It was George Kennan who promulgated the containment policy. In his famous long telegram from Moscow, he guessed at Soviet intentions and urged that the U.S. had to contain the USSR. In his perceptive and intriguing book, the very young Nicholas Thompson offers a joint biography of Kennan and Paul Nitze, who opposed Kennan’s position of waiting patiently until the USSR imploded. He advocated a strong military buildup, although, in truth, he was very cautious about deploying the weapons. Both men came from the same upper class background and Ivy League schools. Both served in important civilian positions during World War II and both believed deeply in public service. Kennan had served in the Embassy in the Soviet Union and was able to hold opposing views about our one-time ally. Nitze seemed to see the situation as either/or – either the Soviets were our friends or they were our enemies. Thompson does an admirable job of crafting a vast trove of material into a readable history. It is still not clear whether the military build-up prolonged the Cold War with a paranoid foe or contributed to its fall.
The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War - Nicholas Thompson
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Published: Picador - September 28th, 2010