Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, March 18, 2005

George Kennan Dies at 101

Most of the regular posters and viewers on this blog are familiar with George Kennan. But for some new visitors he may be relatively unknown. That probably explains why the top story on CNN.com was about Teri Shiavo and there was no mention on their front page about Kennan's passing (I guess the theme from Love Story doesn't fit a photo montage of the 101 year old Kennan). BBC.com however has a report on the life of the accomplished diplomat, academic and two time Pulitzer Prize winner (Hurray for the BBC! May there always be an England!). NPR is also reporting on this - but they lead with the Shiavo nonsense.

Kennan began his career as a foreign service officer. While stationed in the Soviet Union in 1947, he wrote the famous "long telegram" (this was before fax machines and email). In it Kennan lays out a detailed vision of what the Soviet Union thinks its role in the world is and what the American response should be.

Kennan is associated with Realism but he played a major role in the very un-realist Marshall Plan. Kennan was an architect of the Containment doctrine as well. I would really REALLY urge Dr. Von Brawn to share his views on the late George Kennan with us on the blog!

2 comments:

US West said...

I guarantee you that the Economist will do a great Obit page in next week's issue.

US West said...

I took some time to read the Long Telegram. There are parts of it that can be applied to the Bush Administration. This shouldn't come as a surprise since this Administration follows a realist paradigm. And perhaps, at a certain point, all states fall victim to their own evolution.

Among the most relevant parts are Kennan's observation in Part 2 that it is hard to find anyone in the Soviet leadership who receives accurate, unbiased information. He observes a disturbing level of purposeful self-delusion in the government and the lack of belief in any objective truth. "There is good reason to suspect that this Government is actually a conspiracy within a conspiracy; and I for one am reluctant to believe that Stalin himself receives anything like an objective picture of the outside world." Considering Bush's European tour where there were highly choreographed visits far from the view of protestors. I am thinking particularly of the deserted downtown of Mainz. I think the parallels are clear. Consider the Administration's organizing of "Town halls" where participates are called in to "practice" the night before his appearance and anyone who deviates is removed from the hall. Bush lives in a protective glass bubble.

In Part 3, Kennan explains that the USSR sees the UN as simply another theater in which to pursue its strategic goals. It will cooperate with the UN only when convenient. "This would imply, however, that they felt themselves strong enough to split [the] unity of other nations by their withdrawal to render UNO [sic] ineffective as a trheat to their aims or security, replace it with an international weapon more effective from their viewpoint." He later says, "I reiterate, Moscow has no abstrace devotion to UNO [sic] ideals. Its attitude to that organization will remain essentially pragmatic and tactical."

I could go on. But you all get the idea. It looks like Bush has managed to put his MBA to good use after all.