George Kennan: The Long Telegram of 1946

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George Kennan did not make any detailed policy recommendations in the Long Telegram of 1946, although he made it clear that he did not regard the Soviet Union as the same type of threat as Nazi Germany. He opposed the ideas of 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. 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, it was a police state ruled by a Communist Party oligarchy and bureaucracy, but one that was always insecure in its power. Although Marxism had no real emotional appeal to the masses, the elites were guided by the assumption that the imperialist powers were always attempting to encircle the Soviet Union and that the contradictions within capitalism would always lead to wars. They would attempt to exploit these differences within the capitalist nations, while at the same time attempting to weaken their hold on the colonial areas. Kennan was well aware that the main problem in Western Europe was war-weariness and economic insecurity, and the U.S. would have to take the lead in reviving these countries or the "Russians certainly will" (Kennan 1946). In this case, though,
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