Where’s The Debate About Reagan’s “Win?”

What’s the big deal when the news media covers assertions as facts without delving into the assertions’ accuracy? I hope the answer is patently obvious in the wake of the Bush Administration’s “Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks” and “Iran has WMD” assertions?

But this phenomenon is on my mind once again today, for it is the much-ballyhooed twentieth anniversary of former President Reagan’s theatrical challenge in Berlin that Russia “tear down this wall.” Over and over, we are hearing that this macho made-for-TV double dare ya and the accompanying military shopping spree was what led to “Reagan winning the Cold War.”

Unless you are one of 17 eggheads in the nation who regularly watch C-Span and public television, you will hear little or no discussion about whether the “Reagan won the Cold War” assertion is true. For instance, you won’t hear that seven Presidents fought the Cold War before President Reagan, with nukes and a containment policy of their own.

You will only hear that the Gipper won.

This debate should matter to more than just historians, because today’s leaders continue to employ “Reagan won the Cold War” claims to market everything from massive military spending to reckless pro wrestler-style diplomacy.

Did Reagan win the Cold War? I’m not equipped to answer the question. But a quick Google tells me it’s, at the very least, a seriously debated topic. But it’s a debate mainstream news media consumers all too rarely hear.

– Loveland

5 thoughts on “Where’s The Debate About Reagan’s “Win?”

  1. Vladimir O'Malley says:

    I have to laugh at all these attempts to rewrite history.

    Surely you’re not suggesting that Jimmy Carter contributed to the Soviets’ demise?

    Ronnie accelerated the Commies’ downfall by playing hardball like none of his predecessors dared attempt.

    In the end it was Reagan who put his boot on their neck. That’s the way it happened, and that’s they way everyone remembers it. Correctly so.

    All that said, Bush 1.0 completely blew it by not supporting Russia’s assimilation into a real democracy.

  2. jl says:

    Carter is a nice red herring, Vlad, but Gorbachev, Nixon, Truman and others are the ones who come up in the conversation…if you’re open to a conversation.

    If your mind is open, there are lots of thoughtful pieces out there that paint a more complete picture than “the Gipper told them to take it down, and by golly, they took it down.”

    Example:

    http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2004/aug/knopfAUG04.asp

    We can debate whether or not Reagan did it alone, but my bigger concern here is why the debate itself goes uncovered.

  3. Heard presidential historian Michael Beschloss today, who said Reagan does deserve credit, but not because of the defense buildup. He says Reagan was motivated to reduce the threat of nuclear war — which is not quite the same thing as defeating communism — and he invested time in learning about Russian culture so he could deal effectively with Gorbachev by understanding the Russian character.

    Unfortunately, the current occupant goes by his gut and looking into people’s eyes instead.

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