George Kennan

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Wed Dec 16 20:00:47 PST 1998

Stephen E Philion wrote:

> Henry,
> Although your posting below is ostensibly a 'refutation' of Louis, can you
> show us in any way how what you just wrote differs in any *substantive*
> way from the Chomsky quote that Louis quoted? I think you have misread
> the content of the main points raised by the Chomsky quote that Louis
> reprinted for the list.


It could be possible that I was misreading the line: "His writings are an extremely interesting illustration of the dovish". If by that Chomsky meant that Kennan's opposition to the dovish position, then I have indeed misread its meaning. On the other hand, if the line meant Kennan represented the dovish position, then my post's intention was to challenge that claim.

Anyway, in my subsequent post on Acheson, I pointed out: It has been understood for a long time that the line that separates American "doves" from their counterpart "hawks" has more to do with the willingness to deploy nuclear weapons. The terms have very little meaning when it comes to conventional wars.



> On Wed, 16 Dec 1998, Henry C.K. Liu wrote:
> > Louis:
> >
> > Unless your labeling of G. Kennan as a "dove" is the latest revisionist tour de
> > force, Kennan was generally considered as the policy father of Cold War
> > ideology, especially by Third World intellectuals.
> > His considerable influence in the State Department paved the way for a siege
> > mentality that those who were not with us were against us, not permitting
> > middle of the road national independence movements any breathing room. It also
> > provided the policy underpinning for the strategy of allying with all manner of
> > despicable dictators and reactionary forces, under the banner of the our
> > bastards vs their bastards formula. Under that policy, Truman abandoned FDR's
> > anti-colonialsm stand and America's self image of the world's liberator. The
> > US then self-righteously adopted the position of the world's arch reactionary
> > force and sided with Churchill's self-fulfilling view of the Iron Curtain which
> > soon spread Europe to include Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
> > As a young diplomat, Kennan was quietly vocal in supporting Churchill's insane
> > push to continue W.W.II from occupied Berlin on to Moscow to rid the world of
> > the progressive virus once and for all and made it safe for a US-British
> > condominium. The net effect of the Kennan doctrine was to push Mao, Ho
> > Chiming, Castro and other lesser known national leaders into the arms of the
> > Soviet Union geopolitically, making the post war world into a single
> > dimensional bi-polar structure that lasted until the fall of the soviet Union.
> > Its damage had been highly significant in the sense that out of the Kennan
> > world view flowed a garrison state mentality in both camps of the bi-polar Cold
> > War, preventing the creative and necessary evolution of political and economic
> > theories that would have been more fitting for dealing with post war realities
> > in a more relevant historical context. Kennan's influence waned only after the
> > American public woke up to the pathetic error of the Vietnam War.
> >
> > Henry C.K. Liu
> >
> >
> >
> > Louis Proyect wrote:
> >
> > > (From the Chomsky archives at
> > >
> > > Kennan was one of the most intelligent and lucid of US planners, and a
> > > major figure in shaping the postwar world. His writings are an extremely
> > > interesting illustration of the dovish position. One document to look at if
> > > you want to understand your country is Policy Planning Study 23, written by
> > > Kennan for the State Department planning staff in 1948. Here's some of what
> > > it says:
> > >
> > > "...we have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its
> > > population....In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy
> > > and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern
> > > of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of
> > > disparity....To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and
> > > day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on
> > > our immediate national objectives....We should cease to talk about vague
> > > and...unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living
> > > standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to
> > > have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by
> > > idealistic slogans, the better."
> > >
> > > Louis Proyect
> > >
> > > (
> >
> >

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