- George F. Kennan
Infobox US Ambassador
name=George F. Kennan
country=the Soviet Union
term_start=May 14, 1952
term_end=September 19, 1952
Alan G. Kirk
Charles E. Bohlen
term_start2=May 16, 1961
term_end2=July 28, 1963
Karl L. Rankin
Charles Burke Elbrick
birth_date=February 16, 1904
death_date=March 17, 2005 (aged 101)
George Frost Kennan (February 16, 1904 – March 17, 2005) was an American
advisor, diplomat, political scientist, and historian, best known as "the father of containment" and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War. He later wrote standard histories of the relations between Russia and the Western powers.
In the late 1940s, his writings inspired the
Truman Doctrineand the U.S. foreign policyof "containing" the Soviet Union, thrusting him into a lifelong role as a leading authority on the Cold War. His " Long Telegram" from Moscowin 1946, and the subsequent 1947 article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" argued that the Soviet regime was inherently expansionist and that its influence had to be "contained" in areas of vital strategic importance to the United States. These texts quickly emerged as foundational texts of the Cold War, expressing the Truman administration's new anti-Soviet Union policy. Kennan also played a leading role in the development of definitive Cold War programs and institutions, most notably the Marshall Plan.
Shortly after Kennan's doctrines had been enshrined as official U.S. policy, he began to criticize the policies that he had seemingly helped launch. By mid-1948, he was convinced that the situation in
Western Europehad improved to the point where negotiations could be initiated with Moscow. The suggestion did not resonate within the Truman administration, and Kennan's influence was increasingly marginalized—particularly after Dean Achesonwas appointed Secretary of State in 1949. As U.S. Cold War strategy assumed a more aggressive and militaristic tone, Kennan bemoaned what he called a misinterpretation of his thinking.
In 1950, Kennan left the Department of State, except for two brief ambassadorial stints in Moscow and
Yugoslavia, and became a leading realist critic of U.S. foreign policy. He continued to be a leading thinker in international affairs as a faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Studyfrom 1956 until his death at age 101 in March 2005.
Early life and career
Kennan was born in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended St. John's Military Academy in Delafield and arrived at Princeton Universityin the fall of 1921. Unaccustomed to the "elite" East Coast atmosphere of the school, the shy and introverted Kennan found his undergraduate years difficult and lonely but he graduated in 1925.Jennifer Epstein and Jocelyn Hanamirian, [http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2005/03/21/news/12367.shtml "Known worldwide, at home in Princeton"] in "The Daily Princetonian" (March 21, 2005)] Kennan considered applying to law schoolafter graduating, but decided it was too expensive and instead applied for the Foreign Service. He passed the examination, and a year later, he entered the Foreign Service, with early postings taking him to Switzerland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
In 1928, Kennan joined the State Department's Division of Eastern European Affairs, and in 1929 he began a program on history, politics, and the
Russian languageat the University of Berlin's Oriental Institute. From this point on, he would follow in the footsteps of his grandfather's younger cousin, George F. Kennan, for whom he was named, and who was a leading 19th-century expert on Imperial Russiaand author of "Siberia and the Exile System" in 1891. Meanwhile, Kennan mastered a number of languages, including Russian, German, French, Polish, Czech, Portuguese, and Norwegian.
When the U.S. opened diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union in 1933 following the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Kennan accompanied U.S. ambassador
William C. Bullittto Moscow. By the mid-1930s, Kennan was among the core of professionally-trained Russian experts on the staff of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, along with Charles E. Bohlen, and Loy W. Henderson. These officials had been influenced by the long-time head of the State Department's division of East European Affairs, Robert F. Kelley. They believed that there was little basis for cooperation with the Soviet Union, even against potential adversaries. [See John Lewis Gaddis, "Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States: An Interpretive History" (New York:1990), pp. 117–143. ] Meanwhile, Kennan closely followed Stalin's Great Purge, which would profoundly affect his outlook on the internal dynamics of the Soviet regime for the rest of his life.
At the outbreak of the
World War IIin 1939, Kennan was assigned to the embassy in Berlin. He was interned in Germany for six months after the United States entered the war in December 1941. During late 1943 and 1944, he was counsellor of the U.S. delegation to the European Advisory Commission, which worked to prepare Allied policy in Europe.
Kennan and the Cold War
The "long telegram"
Kennan served as deputy head of the U.S. mission in Moscow from July 1944 to April 1946. At the end of that term, Kennan sent a 5,300-word telegram [George Kennan, [http://www.ntanet.net/KENNAN.html "The Long Telegram"] (February 22, 1946)] from Moscow to Secretary of State
James Byrnesoutlining a new strategy on how to handle diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. At the "bottom of the Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs," Kennan argued, "is the traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity." Following the Russian Revolution, this sense of insecurity became mixed with communist ideology and "Oriental secretiveness and conspiracy." [Walter LaFeber, "America, Russia, and the Cold War" (New York: 2002), p. 69. ]
Soviet behavior on the international stage, argued Kennan, depended chiefly on the internal necessities of
Joseph Stalin's regime; according to Kennan, Stalin needed a hostile world in order to legitimize his own autocratic rule. Stalin thus used Marxism-Leninismas
a justification for [the Soviet Union's] instinctive fear of the outside world, for the dictatorship without which they did not know how to rule... for sacrifices they felt bound to demand... Today they cannot dispense it. It is the fig leaf of their moral and intellectual respectability.
The solution, Kennan suggested, was to strengthen Western institutions in order to render them invulnerable to the Soviet challenge while awaiting the eventual mellowing of the Soviet regime. [Kennan, "Memoirs: 1925–1950," pp. 292–295. ]
This dispatch brought Kennan to the attention of Secretary of the Navy
James Forrestal, a leading advocate among Truman's inner circle of a hard-line approach to relations with the Soviets, the United States' former wartime ally. Forrestal helped bring him back to Washington and then strongly influenced his decision to publish the "X" article. [LaFeber, p. 69. ] After returning to Washington, Kennan became the first head of the new State Department policy planning staff, a position that he held from April 1947 through December 1949.
Meanwhile, in March 1947, Truman appeared before Congress and used Kennan's warnings in the "long telegram" as the basis of what became known as the
Truman Doctrine. "I believe," he argued "that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
Unlike the "long telegram," Kennan's well-timed article appearing in the July 1947 issue of "
Foreign Affairs" under the pseudonym "X," entitled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," [George Kennan, [http://www.historyguide.org/europe/kennan.html "The Sources of Soviet Conduct"] (1947)] did not begin by emphasizing 'the traditional Russian sense of insecurity.' [Ibid. ] Instead, it asserted that Stalin's policy was shaped by a combination of Marxist-Leninist ideology, which advocated revolution to defeat the capitalist forces in the outside world, and Stalin's determination to use the notion of "capitalist encirclement" as a fig leaf legitimating his regimentation of Soviet society so that he could consolidate his own political power. Kennan belittled this supposed "encirclement," omitting evidence to the contrary, such as the Allied intervention in Russia between 1918 and 1920 and the U.S. attempt to isolate the Soviets internationally through the 1920s. Kennan argued that Stalin would not (and moreover could not) moderate the supposed Soviet determination to overthrow Western governments. Thus,
the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies... Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and manoeuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence. ["X," "The Sources of Soviet conduct," "Foreign Affairs", XXV (July, 1947), 575–576. ]
The United States would have to undertake this containment alone and unilaterally, but if it could do so without undermining its own economic health and political stability, the Soviet party structure would undergo a period of immense strain eventually resulting in "either the break-up or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power." [Ibid., p. 566–582. ]
The publication of the "X" article soon triggered one of the more intense debates of the Cold War.
Walter Lippmann, a leading U.S. journalist and commentator on international affairs, who favored proposals of disengagement in Germany, strongly criticized the "X" article. [LaFeber, p. 70–71. ] Meanwhile, word soon leaked out that "X" was indeed Kennan, who had recently become head of the State Department's new Policy Planning Staff. This information effectively gave the "X" article the status of an official document expressing the Truman administration's new policy toward Moscow.
However, Kennan had not intended the "X" article as a comprehensive prescription for future policy. For the rest of his life, Kennan continued to reiterate that the article did not imply an automatic commitment to resist Soviet 'expansionism' wherever it occurred, with little distinction of primary and secondary interests. In addition, the article did not make it clear that Kennan favored employing political and economic rather than military methods as the chief agent of containment. [For Kennan's own critique of the "X" article, and an account of the circumstances surrounding its publication, see "Memoirs: 1925–1950," pp. 354–367. ] "My thoughts about containment" wrote Kennan, "were of course distorted by the people who understood it and pursued it exclusively as a military concept; and I think that that, as much as any other cause, led to [the] 40 years of unnecessary, fearfully expensive and disoriented process of the Cold War."
In addition, the administration made few attempts to explain the distinction between Soviet influence and the international Communist movement to the U.S. public. "In part, this failure reflected the belief of many in Washington," writes historian
John Lewis Gaddis"that only the prospect of an undifferentiated global threat could shake Americans out of their isolationist tendencies that remained latent among them." [Gaddis, p. 200. ]
Kennan was asked about the misunderstanding of the "X" article in a television interview with
David Gergenas recently as the mid-1990s. He again reiterated that he did not regard the Soviets as primarily a military threat. "They were not like Hitler," noted Kennan. In Kennan's view, this misunderstanding
all came down to one sentence in the "X" Article where I said that wherever these people, meaning the Soviet leadership, confronted us with dangerous hostility anywhere in the world, we should do everything possible to contain it and not let them expand any further. I should have explained that I didn't suspect them of any desire to launch an attack on us. This was right after the war, and it was absurd to suppose that they were going to turn around and attack the United States. I didn't think I needed to explain that, but I obviously should have done it. [ [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/gergen/kennan.html "Online NewsHour: George Kennan"] in PBS (April 18, 1996)]
Kennan and his associates on the policy planning staff hoped to bring about a split between the Soviet Union and the world Communist movement. In time, he thought that two opposing blocs might develop in the Communist world—one dominated by the Soviet Union, the other comprising Communists who rejected Moscow's leadership. In turn, this would help make possible the peaceful withdrawal of U.S. and Soviet forces from the positions that they had been occupying since the end of the Second World War. However, the demilitarization and neutralization of Europe would never materialize; and in time, Kennan would come to lament the association of the policy he had seemingly helped inspire with the arms build-up of the Cold War.
For Kennan personally, the "X" article meant sudden fame, which also affected his family. His oldest daughter Grace, for example, recalls fellow students calling her "Miss X" in college. "He went from a normal, nice father to the father who wrote the X article," recalls Grace. "It was a big shock to discover that my dad, who had been just my dad, suddenly became public property."
Influence under Marshall
Between April 1947 and December 1948, when
George C. Marshallwas Secretary of State, Kennan was more influential than at any other period in his career. Marshall valued his strategic vision, and had him create and head what is now called the Policy Planning Staff, the State Department's internal think tank. Kennan became the first Director of Policy Planning. Marshall relied heavily on him, along with other members of his staff, to prepare policy recommendations. [See Wilson D. Miscamble. "George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947–1950." (Princeton, N.J.: 1992). ]
As an intellectual architect of the
Marshall Plan, Kennan helped launch the pillar of economic and political containment of the Soviet Union. Although Kennan regarded the Soviet Union as too weak to risk war, he nevertheless considered it an enemy capable of expanding into Western Europe through subversion, given the popular support for Moscow-controlled Communist Parties in Western Europe, which remained demoralized by the devastation of the Second World War. To counter this potential source of Soviet influence, Kennan's solution was to direct economic aid and covert political help to Japan and Western Europe in order to revive Western governments and prop up international capitalism. By doing so, the U.S. would help to rebuild the balance of power. In addition, in June 1948, Kennan proposed covert support of leftwing parties not oriented toward Moscow and to labor unions in Western Europe in order to engineer a rift between Moscow and working class movements in Western Europe. [Gaddis, p. 199. ]
As the U.S. was launching the Marshall Plan, Kennan and the Truman administration hoped that the Soviet Union's rejection of the Marshall aid would place strains on its relations with its Communist allies in Eastern Europe. [Ibid. ] Meanwhile, Kennan was proposing a series of efforts to exploit the schism between Moscow and
Tito's Yugoslavia. Kennan proposed conducting covert action in the Balkans aimed at further eroding Moscow's influence. [See NSC 10/2, "National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects," June 18, 1948, in Etzold and Gaddis, eds., "Containment", pp. 125–128; also Gaddis, "The Long Peace", pp. 159–1960; George Kennan, "Memoirs: 1950–1963" (Boston: 1972), pp. 202–203.; and, for details on an operation against the Communist government of Albania see Nicholas Bethell, "Betrayed" (New York:1984). ]
The administration's new vigorously anti-Soviet policy also became evident when, at Kennan's suggestion, the U.S. changed its long-standing hostility to
Francisco Franco's fascist regime in Spain in order to secure U.S. influence in the Mediterranean. Kennan had observed in 1947 that the Truman Doctrine implied a new view of Franco. His suggestion heralded the turn in U.S.-Spanish relations, which ended in close military cooperation after 1950. [James Forrestal, "The Forrestal Diaries", Walter Millis, ed. (New York, 1951), p. 328. ]
Differences with Acheson
Kennan's influence rapidly declined under Secretary of State
Dean Acheson, the successor of the ailing George Marshall, in 1949 and 1950. [See Wilson D. Miscamble. "George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947–1950." (Princeton, N.J.: 1992). ] Acheson did not regard the Soviet 'threat' as chiefly political, and he saw the Berlin blockadestarting in June 1948, the first Soviet test of a nuclear weapon in August 1949, the Communist revolution in China a month later, and the beginning of the Korean Warin June 1950 as evidence of his view. Moreover, as Secretary of State during the months when Chiang Kai-shekfinally lost control of China, Acheson became the target of a growing lobby of Chiang's supporters known as the "China Lobby" and Congressional Republicans charging the Truman administration with having "lost China" and was in the position of addressing domestic political pressure. Consequently, Truman and Acheson decided to delineate the Western sphere of influence and to create a system of alliances backed by conventional and nuclear weapons.
This policy was articulated by
NSC-68, a classified report issued by the United States National Security Council in April 1950 and written by Paul Nitze. Kennan, along with Charles Bohlen, another State Department expert on Russia, fought over the wording of NSC-68, which emerged as the effective blueprint for waging the Cold War. Kennan rejected the idea that Stalin had a grand design for world conquest implicit in Nitze's report, and argued that he actually feared overextending Russian power. Kennan even argued that NSC-68 should not have been drafted at all, as it would make U.S. policies too rigid, simplistic, and militaristic. [LaFeber, p. 93. ] Determined to silence critics at home, Acheson overruled Kennan and Bohlen, backing up the view of the Soviet menace that underpinned NSC-68.
Meanwhile, Kennan opposed the building of the hydrogen bomb, and the rearmament of Germany, which were all policies backed up by the assumptions of NSC-68. Moreover, during the
Korean War(which began when North Koreainvaded South Korea in June 1950), when rumors started circulating in the State Department that plans were being made to advance beyond the 38th parallel into North Korea, a move that Kennan considered highly dangerous, he engaged in intense arguments with Assistant Secretary of State for the Far East Dean Rusk, who apparently supported Acheson's goal to forcibly unite the Koreas.
Kennan lost influence with Acheson, who in any case relied much less on his staff than Marshall had. Kennan resigned as director of policy planning in December 1949, but stayed in the department as counselor. Acheson replaced Kennan with Nitze in January 1950, who was far more comfortable with the calculus of military power. Afterwards, Kennan accepted an appointment as Visitor to the
Institute for Advanced Studyfrom fellow moderate Robert Oppenheimer, then Director of the Institute.
Despite his influence, Kennan was never really comfortable in government. He always regarded himself as an outsider, and had little patience with critics.
W. Averell Harriman, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow when Kennan was deputy between 1944 and 1946, remarked that Mr. Kennan was "a man who understood Russia but not the United States." [Washington Post, "Outsider Forged Cold War Strategy" (March 18, 2005) ]
Ambassador to the Soviet Union
On December 21, 1951, President Truman announced the nomination of George Kennan to be the next United States ambassador to the Soviet Union. His appointment easily sailed through the Senate.
At the time U.S.-Soviet tensions had moved beyond the point at which diplomacy could play a significant role. In many measures to Kennan's consternation, the priorities of the administration focused more on solidifying alignments against the Soviets than negotiating differences with them. [Gaddis, p. 211. ] "So far as I could see, we were expecting to be able to gain our objectives… without making any concessions thought, only 'if we were really all-powerful, and could hope to get away with it'. I very much doubted that this was the case." [Kennan, "Memoirs: 1950–1963," pp. 107–110. ]
At Moscow, Kennan found the atmosphere even more regimented than on his previous trips, with police guards following him everywhere, discouraging contact with Soviet citizens. [Ibid., pp. 112–134. ] At the time, Soviet propaganda charged the U.S. with preparing for future war, which Kennan did not wholly dismiss. "I began to ask myself whether... we had not contributed... by the over militarization of our policies and statements… to a belief in Moscow that it was war we were after." [Ibid., pp. 112–134. ]
In September 1952, Kennan made a misstatement that cost him his ambassadorship. In answer to a question at a press conference, Kennan compared his conditions at the ambassador's residence in Moscow to those he had encountered while interned in Berlin during the first few months of the Second World War. While his statement was not unfounded, the Soviets took it as an implied analogy with
Nazi Germany. The Soviets then declared Kennan "persona non grata" and refused to allow him to re-enter the Soviet Union. Kennan acknowledged in retrospect that it was a "foolish thing for me to have said." [Ibid, p. 159 ]
Kennan and the Eisenhower administration
Kennan returned to Washington where he soon became embroiled in strong disagreements with
Dwight D. Eisenhower's hawkish secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. Even so, he was able to work constructively with the new administration. In the summer of 1953, for example, President Eisenhower asked Kennan to chair the first of a series of top-secret teams, dubbed Operation Solarium, examining the advantages and disadvantages of continuing the Truman administration's approach of containment, and of seeking to "roll back" existing areas of Soviet influence. Upon completion of the project, the president appeared to endorse the group's recommendations. [Gaddis, p. 218. ] By lending his prestige to Kennan's position, the president tacitly signalled his intention to formulate the strategy of his administration within the framework of its predecessor's, despite the misgivings of some within the Republican Party. [Ibid. p. 218–219. ] The critical difference between the Truman and Eisenhower approaches to containment, however, had to do with Eisenhower's concerns that the U.S. could not sustain high military expenditures over long periods of time. [Ibid., p. 219 ] The new president thus sought to minimize costs not by acting whenever and wherever the Soviets acted (a strategy designed to avoid risk), but rather whenever and wherever the U.S. could afford to act.
Ambassador to Yugoslavia
Kennan returned to government service in the Kennedy administration, serving as ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1961–1963. Another brief stint of service occurred in 1967, when he was assigned to meet
Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, in Switzerland and helped persuade her to come to the United States.
Career at the Institute for Advanced Study
After the end of his brief ambassadorial post in Yugoslavia in 1963, Kennan spent the rest of his life in academia, becoming a leading realist critic of U.S. foreign policy. Having spent 18 months as a scholar at the
Institute for Advanced Studybetween 1950 and 1952, Kennan permanently joined the faculty in 1956. During his career there, Kennan wrote seventeen books and scores of articles on international relations. [Matthew Hersh, [http://www.towntopics.com/mar2305/story1.html "Known worldwide, at home in Princeton"] in "Town Topics" (March 23, 2005)] He won the Pulitzer Prizefor history and a National Book Award for "Russia Leaves the War," published in 1956. He again won a Pulitzer in 1967 for "Memoirs, 1925–1950." A second volume, taking his reminiscences up to 1963, appeared in 1972. Among his other works were "American Diplomacy 1900–1950", "Sketches from a Life," published in 1989, and "Around the Cragged Hill" in 1993.
His properly historical works amount to a six-volume account of the relations between Russia (whether the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union) and the West from 1875 to his own time. He was chiefly concerned with:
*the folly of the
First World Waras a choice of policy; he argues that the costs of modern war, direct and indirect, predictably exceeded the benefits of removing the Hohenzollerns.
*the ineffectiveness of summit diplomacy, with the
Conference of Versaillesas a type-case. National leaders have, and had, too much to do to give any single matter the constant and flexible attention which diplomatic problems require.
*The Allied intervention in Russia of 1918–19. He was indignant with Soviet accounts of a vast capitalist conspiracy against the world's first worker's state, some of which do not even mention the World War; he was equally indignant with the decision to intervene, as costly, harmful, and counterproductive. He argues that the interventions may in fact, by arousing Russian nationalism, have ensured the survival of the Bolshevik state.
Kennan's historical writings, and his memoirs, lament in great detail the failings of democratic foreign policymakers and those of the United States in particular. According to Kennan, when American policymakers suddenly confronted the Cold War, they had inherited little more than rationale and rhetoric "utopian in expectations, legalistic in concept, moralistic in [the] demand it seemed to place on others, and self-righteous in the degree of high-mindedness and rectitude... to ourselves." [George Kennan, "Memoirs, 1950–1963" (1972), pp. 70–71. ] The source of the problem, according to Kennan, is the force of public opinion, a force that is inevitably unstable, unserious, subjective, emotional, and simplistic. As a result, Kennan has insisted that the U.S. public can only be united behind a foreign policy goal on the "primitive level of slogans and jingoistic ideological inspiration." [George Urban, "From Containment to Self-Containment: A conversation with George Kennan," "Encounter" (September 1976), p. 17. ]
Containment, to George Kennan in 1967, when he published the first volume of his memoirs, involved something other than the use of military "counterforce." He was never pleased that the policy he influenced was associated with the arms build-up of the Cold War. In his memoirs, Kennan argued that containment did not demand a militarized U.S. foreign policy. Instead, "counterforce" implied the political and economic defense of Western Europe against the disruptive effect of the war on European society. Exhausted by war, the Soviet Union was no serious military threat to the United States or its allies at the beginning of the Cold War, Kennan argued, but rather a strong ideological and political rival.
In the 1960s, Kennan criticized U.S. involvement in Indochina, arguing that the United States had little vital interest in the region. In Kennan's view, the Soviet Union, Britain, Germany, Japan, and North America remained the arenas of vital U.S. interests. In 1966 testimony before the
Senate Foreign Relations Committeehe characterized the Viet Congas "ruthless fanatics", but insisted that "our country should not be asked, and should not ask of itself, to shoulder the main burden of determining the political realities in any other country, and particularly not in one remote from our shores, from our culture, and from the experience of our people." [Girvetz, Harry K. (editor), "Contemporary Moral Issues", Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1968, p. 10.]
In the 1970s and 1980s, he emerged as a leading critic of the renewed arms race as
détentewas breaking down. In 1982 Kennan was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclicalletter by Pope John XXIIIthat calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terrisis Latinfor 'Peace on Earth.'
Several years after
Mikhail Gorbachevhad come to power, Kennan was asked in a television interview how so unconventional a Soviet leader could have risen to the top of a system that placed a high premium on conformity. Kennan's response was candid, reflecting the general perplexity of the U.S. diplomatic establishment: "I really cannot explain it." [Kennan television interview, MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, December 21, 1988, PBS ]
In 1989, President
George H.W. Bushawarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Yet, he remained a realist critic of recent U.S. presidents, urging, in particular, the U.S. government to "withdraw from its public advocacy of democracy and human rights." "This whole tendency to see ourselves as the center of political enlightenment and as teachers to a great part of the rest of the world strikes me as unthought-through, vainglorious and undesirable," he said in an interview with the " New York Review of Books" in 1999. "I would like to see our government gradually withdraw from its public advocacy of democracy and human rights. I submit that governments should deal with other governments as such, and should avoid unnecessary involvement, particularly personal involvement, with their leaders." These ideas were particularly applicable, he said, to U.S. relations with China and Russia. Kennan opposed the Clinton administration's war in Kosovoas well as its expansion of NATO(the establishment of which he had also opposed half a century earlier), expressing fears that both policies would worsen relations with Russia. He described NATO enlargement as a "strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions." [Talbott, Strobe, "The Russia Hand" (2002), pp. 220
Kennan remained vigorous and alert in the last years of his life, although arthritis had him confined to a wheelchair. In his later years, Kennan concluded that "the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union." At age 98, he warned of the unforeseen consequences of waging war against Iraq. He warned that launching an attack on Iraq would amount to waging a second war that "bears no relation to the first war against terrorism" and declared efforts by the Bush administration to link
al Qaedawith Saddam Hussein"pathetically unsupportive and unreliable." Kennan went on to warn:
In February 2004, scholars, diplomats, and Princeton alumni gathered at the university's campus to celebrate George Kennan's 100th birthday. Secretary of State
Colin Powellled off the events. Powell extolled Kennan's prediction of the demise of the Soviet Union, made at the peak of its power, calling his prediction "no lucky guess, but a manifestation of genuine wisdom." Kennan met privately with Powell after the celebration.
Kennan died on March 17, 2005 at age 101 at his home in Princeton. He is survived by his wife, Annelise, whom he married in 1931. They had three daughters and a son. Following his death, his four children gathered in his home with Annelise. "It was his enormous curiosity that kept him alive so long," said Grace Kennan. "He had an enormous interest in the world, and I remember, even toward the end, he would get so angry at the paper, angry at the TV."
John Lewis Gaddis, along with Michael Hoganand Melvyn Leffler, has helped establish a positive image of Kennan's vision of containment, a strategy he calls "strongpoint containment." [See John Lewis Gaddis, "Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (1982) ] In this view, Kennan called on the U.S. to use economic aid and covert action to shore up the balance of power in the strategically important industrialized nations of Western Europe and Japan. By doing so, the U.S. could create a balance of power that would contain Soviet influence and leave it to decline in isolation from the rest of the world. Gaddis has distinguished Kennan's approach from the less workable policy of "global containment", which Truman, Acheson, Eisenhower, and Dulles later adopted. Global containment, in contrast to strongpoint containment, drew the U.S. into unnecessary Third World conflicts and into an arms race with the Soviet Union. Jack F. Matlock credits Kennan with accurately predicting the end of Communist rule in the Soviet Union through internal contradictions rather than outside pressure. [ [http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?event_id=215724&fuseaction=events.event_summary Reflections on George F. Kennan: Scholar and Policymaker] Woodrow Wilson Center (February 8, 2007)]
Other Cold War scholars, particularly
Walter L. Hixson, disagree with this dovelike image. [See Walter L. Hixson, "George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast (1989) ] They argue that Kennan was an anticommunist whose work between 1946 and 1948 contributed to U.S. hegemonist strategy rather than a balance of power. Irrespective of Kennan's attempts to clarify the "Mr. X" piece after its publication, his definition of strongpoint containment is seen to have been so broad in the key, early years of the Cold War that it resulted in global containment. Anders Stephansonjoins Hixson among Kennan's critics, arguing that, regardless his plans for "disengagement" in later years, Kennan's advice during the period 1945–1948 made a neutral, disarmed Germany impossible, thereby helping to lay the foundation for a Europe divided between the two blocs. [See Anders Stephanson, "Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy" (1989) ]
Kennan's commitment to freedom of action of the United States government, rather than the freedom in the sense of democracy, has been criticised by
Noam Chomsky, who noted Kennan's advice that we (i.e., the U.S.) should "'cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization' and must 'deal in straight power concepts,' not 'hampered by idealistic slogans' about 'altruism and world-benefaction.'" [See Noam Chomsky, "Profit Over People" (1999) ] A recent biographer chronicles Kennan's "baffling" appreciation of Europe's dictatorships: Mussolini's in Italy, Dollfuss's in Austria, Salazar's in Portugal; Kennan believed that "their kind of authoritarian government was a healthy and welcome alternative to inefficient parliamentary democracy." [ [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118368468496158722.html?mod=googlenews_wsj John Lukacs, "George Kennan", reviewed by Josef Joffe, Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2007] ]
* "American Diplomacy, 1900–1950" (1951) ISBN 0-226-43147-9
* "Realities of American Foreign Policy" (1954) ISBN 0-393-00320-5
Russia Leaves the War" (1956) ISBN 0-691-00847-7
* "The Decision to Intervene" (1958) ISBN 0-393-30217-2
* "Russia, the Atom, and the West" (1958)
* "Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1941 " (1960) ISBN 0-442-00047-2
* "Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin" (1961) ISBN 0-316-48849-6
* "Memoirs, 1925–1950" (1967) ISBN 0-394-71624-8
* "From Prague after Munich: Diplomatic Papers, 1938–1940" (1968) ISBN 0-691-05620-X
Marquis de Custine& His "Russia in 1839" (1971) ISBN 0-691-05187-9
* "Memoirs, 1950–1963" (1972) ISBN 0-394-71626-4
* "Cloud of Danger" (1978) ISBN 0-09-132140-9
* "The Decline of Bismarck's European Order: Franco-Russian Relations, 1875–1890" (1979) ISBN 0-691-05282-4
* "The Nuclear Delusion: Soviet-American Relations in the Atomic Age" (1982) ISBN 0-394-52946-4
* "The Fateful Alliance: France, Russia, and the Coming of the First World War" (1984) ISBN 0-394-72231-0
* "Sketches from a Life" (1989) ISBN 0-394-57504-0
* "Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy" (1993) ISBN 0-393-31145-7
* "At a Century's Ending: Reflections 1982–1995" (1996) ISBN 0-393-31609-2
* "An American Family: The Kennans—The First Three Generations" (2000) ISBN 0-393-05034-3
Nicholas Bethell, "Betrayed" (New York: 1984)
*James Forrestal, "The Forrestal Diaries", Walter Millis, ed. (New York, 1951)
*John Lewis Gaddis, "Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States: An Interpretive History" (New York:1990)
John Lewis Gaddis, "Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (1982)
*Walter L. Hixson, "George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast (1989)
*George Kennan, "Memoirs: 1925–1950" (1967)
*George Kennan, "Memoirs: 1950–1963" (Boston: 1972)
*George Kennan television interview, MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, December 21, 1988, PBS
Walter LaFeber, "America, Russia, and the Cold War" (New York: 2002)
*Wilson D. Miscamble. "George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947–1950." (Princeton, N.J.: 1992)
*NSC 10/2, "National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects," June 18, 1948, in Etzold and Gaddis, eds., "Containment", pp. 125–128
*Anders Stephanson, "Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy" (1989)
Strobe Talbott, "The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy", Random House: New York, 2002.
*George Urban, "From Containment to Self-Containment: A conversation with George Kennan," "Encounter" (September 1976)
*"Washington Post", "Outsider Forged Cold War Strategy" (March 18, 2005)
*"X," "The Sources of Soviet conduct," "Foreign Affairs", XXV (July, 1947)
John Lukacs(editor with the introduction) "George F. Kennan and the Origins of Containment, 1944–1946 : the Kennan-Lukacs Correspondence", (Columbia, Mo. : University of Missouri Press, 1997).
*Wilson D. Miscamble, [http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/archives_roll/2004_04-06/miscamble_kennan/miscamble_kennan.html "George Kennan: A Life in the Foreign service,"] "Foreign Service Journal", vol. 81, no. 2, February 2004. [http://www.afsa.org/fsj/feb04/miscamble.pdf Alternative link.]
*Kennan, George F., "American Diplomacy", The University of Chicago Press. 1984. ISBN 0-226-43147-9
Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, named for Kennan's older cousin, George Kennan
* [http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2005/03/21/news/12367.shtml Obituary] from the "
The Daily Princetonian"
* [http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/mar05/310688.asp Obituary] from the "
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/18/politics/18kennan.html Obituary] from the "
New York Times"
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45242-2005Mar17.html Obituary] from the "
* [http://economist.com/people/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3786321 Obituary] from "
* [http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/www/Chronicles/2005/May2005/0505Lukacs.html Obituary] by
John Lukacsin "Chronicles"
* [http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0321/p09s03-cods.html Commentary on "Kennan's profound global effect"] from the "
Christian Science Monitor"
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52533-2005Mar20.html Commentary on "The Paradox of George F. Kennan"] by
Richard Holbrookein the "Washington Post"
* [http://www.counterpunch.org/werther03212005.html "The Legacy of George F. Kennan"] in "Counterpunch""Other resources:"
* [http://www.foreignaffairs.org/background/kennan Collection of all of Kennan's articles published] in "
* [http://www.traces.org/georgefkennan.html Traces.org biography]
* [http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/kennan/ CNN profile]
* [http://www.usip.org/events/2006/0504_leffler_projectreport.html Remembering George Kennan: Lessons for Today?]
U.S. Institute of PeaceMay 2006 (Audio available)
* [http://itsmc.com/rpilkington/9-11-remembered.html 9-11: Prescient Memorabilia]
NAME = Kennan, George Frost
ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American advisor, diplomat, political scientist and historian
DATE OF BIRTH = February 16, 1904
PLACE OF BIRTH =
DATE OF DEATH = March 17, 2005
PLACE OF DEATH =
Princeton, New Jersey
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
George Frost Kennan — George F. Kennan, 1940er George Frost Kennan (* 16. Februar 1904 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; † 17. März 2005 in Princeton, New Jersey) war Historiker und einer der bedeutendsten Diplomaten der USA. Sein Name ist … Deutsch Wikipedia
George F. Kennan — George F. Kennan, 1940er George Frost Kennan (* 16. Februar 1904 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; † 17. März 2005 in Princeton, New Jersey) war Historiker und einer der bedeutendsten Diplomaten der USA. Sein Name ist verbunden mit d … Deutsch Wikipedia
George F. Kennan — en 1947 George Frost Kennan, né à Milwaukee (Wisconsin) le 16 février 1904 et mort à Princeton (New Jersey) le 17 mars 2005, est un diplomate, polit … Wikipédia en Français
George F. Kennan — George Frost Kennan (16 de febrero de 1904 – 17 de marzo de 2005) fue un diplomático y consejero gubernamental norteamericano, autor de la doctrina de la contención y figura clave de la Guerra Fría. Escribió varias obras de importancia acerca de… … Wikipedia Español
George F. Kennan — noun United States diplomat who recommended a policy of containment in dealing with Soviet aggression (1904 2005) • Syn: ↑Kennan, ↑George Frost Kennan • Hypernyms: ↑diplomat, ↑diplomatist … Useful english dictionary
George Frost Kennan — noun United States diplomat who recommended a policy of containment in dealing with Soviet aggression (1904 2005) • Syn: ↑Kennan, ↑George F. Kennan • Hypernyms: ↑diplomat, ↑diplomatist … Useful english dictionary
George Kennan — George F. Kennan George F. Kennan en 1947 George Frost Kennan, né à Milwaukee (Wisconsin) le 16 février 1904 et mort à Princeton (New Jersey) le 17 mars 2005, est un … Wikipédia en Français
George Kennan (explorer) — George Kennan (February 16, 1845 ndash; 1924) was an American explorer noted for his travels in the Kamchatka and Caucasus regions of Russia. He was diplomat and historian George F. Kennan s cousin twice removed, with whom he shared his… … Wikipedia
Kennan — may have the following meanings:;Surname:* Elizabeth Topham Kennan * George Kennan (explorer) (1845–1924), American explorer of Russia and an early Russia Expert * George F. Kennan (1904–2005), member of the United States Foreign Service and… … Wikipedia
George A. Smathers — George Smathers. George Armistead Smathers (* 14. November 1913 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; † 20. Januar 2007 in Miami Beach, Florida) war ein US amerikanischer Jurist und Politiker. Zweimal – 1946 und 1948 wurde er als Abgeordneter der … Deutsch Wikipedia