First, what are the main points in favor of the thesis that Reagan, or at least Reagan’s policies, “won” the Cold War?
Second, why has there been so much resistance to this thesis—and not only amongst LSE students?
Indeed, in a recent class I taught at my home institution—the London School of Economics—I asked a simple question about which policy-maker at the time was most instrumental in ending Soviet control in Eastern and Central Europe.
Reagan was of course high on my list of possible candidates; and you might say that for a European I made a fairly strong case for him—but to no avail.
However, Gorbachev's radical reforms were the most crucial as they all made it easier to attack the Soviet machine and bring it down by those who resented it, such as Lech Walsea in Poland.
For a British professor with more than a passing interest in US foreign policy and the role of the United States in ending the Cold War, it is indeed fascinating to observe how deeply divided opinion still remains over the part played in the making of 1989 by one very special American: President Ronald Reagan.
But in early 2011 Reagan did: forty-eight pages of it from the cover title—“Reagan: An American Icon”—through the back page where we find out that it was no less a corporation than General Electric (a company for which Reagan worked as spokesman between 19) that had in fact sponsored that very important “Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration.” Reagan, I suspect, would not have been dismayed.
Indeed, according to one account, he later admitted that working for GE was “the second most important eight-year job” he ever had!
Nor was Reagan content just to point out what was wrong with planning—though he did so in some detail.
A few months later he spoke of the USSR in almost religious terms.