Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A note on Kennan

Barton Gellman writes an op-ed for the WaPo on George F. Kennan that reminded me how much I disliked the guy. Although I think Gellman is meaning to praise Kennan (note the title of his piece), his piece has the opposite effect as far as I’m concerned. Kennan was not the sort of man who should play a central role in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. The good news is that hard-heads like Acheson and Truman knew this and got rid of him. His influence on foreign policy by the late ’40’s was non-existent. Kennan turned out to be the mouthpiece for the Left.

Note this:

Kennan’s containment was not a military endeavor. In lectures at the National War College, he spoke not of "counterforce" but "counterpressure." Containment’s primary instruments, as Kennan saw them, were political and economic. As early as 1948, he took vehement exception to the creation of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, predicting that it would cement the division of Europe into opposing military blocs. He bitterly opposed development of the hydrogen bomb, which multiplied the destructive power of atomic weaponry. And he despised the Truman Doctrine, which called for military support to governments threatened by communist insurrection, liberally defined, anywhere in the world. Later he became an early critic of the Vietnam War, called for abolition of nuclear weapons and disparaged President Bush’s war in Iraq.

Read the whole thing and take special note of the last paragraph, wherein Kennan is quoted at length.

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