Containment

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Containment - George F. Kennan, Director of the State Department Policy Planning Unit, presented the strategy necessary to deal with Communist expansion. He first presented this strategy while charge d'affais in Moscow in a telegram in 1946 and later as Mr. X in the article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" in Foreign Affairs of June 1947. This article and Kennan's later work in the field described Soviet aggressive tendencies and the means to combat them. Kennan's Containment strategy was adopted almost in its entirety by President Truman in a speech to Congress during the Greek crisis in March 1947. He added to Kennan's Containment strategy an ideological component and created what later became known as the Truman doctrine. This strategy, as defined in the Truman Doctrine, was an all encompassing one that saw the need to assist Western Europe to regain its financial standing so that the socialist parties would not gain a foothold. As part of the Truman Doctrine the United States initiated the European Recovery Program, or The Marshall Plan, in 1947. This plan provided $12 billion to non-Communist European countries between 1948 and 1952 for economic reconstruction. The Marshall Plan was so successful that the countries that were supported by it became economic competitors of the United States within a decade. Not only did it provide economic recovery but it also helped to stay the ever-growing political support for Communist parties. However, as "effective as these nonmilitary measures were, they proved an insufficient means of checking Communist expansion. The United States had, from the outset, to augment its efforts with military means." ( Amitai Etzioni, The Hard Way to Peace: A New Strategy (New York: The Crowell-Collier Press, 1962) 17-18) The military aspect of this strategy called for "'longterm, patient, but firm and vigilant containment.' With persistence, flexibility, and resourcefulness, the United States could stop every effort of the Russians to extend their power." (Etzioni, 20) This containment strategy incorporated within it not just socio-economic plans as a means to deny Soviet expansionist goals but also the use of force, with atomic weapons used as the weight to balance against Soviet conventional forces. This strategy defined American foreign policy and was based on the assumption that any war would be a total war waged largely with atomic weapons.

--D. Leitner 16:28, 4 May 2004 (EDT)


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