George Kennan, 1904-2005



Philadelphia Inquirer: George F. Kennan, often inaccurately called the "architect" of the Cold War, was one of the most eloquent and influential minds of his generation. Kennan sustained U.S. foreign policy for more than 40 years by being one of the finest writers ever to work for our government. He died Thursday at his home in Princeton at 101.
Kennan was the architect of "containment" -- his word for the proper goal of U.S. efforts against its then-nuclear archrival, the Soviet Union. We should hedge them in, he felt, make it hard for them to enlarge their circle of influence.
Kennan entered the diplomatic corps in 1925. In February 1946, while at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, he sent the famous "long telegram" to Washington outlining his views of the Soviet Union. The next year, in a sweeping essay in the journal Foreign Policy, which he wrote as "X," he broached his notion of containment. He argued that it was through ideas and policy, not war, that America could best halt communism. Yet he was no knee-jerk pacifist: He famously wrote that the Soviet Union understood the logic of force better than the logic of reason.
Ambassador to Russia
Tensions with Secretary of State Dean Acheson led him to leave government in 1950 to work at Princeton. Called back to be ambassador to Russia, he was declared persona non grata there and left in 1953. He returned to government service in the Kennedy administration and was ambassador to Yugoslavia. He came to oppose the war in Vietnam, and to view the arms race as a threat to all sides.
In 1957, Kennan won the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for "Russia Leaves the War." In 1967, the first volume of his Memoirs also won a Pulitzer. For anyone interested in the complexities and anxieties of the mid-20th-century world, his memoirs are indispensable reading.