Kennan, Nitze And The Nsc 68

1724 words - 7 pages

Question 4: “NSC 68 was written by Paul Nitze in the spring of 1950 and implemented over the course of the year. How does the definition of the containment policy in NSC 68 compare to George Kennan’s original ideas? How does NSC 68 show continuity with the earlier policy and what about is new?


“The Sources of Soviet Conduct” Foreign Affairs, 1947, explains the difficulty of summarizing Soviet ideology. For more than 50 years, the Soviet concept held the Russian nations hypnotized, discontented, unhappy, and despondent confined to a very limited Czarist political order. Hence, the rebel support of a bloody Revolution, as a means to “social betterment” (Kennan, 567). Bolshevism was conceptualized as “ideological and moral, not geopolitical or strategic”. Hoover declares that… “five or six great social philosophies were struggling for ascendancy” (Leffler, The Specter of Communism, 20).

Therefore, establishing anti-Bolshevism in the United States was Robert F. Kelley’s mission. Kelley an Irish Catholic trained by Russian refugees ran the Eastern European Affairs division in the State Department (Leffler, The Specter of Communism, 19). Kelley’s intense dislike for the Bolsheviks demands that his aides join actively in his views. One of his service officers is George F. Kennan who joins in the close observation of Bolshevik destabilizing and expansionist activities that cause unrest in Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Spain and Greece (Leffler, The Specter of Communism, 19). Was Kennan’s containment strategy thinking set off with Kelley’s training? Was Kennan’s awareness of the ongoing Russian Communist activities the basis for his ideas? History proves that George Kennan’s ideas on containment were the basis of NSC-68 and that Paul Nitze drafted NSC-68, based on Kennan’s containment ideology.


Kennan was first to communicate in print his ideas about containment policy against Soviet expansionism (Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 24). Yet, drafting NSC-68 once Kennan resigns his directorship in the Policy Planning Staff in 1949, falls to a small committee of State and Defense Department administrators under the chairmanship of Kennan’s replacement, Paul H. Nitze (Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 88). Meanwhile around the globe, in 1942, Stalin witnesses the Battle of Stalingrad. Germany, Japan and Italy form the Axis alliance signing the Tripartite Pact, in 1943 (Leffler, The Specter of Communism, 28). In 1944, the Soviet Union demands a 216,000 sq. km area for a ”joint Soviet-Iranian oil exploration”. In 1945, the atomic bomb drops on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. On August 14, 1945, Japan agrees to a ceasefire. In 1946, the Turks request US support against Stalin in the Straits of Hormuz (Westad, The Global Cold War, 59-61).

While, Kennan’s reputation as the government’s primary Soviet expert leads him to write his most contradicting article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” of course in anonymity. Although,...

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