According to Jonathan Weiler, director of undergraduate studies in global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "The Soviet economy had begun to stagnate by about 1975 ... dragged down by over-spending in the Soviet military at the expense of consumer needs" -- a lesson for our nation today as well.
Reagan's actions had a significant role in our confrontation with terrorism today. When the Soviet Union was invading Afghanistan, Reagan created Operation Cyclone. It was a covert plan to arm and finance the radical Islamic militant mujahedeen for their proclaimed jihad against the Soviet Union, instead of supporting less ideological resistance groups. It cost more than $2 billion. Within the ranks was a young Osama bin Laden, who used the skills he gained from his American training to form the terrorist organization al-Qaida, later giving birth to the breakaway group the Islamic State.
As Republicans prepare for Cleveland, it would be accurate to say Reagan's rhetoric was legendary and inspirational. However, the retrenchment he launched against the New Deal started the rise of income inequality, so reinstituting his policies now would only make it worse. In foreign policy, he armed people who hate us as much as they hated the Soviet Union.
Robert Weiner, an Oberlin College graduate, is a former spokesman for the Clinton White House and senior staffer for Democratic U.S. Reps. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper and Ed Koch and for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Eric Alves is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.