While much of the history here is correct, I take exception to the claim that it was Republican leadership that brought down the Soviet Union. That system was declining for decades. When I was in college in the early 1980s, my Russian history class kept returning to the question of how much longer until it just collapses. This was early in Reagan's first term, and an ordinary undergraduate history class (albeit with an outstanding professor) knew that it was doomed. Reagan and G.H.W. Bush simply happened to be in office when it finally happened.