Choosing to "contain" the Soviet Empire over four decades did enormous damage not just in terms of the vassel populations and the millions of ruined lives ("stability" looks a lot better from the western side of the Iron Curtain than if you're stuck on the eastern side) and the difficulties those societies are having in recovering (not least demographically) from half-a-century as a prison state, but also in the enervation of the free world and its decay into relativist mush. That's one reason our "victory" in the Cold War is not felt as a victory by the populations of almost every Nato member state, although technically they "won" it. And it's part of the reason why we're disinclined to rouse ourselves for what the Administration calls another "long war".
This is preposterous. Of course Cold War stability looks better from west of the Berlin wall than east of it. But the prospect of a massive war between the United States and the Soviet Union likewise looks a lot better from Mark Steyn's armchair than it would have to anyone who would have been asked to fight in such a thing, or have his hometown turned into a battleground for it. The implication that the population of Eastern Europe just spent those decades praying for a snap American invasion is insane, but also reflective of the sort of mentality in which one needs to bother pointing out that few Iranians want the United States to attack their country.
Photo by Flickr user Edwin11 used under a Creative Commons license