"But we didn't have to fight those guys for 12 more years, and Reagan was simply gone by then."
You obviously can't account for everything that may or may not come as a consequence from your actions, right? Analysis paralysis and all that.
For sure - it's hard to look at the big picture when you're all about the short term win. It's in your best interest to kick the ball down the temporal field and let someone else worry about it.
But that's not fundamentally what leadership's about, is it?