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George Kennan

Ned Seidler, born 22 Feb 1922
George Frost Kennan, 16 Feb 1904 - 17 Mar 2005
Oil, gouache and graphite pencil on illustration board
Sight: 24.4 x 22.9cm (9 5/8 x 9")
Frame: 61 x 45.7 x 2.5cm (24 x 18 x 1")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Ned Seidler
Object number
Exhibition Label
As assistant to ambassador Averell Harriman in Moscow in 1946, George F. Kennan could closely observe Russian postwar diplomacy. For Kennan, Soviet policies of expansion had more to do with Russian history than with Communist ideology. To ensure that Washington saw the situation correctly, he sent an 8,000 word telegram to his superiors. Kennan's "Long Telegram" depicted Russian leaders who cynically dismissed international law and agreements when it suited them. He emphasized Russia's sense of insecurity and its desire for more territory, and stated that Moscow did not believe in a permanent peace with the U.S. Kennan argued that America must assume the role of a "great power" to balance the power of the Soviet Union. When efforts to reach agreements with Russia regarding Germany and Eastern Europe failed, Kennan's doctrine of "containment" became a cornerstone of American Cold War policy.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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