On Leiter's blog there has been some interest in the role of Reagan in the collapse of USSR. I am not going to take a stand on that. (In general I am with Hume and Adam Smith in disliking mono-causal explanations for social phenomena.) But it is worth saying something about how the Russian threat was perceived by the economics profession. In particular, there were three outstanding social scientists who bucked the general (and bipartisan) trend against overestimating the Soviet GDP (and consequently Soviat military capabilities): Walt Rostow, a Kennedy Democrat (Liberal anti-Communist); G. Warren Nutter one of the founders of so-called Virginia School of Economics (i.e., public choice and law & economics), who became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the first administration of President Nixon (a very interesting character--I have written a bit about him); Franklyn D. Holtzman, an economist at Tufts University (where I took classes with him); he looked like a Bolshevik, but I have no idea what his political views were.
Most economists -- and this included the most influential text-book of Paul Samuelson (by no means a friend of the Reagan administration) -- wildly overestimated the economic capabilities of the USSR. This has been very nicely documented in a recentpaper (now in press) by David Levy and Sandra Peart. There are lots of important lessons in this episode, but about that some other time.