George F. Kennan

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George F. Kennan, "the American diplomat who did more than any other envoy of his generation to shape United States policy during the cold war, died [in 2005]... He was 101...

"As the State Department's first policy planning chief in the late 1940's, serving Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Mr. Kennan was an intellectual architect of the Marshall Plan, which sent billions of dollars of American aid to nations devastated by World War II. At the same time, he conceived a secret "political warfare" unit that aimed to roll back Communism, not merely contain it. His brainchild became the covert-operations directorate of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Though Mr. Kennan left the foreign service more than half a century ago, he continued to be a leading thinker in international affairs until his death. Since the 1950's he had been associated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was most recently a professor emeritus...

"The force of Mr. Kennan's ideas brought him to power in Washington in the brief months after World War II ended and before the cold war began. In February 1946, as the second-ranking diplomat in the American Embassy in Moscow, he dispatched his famous "Long Telegram" to Washington, perhaps the best-known cable in American diplomatic history. It explained to policy makers baffled by Stalin that while Soviet power was "impervious to the logic of reason," it was "highly sensitive to the logic of force."

"Widely circulated in Washington, the Long Telegram made Mr. Kennan famous. It evolved into an even better-known work, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," which Mr. Kennan published under the anonymous byline "X" in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations. "Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigorous application of counterforce," he wrote. That force, Kennan believed, should take the form of diplomacy and covert action, not war." [1]

F. William Engdahl (2008) writes that “State Department planning head, George F. Kennan wrote in a confidential internal memo in 1948, ‘We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.’”


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  1. George F. Kennan Dies at 101; Leading Strategist of Cold War, New York Times, accessed January 24, 2008.