An almost unknown story, and one that needs some background, is how Ronald Reagan defeated the mighty Soviet Union - with wheat.
Early in his presidency, he did something enigmatic, and criticized by both the left and the right. He opened the door to unlimited grain sales to the Soviet Union. The left accused him of pandering to the farm vote, and the right, of supporting the Soviet Union.
For its part, the Soviet leaders since Lenin had been determined above all else to collectivize agriculture. It was an obsession with them, and one that never, ever worked, leaving their nation always on the verge of famine.
While they were willing to buy US wheat, they would only use it to feed their multitude of working farm animals, too paranoid that it might be poisoned. But then they would divert the animal food to feed their people.
Since the Ruble was worthless outside of the Soviet Union, they had to pay for the wheat with oil, soon all the crude oil they could produce. For wheat is expensive. Yet it was not enough.
So soon thereafter, they sent their gold to the US to buy wheat. And their reserves were soon exhausted, so they began dredging the deltas of their rivers to get more gold. But it was never enough.
Likewise any rare minerals, and their foreign currency reserves, all went to the US to buy wheat. Soon they were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something, anything they could sell.
And then president Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Star Wars”. A program he could throw hundreds of billions of dollars at, as if they were nothing. It was too much for the Soviets to bear.
They could not match SDI in any way, which meant that the US would be protected against their missiles, but the Soviet Union would be helpless against American missiles.
To add insult to injury, their war in Afghanistan was going to hell. Again, thanks to Ronald Reagan, their military was dispirited, failing miserably, and soaking up what little money they had left.
The Cold War was over. They lost. And Ronald Reagan, the last Cold Warrior, was victorious.
Isn’t it interesting how all of the fabulous things that Reagan did are “almost unknown?”
Thanks for the details on the wheat sales in helping to collapse the Soviet economy. I remember taking classes on the socialist economic theory in college during this period. Those theories an their philosophies never fit with the reality and always required an external capitalist “enemy” to sponge off of for resources as well as an internal black market/private/capitalist/underground economy to feed their citizens.
One of the most fascinating accounts I read about Soviet intelligence is titled Washington Station: My Life as a KGB Spy in America, which describes in detail the sad state of Soviet intelligence in the waning years of the Reagan Administration. What is most fascinating about the book is how much less effective Soviet intelligence would have been without volunteer help from American lefties in media, academia and government.