REAGAN VS. COMMUNISM--AND CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
Reason resurrects the great Glenn Garvin's review of Peter Schweizer's Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism. The review is full of good stuff. Here's a snippet:
In retrospect, Reagan's point that the Soviet economy was on life support seems obvious to the point of banality. In fact, that's one of the arguments his critics use against him: that the Soviet economy would have imploded anyway, even without Reagan's defense buildup. But that's not the way foreign policy intellectuals saw it in 1982.
"It is a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable," declared economist Lester Thurow, adding that the Soviet Union was "a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States." (I wonder if Thurow had ever flown on a Soviet airliner?) John Kenneth Galbraith went further, insisting that in many respects the Soviet economy was superior to ours: "In contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."
Arthur Schlesinger, just back from a trip to Moscow in 1982, said Reagan was delusional. "I found more goods in the shops, more food in the markets, more cars on the street -- more of almost everything," he said, adding his contempt for "those in the U.S. who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink."
Few of Reagan's conservative allies thought the Soviet Union was in any danger either.