Weiler_DidReaganWinTheColdWar - Did Ronald Reagan Win the...

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Did Ronald Reagan Win the Cold War? Sorry, Reagan loyalists: the answer is no. by Jonathan Weiler, Contributor 6.16.04 In the ten days since his passing, no claim has been made more often or with more certitude than that Ronald Reagan won the cold war. The standard narrative asserts that his confrontational approach to communism, both in word ("evil empire") and in deed (record military buildups and the introduction of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), known as Star Wars), forced the Soviet Union to cry uncle. This strategy, so the story goes, resulted first in the breakthrough arms reduction treaties between Gorbachev and Reagan in the late 1980s, and then in the collapse of the Soviet system itself. The problem with this narrative is that it gets most of the story wrong, and it glosses over a less comfortable legacy of Reagan's policies. The first erroneous piece of the narrative concerns the effectiveness of Reagan's confrontational first term in undermining the Soviet economy. It is true that defense spending comprised an excessively large share of the overall Soviet economy, but this fact well pre-dated the Reagan presidency. And virtually all observers agree that the Soviet economy had begun to stagnate by about 1975. By the time of Leonid Brezhnev's death in 1982, many in the Soviet leadership knew that their economy was beset by long term problems, including eroding worker discipline, rising alcoholism, wasteful investment and the Soviets' striking failure to integrate computer technology into their economy. None of these factors owed anything to the Reagan military buildup, which began only a year before Brezhnev's death and several years after Soviet growth rates began to sputter. A second misplaced claim is that Reagan's policies prompted beleaguered Soviet hardliners to promote the reformist
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This note was uploaded on 08/06/2011 for the course SSC 305 taught by Professor Null during the Fall '11 term at GWU.

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Weiler_DidReaganWinTheColdWar - Did Ronald Reagan Win the...

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