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In this quote, Ronald Reagan is making an observation about the causes of war based on historical lessons. He argues that wars often begin when governments calculate that initiating aggression or military action against other nations will come at a relatively “cheap price” in terms of costs and consequences.
Reagan is suggesting that wars are more likely to break out if leaders believe they can wage conflict or attack other countries without facing significant resistance or penalties in response. But history shows that when the perceived “price of aggression” is high, in the form of strong military retaliation or political/economic sanctions for example, governments will be less inclined to resort to aggression or war as a means of pursuing their interests.
So in essence, the quote is saying that wars can be deterred if governments understand the potential costs and risks of military conflict will be severe rather than inexpensive. According to Reagan, maintaining a high “price tag” on aggression through deterrent capabilities and clear consequences can help dissuade belligerent actions by national leaders and reduce the chances of war occurring.