18 March 2005

Cold warrior

George F. Kennan
Winner of the Cold War

I learn from Ezra Klein that we just lost Kennan. I hadn't realized that he was still alive.

I'd been thinking about finding something good about him and linking it here --- I was kvetching earlier today about Republicans repeatedly claiming that Reagan won the Cold War. It wasn't Reagan. It was Kennan. Ezra Klien summed it up nicely.

Historically astute readers will know his as the author of the "containment" doctrine, which essentially guided our foreign policy through the Cold War.
But wait: there's more.
What most won't know, what I didn't know, is that Kennan felt his strategy significantly overapplied. As he conceived of it, containment was meant to protect a few spots of great national interest, not become a global policy to plug socialism wherever it uncorked. If we'd followed him, then, there would have been no Vietnam, no Bay of Pigs, fewer national embarrassments.
I didn't know that either. An even bigger hero than I thought. Though I'm sorry that this should be the occasion that they should publish the "something good about him," the Los Angeles Times have an obit for him. And Daniel Drezner has some interesting observations as well.

More of my obits

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