It is then a question of determinacy or of choice.
The historian John Lewis Gaddis, in his book The Cold War, highlights the figure and role of Ronald Reagan as being the reason for the downfall of the USSR. Gaddis gives much attention to the character, personality, and beliefs of the former president. In his own estimation, Reagan’s personality led to his decision to abandon the policy of détente, one which had been a central one of the American government since the Nixon administration. “Reagan came to this position thorough faith, fear, and self-confidence. His faith was that democracy and capitalism would triumph over communism, a ‘temporary aberration which will one day,’ he predicted in 1975, ‘disappear from the earth because it is contrary to human nature’” (Gaddis 2005, p. 276). Reagan’s intended his own economic policies, specifically de-regulation and low taxes, to have an international appeal in contrast to the party-line Marxism of the Soviets. Reagan shrewdly sought to abolish nuclear weapons while also enacting a massive military build-up. “It followed that neither communism nor nuclear weapons should continue to exist, and yet détente was ensuring that both did” (Gaddis 2005, p. 217). This allowed him to gain support abroad and curtail any suspicions on the Right that he was going soft. According to Gaddis, Reagan suspected that the USSR had suffered ideologically in the eyes of the world. Reagan implemented the Strategic Defense Initiative, which “challenged the argument that vulnerability could provide security [and] exploited the Soviet Union’s backwardness in computer technology…” (Gaddis 2005, p. 226). Reagan’s policy of confronting the USSR while also leaving open the possibility of peace forced the Soviets to increase defense spending while already fighting in Afghanistan. ...
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