Our local paper had an opinion piece on the death of democracy and the rise of fascism - meaning, capitalism, of course - and it contained this characterization:
By the time Reagan imperiously commanded Gorbachev to "tear down that wall," the evil empire had already imploded. It was in its death throes. The U.S. president relished his opportunity to turn the Russian people's suffering into a live-action morality tale.
The longer the bread lines in Moscow, the more he mocked the austerity that such images displayed. To Reagan, the lesson could not have been simpler. Get out those credit cards, America, and turn up the thermostat. The Cold War's over and the good guys won.
I realize it's unfair to the author to take Peter's characterizations over hers, since Peter's views are no doubt tainted by experience. But what did Reagan think of the Russian people and their trials? I tend to suspect he regarded them as human beings who deserved to be free, not props in an empty parade of ideological bromides. But gosh, that's just a guess.