One school of thought gives policy-makers in the United States the credit for pushing the conflict toward a swift end for exactly these reasons. According to this way of thinking, president Ronald Reagan, through massive investment in the military, combined with tough talk and simultaneous diplomatic overtures, helped bring about the end of the Cold War. So the incredible cost was an effort to drive the conflict toward a swift conclusion, a departure from the detente approach pursued by Nixon/Kissinger.
Another school of thought points out that while the strain of the arms race certainly caused problems for the Soviet economy, what really ended the Cold War were internal changes in the USSR and in the eastern bloc in general. A series of events, including the war in Afghanistan and the Solidarity movement in Poland were both symptoms of and catalysts for change that caused the collapse of communist governments in the Warsaw Pact nations. This school of thought tends to give Mikhail Gorbachev more credit than anyone else for managing and encouraging the reforms that eventually spiraled out of his control.