The Soviet system started to collapse economically in the 70s. Globalization was making it harder to maintain the Iron Curtain. The satellites were (slowly and unofficially) drifting into western markets and getting too expensive to control. Domestically, there was a mounting social unrest because the system was not providing for it's citizens like its western neighbors. Leading Soviet historian, Georgi Arbatov, has made it very clear that Soviet Union was rapidly unwinding before Reagan came to Washington. When Reagan finally entered the picture, there were powerful forces inside the highest levels of the Soviet political system that wanted to de-miliatarize, letting the Curtain and broken economic policies collapse of their own weight. However, Reagan's military extremism -- provoking an arms race and challenging areas of truly weakened Soviet Control in South America, the Caribbean theater, and Middle East -- gave a minority of Soviet hardliners more power internally against those who would unwind the old system. In short, Reagan empowered the old Soviet guard to defeat (delay) the powerful westernizing movement which eventually brought Gorbachev to power. In effect, Reagan not only scared Moscow back into a steroidal version of the Cold War -- but by inflating Moscow's power (which had been rapidly deteriorating for 20 years), Ronnie essentially put America on a bankrupting path of military expansion & spending. By the end of Reagan's tenure, America had over 800 bases spread across the globe, as well as a Defense industry that had no-bid access to the taxpayer's wallet and a budget that was kept largely in the dark. Suffice it to say, there were now massive financial interests tied to military expansion. Reagan's motivations were many. First, by over-hyping the Soviet threat, he could militarize vital regions of the burgeoning global market. Indeed, the transnationals which fund American elections require access to cheap 3rd world labor and resources (and these places are often very unstable -- hence, the need to base the globe). Second, the domestic political gains of national security threats are too numerous to mention. Nothing moves money into a budget, or a voter into the voting booth like fear. It is the oldest trick in the book. Any time Washington needs to move money, they use fear: war on poverty, war on drugs, war on terrorism, etc. War moves money -- it is the essential political tool. The Iraq War is the most symbolic outgrowth of the Reagan Doctrine (i.e., over-hyping an enemy for political reasons). He gave a tiny block of "neocons" (and the military industrial bureaucracies they served) enough political power to lead the country into a terminal quagmire on false premises. Two presidents, Bush and Obama, became a puppets of the political movement Reagan strengthened. What is Reagan's Cold War legacy? The Soviets and the USA both lost, that is, the Cold War (and the internal political movements it strengthened) bankrupted both countries. Curiously, both countries died in Afghanistan, the final resting place for military & political bureaucracies that continue to fight (spend) even when there is no country to fight, no enemy to vanquish, and no clearly definable objective to achieve. Sadly, the American people are left only with lies and crippling debt, not to mention the civil rights which have been destroyed in the name of "security" - and please, let's not even talk about the biggest most unaccountable bureaucracy of all: Homeland Security. [and you thought the Right didn't like Big Government. Are you serious?] Indeed, you have created something which data mines your emails and web-tracks, but lacks the organizational dexterity to run a laundromat. What do you think the Republicans are going to do with Homeland Security once they get back in power? They're going to hunt their political enemies again, like Eliot Spitzer, who was making trouble for Bush allies on Wall Street like Hank Greenberg (AIG). Don't you get it? National Security bureaucracies are always categorically used to consolidate political power. Study history. But I digress. Once America overcomes the Reagan Cold War modus (specifically the way fear is used to strengthen various industries, political movements, and bureaucracies), it will be able to take a more objective view of its unsustainable global entanglements. Until that time comes, it will continue to exist in a politically manufactured cocoon of fear, patriotism, and messianic interventionism AKA "saving the world" -- the most utopian liberal hubris of all. At some point, saving the world or managing the globe becomes too expensive and the money runs out. Sadly, this is a lesson the American Right failed to learn on time. Fact is though, America had a good run. Rome Fell. C'est la vie!