But beyond the long term effect of his proposed reforms, Gorbachev distanced himself from other World Leaders of his generation by not only accepting his failures but also by recognizing them. This recognition came perhaps a bit late (as late as last year in an unforgettable interview with Charlie Rose) but maybe it will show current leaders that recognizing failure is a step toward making things better, if not right. Just imagine if Colin Powell had recognized his failure prior to his all-style-no-substance speech at the UN. What if Rumsfeld, Rice, Blair, Bush and co. had recognized the weakness of their proposed plans for war, Iraq wouldn’t be the giant coffin it is today.

Some circles consider Gorbachev to be passé but au contraire, he is still very much relevant and the World could stand to learn from his Glasnost.

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