George Kennan died yesterday at the age of 101. Kennan was the intellectual architect of the Cold War policy of containment that he set forth in his historic 1947 Foreign Affairs article under the pseudonym “X”: “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” (See the State Department’s comment on Kennan’s article here.) Kennan spent much of the rest of his life disclaiming the policy as a misinterpretation of what he had written. In 1950, the authors of the key statement of the policy of containment — NSC-68 — followed in the footsteps of Kennan’s “X” article.
The New York Times obituary quotes Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis, Kennan’s authorized biographer: “He’ll be remembered as a diplomatist and a grand strategist of the cold war. But he saw himself as a literary figure. He would have loved to have been a poet, a novelist.” RIP.
UPDATE (by Deacon): Trunk scooped me on this one, but I hope that my contribution added value. Kennan wrote a memoir that had enough literary merit to be turned into a play. I saw it performed at the Kennedy Center here in Washington. Kennan wrote the book when he was in his 80s and it reflected a fair amount of disdain for the U.S.
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