Paul Craig Roberts writes:

The US military/security complex did not want Reagan to end the Cold War, as the Cold War was the foundation of profit and power for the complex. The CIA told Reagan that if he renewed the arms race, the Soviets would win, because the Soviets controlled investment and could allocate a larger share of the economy to the military than Reagan could.

Reagan did not believe the CIA’s claim that the Soviet Union could prevail in an arms race. He formed a secret committee and gave the committee the power to investigate the CIA’s claim that the US would lose an arms race with the Soviet Union. The committee concluded that the CIA was protecting its prerogatives. I know this because I was a member of the committee.

Bruce D. Burkowitz writes:

The challenge of anticipating the Soviet collapse was even greater for U.S. intelligence because the very notion of collapse was inconsistent with the thinking of most Western analysts and scholars. The prevailing view up to the late 1970s was that the Soviet Union would evolve, not collapse. True, some Sovietologists had long believed that a multi-ethnic, non-democratic state dependent on a centrally planned economy was inherently unstable. Indeed, that was the assumption upon which containment was based. But hardly any of these scholars were willing to hazard a time frame for a Soviet implosion. So their views were more of a theory than an intelligence estimate.

My question is: Is there evidence to suggest the CIA didn't want Reagan to end the Cold War?

  • 3
    Isn't this better suited for skeptics stack exchange?
    – user6591
    Jan 8, 2017 at 5:05
  • 1
    skeptics considers this offtopic so history it is skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36623/…
    – hawkeye
    Jan 8, 2017 at 10:50
  • "Is there evidence to suggest the CIA didn't want Reagan to end the Cold War?" ... isn't what Paul Roberts wrote just that? Or do you mean corroborating evidence? If that's what you mean, just who do you think you'll get it from? The CIA itself? Other members of the "Secret Committee?"
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 9, 2017 at 16:55
  • 5
    Does the fact (if true) that "The CIA told Reagan that if he renewed the arms race, the Soviets would win..." demonstrate that the CIA didn't want the CW ended, or was it just their honestly mistaken evaluation of the situation? I dare say you could have found a lot of people, in and out of government, who believed that Soviet-style central planning was more efficient. And probably still could :-(
    – jamesqf
    Jan 9, 2017 at 19:42
  • Seems absurd and the source is sketchy. I believe this is what Roberts refers to: cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000268224.pdf Warning of threats is not the same as rooting for the enemy. It is also not true that Regan "ended" the USSR, or that the CIA could possibly conceive of a plan to thwart the collapse of the USSR. There is just so much wrong here.
    – user27636
    May 3, 2017 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


CDR David G. Muller, Jr., USN (Ret.) -- an intelligence specialist with the Navy and the CIA, discusses this, to an extent, in his recent memoir, "Knowing the Enemy: An Intelligence Officer's Memoir 1966-2014." (Note, I served under CDR Muller in the mid-1980s.) CDR Muller states that intelligence gathering long focused on the Soviet Union, to the exclusion of other countries -- especially within the Naval Intelligence community -- because the Pentagon needed intelligence about the Soviet threat to justify to Congress the need to appropriate money for bigger and better weapons. Intelligence reports on the Far East, or elsewhere, was in high demand by the tactical commands, such as Pacific Command, or Sixth Fleet, for example, were more likely to have to invade or intervene in wars against less-capable enemies (e.g. Libya or Syria), or terrorists threats. Nevertheless, as I understood his book to say, the CIA was completely on board with Reagan's plan to out-spend the Soviets on weapons purchases, and bankrupt the regime by forcing it to keep up its defense spending. Although Muller does not address that Reagan's "Star Wars" program, which other analysts have said was a bluff, CDR Muller once told me that he was pleased that novelist Tom Clancey had, at times, exaggerated the capabilities of US intelligence gathering and weapons technology -- "let the Russians try to replicate that capability -- they will go broke doing so," he said with regard to another area of technology that I cannot discuss further.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Muller writes that the intelligence agencies finally turned to spend resources on intelligence gathering on other threats -- something he had campaigned for since the late 1970s.

The Pentagon, unfortunately, determined that the end of the Cold War and the deterioration of the Russian/Soviet Navy and other armed services, meant that scores of relatively new destroyers and submarines would be sunk or (in the case of nuclear-powered ships and submarines, dismantled and recycled) well before the end of their service lifespan. The option to mothball the vessels and preserving them for later needs was rejected as unnecessary and too expensive (plus upgrading the older ships would mean less new construction).

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