How much do you know about Mr. X?
While writing this essay, I asked several young men and women what George F. Kennan meant to them. As it turned out, nearly all were essentially oblivious of the man or his role in shaping American foreign policy. Yet Kennan had fashioned the concept of containment in the name of which the cold war was conducted and won and almost concurrently had also expressed some of the most trenchant criticism of the way his own theory was being implemented. To the present generation, Kennan has receded into a vague past as has their parents’ struggle to bring forth a new international order amid the awesome, unprecedented power of nuclear weapons.
In light of tomorrow’s campus lecture by the son of Nikita Khrushchev focusing on that seminal Cold War crisis between superpowers, Kennan seems to be an unsung and (apparently) unknown hero of diplomatic policy and grand strategic thinking.