“For all these qualities — and perhaps because of them — Kennan was never vouchsafed the opportunity actually to execute his sensitive and farsighted visions at the highest levels of government. And he blighted his career in government by a tendency to recoil from the implications of his own views. The debate in America between idealism and realism, which continues to this day, played itself out inside Kennan’s soul. Though he often expressed doubt about the ability of his fellow Americans to grasp the complexity of his perceptions, he also reflected in his own person a very American ambivalence about the nature and purpose of foreign policy.”
“So emphatically did Kennan sometimes reject the immediately feasible that he destroyed his usefulness in the conduct of day-to-day diplomacy. This turned his life into a special kind of tragedy. Until his old age, he yearned for the role in public service to which his brilliance and vision should have propelled him, but that was always denied him by his refusal to modify his perfectionism.”
—Secretary of State, 1973-1977, Henry Kissinger reviewing “George F. “Kennan: An American Life,” by John Lewis Gaddis. Click on: www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/books/review/george-f-kennan-an-american-life-by-john-lewis-gaddis-book-review.html?pagewanted=all
In 1946, Ambassador Kennan authored the “containment” strategy that drove US foreign policy through to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He left the State Department in 1950, but continued writing and lecturing until his death in 2005.
In case you wondered: “I made it to the very top of world affairs, not because I had a better mind, but because Kennan had a better conscience.”