With his policy of containment, US diplomat George F. Kennan (1904–2005) devised a way to resist the Soviet Union's attempt to conquer the world for Communism. That way was to go to the brink of war to prevent war. His idea was first expressed in his famous Long Telegram from Moscow on February 22, 1946.
It took genius to see a wartime ally as a dangerous adversary, and to convince the American leadership to act upon it. Back in the United States, the young diplomat first acted as deputy commandant in the National War College. He then operated as director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff to restore Europe from wartime destruction. By 1950 Kennan began to reverse his thinking, believing that the military component of American policy was going too far. While his old colleagues continued to develop US power, given point by the atomic bomb, Kennan withdrew from government and began a new career as a public intellectual campaigning for a more peaceable policy in his eighteen books, and articles and talks.
The breakdown of the Soviet economy in the 1980s showed that Kennan was right the second time as well. Always sympathetic to the Russian people and culture, which the later Soviet leaders appreciated, Kennan was able to welcome the new non-Communist Russia into a more peaceable relationship with the democracies that ended the Cold War. His life and works have become a national treasure.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Strategic Life
2 The Professional
3 Containment: The Idea
4 Containment: The Policy Planning Staff Executes
5 Containment: The CIA Executes
6 CIA: A Larger Context
8 Containment on Second Thought
11 Presbyterian Saint
12 Public Intellectual
14 Ecce Homo
15 After Kennan