Remember George Kennnan? You Should!

Kennan wrote the famous diplomatic cable that became an article in Foreign Affairs Magazine. It laid out the justification for what we call the “containment policy”.

The justifications for using containment are as important as the policy itself

  • The Soviet Union was inherently unstable
  • The Soviet Union could not be changed from the outside

For these reasons, efforts to engage the Soviet Union were essentially a waste of time, and potentially dangerous.l

There is a strong argument that the same arguments apply to Russia today under Putin. Peter Sovodnik makes that case for Vanity Fair. He says

One suspects that Donald Trump and his coterie have yet to read the “X” article. If they had, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wouldn’t have flown to Moscow to discuss U.S.-Russia relations; Trump likely never would have made his now obsolete comment about the obsolescence of NATO; and former national security adviser Michael Flynn never would have discussed lifting sanctions with the seemingly ubiquitous Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Nor would White House spokesman Sean Spicer—impossibly unsophisticated, devoid of nuance or grammar—have made that asinine remark about Hitler and Bashar al-Assad. Recall that Spicer made his comment while trying to argue that the Kremlin had to decide whether it wanted to be allied with the Syrian regime. Perhaps most galling about Spicer’s suggestion that Hitler was Assad’s better because he hadn’t sunk to using chemical weapons was not its obvious falseness, in fact, but rather its implication that Russia could be appealed to on moral grounds. He was trying to embarrass Russia, which is an embarrassingly ignorant thing for a White House press secretary to do, since nothing embarrasses the Kremlin.

Food for thought.

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