Friday, March 18, 2005

George Kennan Dies At 101

There are journalists and then there are great historic writers. There are polemicists and then there are diplomats. George F. Kennan was both a great historian and a diplomat. As the man who designed the winning strategy in the Cold War, he was one of the greatest.

The U.S. owes Kennan every medal it can devise. Some know how to win wars, but Kennan knew how to wage great victorious struggles without war. As the originator of the containment strategy against the Soviet Union, he showed how we could defeat the Russian dictatorship without great bloodshed on either side.

In Kennan's "Long Telegram" sent home from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1946, he contended that while Soviet power was "impervious to the logic of reason," it was "highly sensitive to the logic of force," and the effective threat of force would send Stalinist Russia into retreat.

Writing as Mr. X in the journal Foreign Affairs the following year, he stated, "Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigorous application of counterforce." That force should be exerted through diplomacy and covert action, not war.

Following that policy, when it was followed, led us to victory.

So read the obituaries. Honor the man who through his intellectual power gave us success.


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