Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saddling up at containment gulch; or, The X article rides again

Nicholas Thompson, author of the recent book on Paul Nitze and George Kennan (The Hawk and the Dove), tries to apply some lessons of Kennan's famous X article, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," to the struggle with global jihadism.

Thompson mentions, among other things, Kennan's view that some parts of the world are more important for U.S. national security than others. True enough. I would caution, however, that this lesson should be stripped of Kennan's implicit (and sometimes not-so-implicit) racism. Not many people these days would want to go around quoting Kennan's 1962 statement that the capacity for democracy is "peculiar to peoples who have had their origins on or near to the shores of the North Sea."

With that caveat (and maybe one or two others that readers can supply themselves), I think we could all do worse than re-read the X article, and then re-read it again.


bro said...

North Sea, Cradle of Democracy. What is it in those magical waters (or sands)?

LFC said...

Beats me.