George Frost Kennan (February 16, 1904 – March 17, 2005) was an American diplomat and historian. He was known best as an advocate of a policy of containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War, on which he later reversed himself. He lectured widely and wrote scholarly histories of the relations between USSR and the United States. He was also one of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".
George Kennan in The Hot War
While George Kennan had been an important advisor to President Harry Truman in the immediate aftermath of World War II. He was a crucial architect of the administration's containment policy regarding to the Soviet Union. However, clashes with other members of Truman's administration prompted Kennan's exit just prior to the outbreak of World War III.
On December 20, 1951, with thirteen months left in his term, Truman met with Kennan for advice on a final end-strategy for the war. Truman's question to Kennan: would the USSR stop fighting if Joseph Stalin were dead? Kennan allowed it was possible, depending on who succeeded him. Kennan could also imagine that if Stalin died and that if enough of his inner circle died with him, then whoever survived would probably want to make a peace. The conversation was awkward at times, but ended on gracious terms.
Truman consulted Kennan again after Stalin was killed during Operation Long Reach in June, 1952. Truman had offered the status quo antebellum to Stalin's successor, Lavrenty Beria, who'd publicly refused. However, Truman had received information from Soviet back channels that suggested peace might be possible if the U.S. left Russia's satellite states alone, and that Beria's position was unstable. Kennan advised Truman to give the Soviets what they wanted, that the U.S. probably didn't have the manpower to liberate Eastern Europe, and certainly couldn't conquer the U.S.S.R. Grudgingly, Truman adopted Kennan's recommendation. Kennan also predicted, correctly, that Beria was too unpopular to stay in power, and ran through a laundry list of possible replacements.
Alan G. Kirk
|United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Charles E. Bohlen
Karl L. Rankin
|United States Ambassador to Yugoslavia
Charles Burke Elbrick