18 April 2015

George Kennan’s Geopolitics of the Far East

By Francis P. Sempa
April 15, 2015

A worldview based on “unsentimental calculations of the balance of power” and an understanding of human nature. 

The American diplomat and historian George F. Kennan is mostly known for writing the “Long Telegram” from Moscow in February 1946 that warned of the growing Soviet threat to the West, and “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” in 1947 in Foreign Affairs, which explained the U.S. postwar policy of containment toward Soviet communism. Kennan as a diplomat represented the United States in European nations and Russia. He had very little experience in the Far East, with the exception of writing some confidential policy papers on China, Japan and Korea when he headed the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and making a trip to Japan in March 1948 to meet with General Douglas MacArthur to discuss postwar occupation policies. Indeed, Kennan admitted in his book American Diplomacy that he had no “personal familiarity” with the Far East and was “not an expert on Far Eastern Affairs.”

Kennan the historian and observer of international affairs, however, addressed the subject of U.S. interests in the Far East with the same perceptiveness and objectivity that characterized most of his writings on Russia and Europe.

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