The Long Telegram The Cause, the Surrounding Events, and Implications
TheLong Telegram: The Cause, the Surrounding Events, and Implications
TheLong Telegram: The Cause, the Surrounding Events, and Implications
The‘Long Telegram` is an 8,000-word length telegram that was writtenand sent by George Kennan to George Marshall, the United Statessecretary of state while he was serving as the ambassador of theUnited States to Moscow, Russia. It was received in the United Statesheadquarter in Washington on February 22, 1946, at the backdrop ofthe ongoing cold war and strained relationship between the UnitedStates and Russia on issues regarding Russia`s refusal to join thenewly established international monetary fund and World Bank. TheUnited States sought to inquire about the behavior of the SovietUnion, which was under a strict communist and expansionist regime.The telegram set out the practice and belief of the Soviet Union andproposed countermeasure policy of "containment." Thetelegram also gives significant insights on the history of Cold War.The paper examines the cause, the events, and the implications of theLong Telegram.
TheBackground of the Long Telegram
Therelationship between the United States and the Soviet Union wasmutual when the two countries were allies. For instance, the UnitedStates provided the Soviet Union with different war supplies andtrucks that helped the Soviet Union to push back the Nazi Germany inWestern Europe. Nevertheless, their cooperation also crushed thepowerful Japan forces in Asia. However, the relationship wasshort-lived as the animosity between them grew after World War II,culminating in the cold war between the Soviet Union and the UnitedStates. The cause of disagreement was that the Soviet Union under theleadership of Joseph Stalin wanted to extend its communism andexpansionist policy to Eastern Europe. According to Wilde (2016),communist movement is known to have spurred rivalry between nationsthat embraced communism and those that were for capitalism (forexample, the United States, Germany, and United Kingdom, amongothers) during the 20th Century. Stalinism is a form of governanceand policies that were implemented by Stalin Joseph between 1927 and1953 in the Soviet Union. ". Some of these policies includerapid industrialization, the theory of socialism and communism inEastern Europe—the plans that were opposed by the United States.The United States was also aware of the Soviet Union plan ofconverting the countries in Eastern Europe into its vassal states. Itfelt that the Soviet Union`s influence was expanding. Besides, SovietUnion`s anti-democratic stand threatened stability in Eastern Europe.The government of the United States sought to be updated by GeorgeKennan (U.S ambassador to Russia) about Soviet Union`s plans. In the"Long Telegram," Kennan gave relevant insights into theSoviet Union activities and went ahead to propose the theory ofcontainment as the best means of fighting against the expansionistand communist rule (Kennan 1946).
TheAuthor— George Frost Kennan
Kennanwas born on February 16, 1904. He is recognized for his diplomaticwork when working as an American diplomat. He also contributedremarkably in shaping the historical events while serving hiscountry. He advocated for the policy of containment of the USSRexpansion during the cold war, which he later opposed. Besides, he iswidely recognized for his lectures and scholarly work on thehistories touching on the relationship between the United States andRussia. Together with other contributors to the United States`foreign policies, they were commonly referred to as ‘The Wise Men.’
The"Long Telegram" and other writings by George Kennan and theTruman Doctrine inspired the United States` foreign "Policy ofContainment" that sought to regulate the activities of theSoviet Union. Kennan argued that the Soviet Union`s communist regimewas expansionist. He acknowledged the need for containment of USSR`sinfluence in territories that were strategically significant to theUnited States. Kennan`s sentiments provided justification andcomplementation for various suggestions about a new anti-USSR policyshared by the Truman Administration. Nevertheless, Kennan argumentsplayed a key role in the formulation of definitive institutions, coldwar programs and the Marshall plan of America (Wilde, 2016).
Followingthe implementation of his concepts as the United States` foreignpolicy, Kennan became critical of the same policies and ideas that hehad seemingly helped to develop. Towards the end of 1948, Kennandistanced himself from the new policies and agitated for positivedialogue between the government of the United States and the SovietUnion. However, his proposals were opposed and his influencemarginalized by the Truman administration in 1949 after theappointment of Dean Acheson as the new secretary of state. TheTruman`s administration assumed a more militaristic and assertivestrategy during the cold war, a move that Kennan termed an abrogationof his initial assessments of the Soviet Union relations with theUnited States (Wilde, 2016). Kennan ended his service to thedepartment of state in 1950 after serving two ambassadorial terms inYugoslavia and Moscow, after which he became critic of variousforeign policies of the United States. He was particularly involvedin analyzing international matters on different platforms until hedied in 2005 at age 101 (Wilde, 2016).
Containment:America`s Plan to Contain Communism
AsWilde, (2016) discusses, containment policy was introduced by theUnited States in the wake of the cold war to stop the spread ofSoviets` Communism system and to keeping it isolated and "contained"within its borders and to prevent the occurrence of the "Dominoeffect" of spreading of communism in countries borderingcommunist powers. The USSR and the United States had previouslyjoined efforts and fought as allies in different battles in Europeand Asia. For instance, they combined forces to defeat Germany andJapan in Western Europe and Asia. Notably, the supplies from theUnited States (trucks and ammunition) had enabled the Soviet Union toweather the storm of Germany` Nazi attacks by pushing Germany forcesback to Berlin. However, the association between the two superpowers(Soviets and the United States) was "purely one situational`because the relationship turned frosty once the Soviets` war withGermany ended. While the United States was agitating for democracyand helping the Western Europe block to regain its economic shape,the Soviet Union was under the dictatorship reign of Joseph Stalin.The Soviets influenced and occupied a larger part of Eastern Europeand planned to turn neighboring countries into vassal states (seriesof buffer). The two superpowers seemed too opposed (Wilde, 2016). TheUnited States intended to be informed about Stalin`s plans andactions they were undertaking to consolidate Eastern Europe. Kennanoutlined plans by the Soviets to join the United Nations and NATO.However, as the Soviets invaded Eastern Europe, the United Statesrealized growing rivalry with the Soviet Union.
Consequently,the containment policy was formulated by George Kennan in 1947. Itwas adopted by the United States as its foreign policy or strategyduring the cold war. The containment system highlighted the need forcommunism to be contained, lest it influenced the neighboringcountries across Europe. His fears were based on the Domino Theory,which posits neighboring countries were highly likely to be affectedby communism if one of the bordering countries fell to it. The Dominoand containment theory motivated different interventions by theUnited States in Central America, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, andGrenada, preventing the establishment of communism (Wilde, 2016).Kennan`s telegram gave insights into the Soviet Unions` actions andplans. Besides, it coined a way of handling the Soviets (containmenttheory). Kennan believed that neighboring nations stood at a higherrisk of being influenced to become communists by the mighty Soviets.For instance, following the work of communists in China and post-warpolitical and economic instability in countries such as France andItaly among other nations across Europe, all looking towardssocialism and communism Kennan believed expansionism of the Sovietswould spread to other nations in the world if it were not checked(Wilde, 2016).
Moreover,Kennan argued that the United States should not hesitate to helpcountries that were prone to the Soviets` expansionism policy throughpolitical, economic, cultural, and military aid to as an incentive toenable them to oppose the Soviet powers. Consequently, the presidentof the United States adopted Kennan`s containment policy under hisdoctrine known as the "Truman Doctrine." President Trumanordered the U.S military to fight against the actions of the Soviets.The government of the United States through the CriminalInvestigation Agency (CIA) availed various resources, including moneyto ensure victory for the Democratic Party in 1947 to keep theCommunist Party and the country from the influence of the Soviets(Wilde, 2016). It is worth noting that the "Long Telegram,"particularly Kennan`s containment policy received a fair amount ofcriticism and praise. The policy has had direct implications on thepolitics of many countries. For instance, the West was allied todictators and other people as long as they opposed communism ratherthan choosing a broad sense of morality. However, containment hasbeen lauded as the key foreign policy and central to United States`successful missions during the cold war that defeated the SovietUnion (Wilde, 2016).
Inconclusion, this aim of this paper was to discuss American history,focusing on the "Long Telegram" written by George Kennan.Following the strained relationship between the United States and theSoviet Union, the government of the United States sought to know theplans and actions of the Soviet Union through George Kennan, theambassador to the Soviet Union. Kennan not only document the ideasand actions of Soviets, but also the potential recommendation to thecounter plan, which the United States would indeed adopt to stop theexpansionist policies across Europe`s vulnerable states after worldwar II. Kennan`s containment policy contained in the “LongTelegram” was vital in the suppression of the Soviet regime inEurope. Therefore, the telegram goes down in history as the mostinfluential documents that shaped the nature of foreign relationshipsin the international world.
Kennan,G. (1946). TheLong Telegram.Retrieved fromhttp://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-long-telegram/Wilde,R. (2016). TheLong Telegram of George Kennan: The Birth of Containment .retrievedfrom https://www.thoughtco.com/what-was-the-long-telegram-1221534
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