Apparently the debate over how the Cold War was won still rages. It’s a matter of some import these days, because of the rough analogy to WWIV, the Caliphascist War. Of course, much of the Left has already rewritten history to claim that the Left supported the West during the struggle which means that they won’t be learning much from it. But that aside,the goal currently seems to be to go on about the inevitability of the collapse of Communism (despite the Left’s claims of how it was going to be the West that collapsed in economic and/or ecological destruction) so as to make the military contribution seem irrelevant.
It is the case that Communism was doomed to collapse as long as the West continued to exist. What people fail to note is that Communism still works better than, say, raw brutality such as Ba’ath Iraq. It’s simply unable to compete with liberal democracies. This means that one solution to collapse would be to destroy the liberal democracies and become the best organized society. This was prevented by having a strong military that could contest the USSR both tactically and geo-strategically. Absent that, the USSR would have expanded and gradually overun the liberal democracies. Whether it could do so faster than it collapsed internally is an open question, but I’d rather not run the experiment.
Because of this, President Reagan’s military build up wasn’t necessary to cause the USSR to collapse. It did, however, bring about the collapse much sooner than otherwise. That, to me, is more than sufficient to justify the effort. Shifting forward the time when hundreds of millions would live better, freer lives and the threat of world wide nuclear devastation removed seems worth quite a lot. If, of course, one puts a non-zero value on the lives and well being of foreigners. But I guess we’ve long known that progressives just don’t feel that bond of common humanity.