George Kennan’s concept of containment

Containment was a strategy that the United States of America implemented to prevent the spread of communism during the Cold War between them and the Soviet Union. An American Diplomat called George Kennan introduced this strategy in 1947. George Kennan was also a diplomat, historian and political analyst. He was also referred to as the “father of containment”. Kennan was also advised the U.S. State department on the foreign affairs of the Soviet Union after his appointment as the foreign affairs minister in Moscow. During this period, George Kennan gave a report, famously known as the “Long Telegram”. He sent this letter to the reigning administration of the United States of America at that time. They used his findings to formulate the containment foreign policies.

These were used to stop the Soviet Union’s plans of using their power to conquer the nations that were around them and making them communists. George Kennan interpreted the concept and derived three goals from it. First, he argued that the concept would help nations around Europe regain their power. Secondly, the concept could help hold back the Soviet Union’s expansion plans of transforming nations around them to communists. Finally, Kennan’s goal also involved improving the relationship between Soviet Union and other nations around the world.

Like any other policy, the containment concept received its equal share of criticisms. Criticism is extremely significant because it brought the concept into light making citizens understand the reasons behind it. These critics viewed Kennan concept as a strategy that was too defensive. Among the critics, the most outstanding were John Foster Dulles, Paul Nitze and Walter Lippman, who was a columnist.
After reading and analyzing the X- Article written by George Kennan, Walter Lippman argued that the concept was baseless since it showed no difference between fundamental and nonessential issues.

From the article, Kennan mainly focused on bringing down the Soviet Union’s plans to expand since it would gain more influence around the world especially in the world main centers of industrial powers. Together with the previous criticisms, John Foster Dulles also criticized the policy during the campaigns for the 1952 elections. Dulles suggested that the foreign policy should have concentrated on freeing the affected European nations from the Soviet Union rather than on containment. Paul Nitze, who succeeded Kennan as the director of policy planning, criticized the concept arguing that Kennan focused on the use of military force to contain the Soviet Union, but this was not the case.
Several strategies were used to implement the containment concept.

These strategies were remarkably effective, and they included the Marshall plan and the National Security Council plan or the NSC-68 Plan. The Marshalls plan also known as the European Recovery Program focused on assisting the affected European countries rebuild their economies after going through the First World War. They did this effectively by giving them money to buy goods from them and for trade among themselves. The NSC-68 plan was a defense strategy whose chief focus was using military force to create a military build-up in the Soviet Union. With this, they viewed the union as a political threat, and the use of military defense was the only way of controlling it.

Betts, Richard K. U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY: LENSES AND LANDMARKS. November 2004. 2012 November 13 <>.
Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State. Kennan and Containment, 1947. 2012 November 13 <>.