Kennan reconsidered

Anders Stephanson writes on the life and legacy of George Kennan.

“Being ideologically anti-ideological, Kennan said more about Soviet ideology in his foundational texts than he usually did, much to his later regret. The notion of containment, nevertheless, was not really about ideology. His account of the Soviet Union had centered, as was his wont, on its alleged ‘nature’ as a specific phenomenon. As was also his wont, the analysis was couched in a language seductively metaphorical and suggestive–a language whose sources of inspiration had little to do with the ideology of the embryonic cold war.

First, ‘containment’ was the language of disease and disease control. Soviet communism was for Kennan ‘a malignant parasite.'”