How did Reagan's greater defense budgets help end the Cold War? Or is there no correlation between the two? In addition, should a discussion on Reagan's role be limited to spending? What other factors about Reagan should be considered as well?
I would say that Reagan's defense budget definitely helped end the Cold War, but a discussion of Reagan's role should definitely not be limited to spending.
The Reagan Administration embarked on an ideological ("Evil Empire" rhetoric embarrassed Soviets -see their memoirs), political, diplomatic, economic offensive to combat the Soviet Union. This included stiffening export controls for sensitive industry and collusion with the Saudis to drive down the price of oil, thus hurting the Soviet economy still further. The Reagan Doctrine itself represented the combination of containment and roll-back on periphery - support anti-communist resistance in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Angola, Cambodia, even covert support for Solidarity. All of these actions were designed to raise the cost of Soviet adventurism ...
How Reagan's greater defense budgets helped to end the Cold War, along with consideration of other Reagan foreign and national security policies.