"It Wasn't Inevitable," The Weekly Standard, June 21, 2004.
It is generally conceded–even by Senator Kennedy!–that Reagan’s Cold War militancy helped bring about the collapse of Communist Russia. But that’s a deceptive statement. He didn’t help bring it about. He brought it about. It is tempting to see the Soviet collapse, in retrospect, as inevitable for internal reasons, while allowing that Reagan’s policies hastened a predictable end. But that end was not predictable. Throughout Reagan’s eight years in office, the Soviet Union remained a major military power–a major nuclear military power. The governments of Western Europe were sufficiently impressed by this power to consider occasional appeasement as a suitable option. And the people of Western Europe were subject to intermittent panic at the possibility of nuclear war on their territory.