George Kennan, one of the architects of containment and believer in “realpolitik”
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George Kennan, one of the architects of containment and believer in “realpolitik”. Soviet domination of Eastern Europe: Inevitable “realpolitik” or a cowardly failure of western resolve?.

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Soviet domination of Eastern Europe: Inevitable “realpolitik” or a cowardly failure of western resolve?


The Big Three plan the shape of post-war Europe at the Yalta Conference, a resort on the Crimean Sea, February 1945


Truman after his upset victory in 1948 Conference, a resort on the Crimean Sea, February 1945







  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949) 12, 1947

  • Means to militarily resist the numerically superior Red Army

  • Great Britain, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, France, Italy, Portulgal, Netherlands, and later West Germany and Turkey

  • Russians understandably viewed as provocatively aggressive

NATO as a symbol of a recovering world


  • Walter Lippmann on the cover of 12, 1947Time magazine

  • Argued Stalin/USSR primarily protective rather than expansionist

  • Warned America’s blind support of anti-communist regimes would result in alliances with anti-democratic dictators


The Cold War Mentality: 12, 1947At least in part because of Truman’s fear mongering, many Americans mistakenly believed:

  • Soviet Union was absolutely bent on world domination, not internal security from a hostile and largely capitalist world

  • All communist revolutions around the globe could ultimately be traced back to Soviet agitators and Soviet support

  • All communist revolutions were identically anti-democratic and repressive, and thus by definition could never be a reflection of the democratic will of the indigenous people




  • Important Point: To the dispassionate, non-ideological observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism

  • Variety of nationalist leaders borrowed parts of communist doctrines they found useful, or invented their own versions such as “Maoism”

  • To the narrow-minded ideologue, though, all communism was the same and ultimately linked back to Moscow

Mao and Stalin deeply distrusted each other and had very different ideas of the meaning and global future of Communism


  • Korea Divided: observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism

    • Soviets create a pro-Communist regime in the North under Kim Il Sung

    • The Americans create a pro-western, capitalist regime in the South under Syngman Rhee


Propaganda poster of Kim Il Sung in a worshipful North Korea observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism



Map of the Korean War in 1950 observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism


General Douglas MacArthur with his iconic corn-cob pipe observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism


Map of the Korean War in 1950 observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism



China armies



The Second Red Scare October, 1950

Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy who calls Truman “a son of bitch” and suggests the President is soft on communism


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