George Kennan

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George F. Kennan was a well-known United States diplomat, authority on Soviet thinking, and head of the Policy Planning Staff of the United States Department of State. He is best known for his contributions to the post-WWII containment policy towards the Soviet Union, which became, although often misinterpreted, one of the basic doctrines of the Western position in the Cold War.

The Long Telegram and the X Article

While serving as the charge d'affaires (acting head) of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, he submitted what has become known as the "Long Telegram" [1]. This caused much discussion in government circles, and Kennan, in 1947, wrote an article for the influential journal, Foreign Affairs, under the pseudonym "X". What became known as the "X Article", titled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct".[2]

The "X article" introduced the concept that Soviet policy was one of expansionism, which needed to be "contained" rather than confronted militarily; containment was at the level of military doctrine#Grand strategy | grand strategy, involving all the aspects of national power, from diplomacy to economics to official statements (i.e., "white" propaganda). In particular, it argued that the Soviets would avoid any confrontation that caused direct harm to their country, because their ideology told them that victory would be there in the long term.

It followed the 12 March 1947 statement of the Truman Doctrine, by President Harry S Truman that "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures." }}</ref>

Marshall Plan and other actions

As mentioned, containment considered all elements of national policy. Economics were certainly one of them, and the Marshall Plan provided economic assistance to the devastated nations of postwar Europe, in the interest of their strengthening themselves and also not having a turbulent environment in which Communist insurgency might flourish.


  1. George Kennan (February 22, 1946), (Telegram) The Charge in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State
  2. "X" (pseudonym for George Kennan\) (July 1947), "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", Foreign Affairs