Huntington, NY 11743
15 August 1992
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
To the Editor:
It is common to hear credit being given to Reagan/Bush for winning the Cold War. The American electorate, never strong on history, is being led to believe, it would seem, that this monumental victory was achieved in the four years between Mr. Reagan’s ascension to power in 1981 and Mikhail Gorbachov’s emergence as leader of the USSR in 1985. Completely forgotten are the four previous decades during which the Containment Policy, forged originally in the late Forties by the Truman Administration and continued by successive American administrations, provided the rationale for the Western Alliance to counter the threat of militant Soviet expansionism.
The final decline of the USSR, however, was triggered by the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, which ended when the USSR under Krushchev backed down to President Kennedy’s demands for the removal from Cuba of the offending nuclear missiles. Subsequently, in 1964, Krushchev was dumped; the Soviet leadership under Brezhnev was determined that henceforth they would deal from a position of strength. They initiated a massive expansion and modernization of their military forces, greater than anything heretofore seen during peacetime.
The Soviet military had first call on industrial production which still had not fully recovered from the devastation of World War II; the increased burden effectively curtailed any real growth in the economy which, consequently, stagnated. Soviet military strategy changed from an essentially defensive posture to an offensive one capable of projecting power beyond it’s borders via large, mobile ground forces, longerrange combat aircraft, more ICBM’s, a global surveillance operation and a bluewater Navy with it’s own aircraft and forward bases.
Behind the facade of a huge military establishment (a Potemkin village?) and with pretensions of grandeur, this “superpower”, the Holy See (Soviet Eurasian Empire) of Communism, was really the world’s largest underdeveloped nation! As current events demonstrate, the military was needed more to hold the empire together than to cope with external threats. Some in the West, a few, saw that the emperor had no clothes; the majority was impressed (and surprised at how quickly the empire collapsed).
Even the U.S., the richest nation on Earth with a much larger economic base to draw upon, couldn’t afford such waste; how long could it last? Well, it lasted only as long as the tired, scared old men in the Kremlin, the immmediate heirs of Stalin, who had a vested interest in the status quo, and it died with them. As Reagan’s luck would have it, they (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, et al) expired on his “watch”. And that’s how he won the Cold War.
The final irony is that the credit is being awarded to the oldest American president of this century; if any American president deserves credit, it belongs rightfully, for having started the process of Soviet decline almost exactly 30years ago, to the youngest!
Julius L. Roth