One of the many annoying things I often hear is “Reagan won the Cold War”. It’s the wrong question. While the Cold Warn certainly wasn’t won by Jimmy Carter, it wasn’t Reagan either. Here is the analogy I use.
Imagine two men in a bar. They’ve just finished fighting other people together. After that fight is done, they start to squabble amongst themselves. Both men pull guns and a tense standoff ensues.
Neither side has a clear edge as both guns are comparable and effective. The standoff continues for quite some time. Both parties upgrade their weaponry periodically. One of the people spends all of his non-weapon money on health food, while the other spends all of his non-weapon money on crystal meth and salty snacks. After a while the first health food person buys a pricey new SA80 rifle. The meth/salt guy complains about a new arms race, then has a heart attack and dies.
That’s the end of the Cold War. The canard “We outspent them” ignores the fact that Communism is not capable of utilizing resources efficiently, and if the Soviets hadn’t been using their resources on weapons they would be wasting the resources some other way. While Reagan did see the evil nature of communism accurately, he wasn’t responsible for the heart attack. Happily, communism is self-limiting that way.