Architect of Truman's Containment Policy: George Kennan

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George Kennan was the chief architect of the containment strategy in the administration of Harry Truman, particularly as the head of the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department in 1946-49, and his policies remained in place until the end of the Cold War in 1991. Indeed, they remained in place long after he thought their usefulness had expired, since he thought that after the death of Stalin and the stalemate in Korea the Soviets were eager for détente with the West which would enable them to concentrate more on their massive internal problems. He opposed the global containment ideas of Paul Nitze in National Security Council Memorandum 68 (1950) as a hysterical overreaction, and thought that global containment was a serious strategic error, especially in peripheral regions like Indochina. The roots of the containment doctrine dated back to the Long Telegram he sent from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1946. Although he did not make any detailed policy recommendations, he made it clear that he did not regard the Soviet Union as the same type of threat as Nazi Germany. Unlike Hitler, Stalin's aggression and expansion were unplanned and opportunistic, and its leaders did not wish to risk a general war with the West. For this reasons, the Soviets were highly sensitive to the "logic of force" and would retreat if confronted with resolution (Kennan 1946). Internally, the Soviet Union was a police state ruled by a Communist Party oligarchy and bureaucracy, but one that was

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