THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The Long Telegram
70 years ago today, George Kennan, an American diplomat living in Moscow, sent an 8,000-word telegram to President Truman’s State Department. The 70th anniversary of that “Long Telegram” landed on Newsweek‘s list of top 10 historic anniversaries in 2016.
In his telegram to Washington, Kennan provided U.S. policy recommendations based on his analysis of the cultural and historical forces that shaped the motives of Soviet leaders and influenced Soviet conduct around the globe. Kennan asserted that the “problem of how to cope with [the Soviet] force in [is] undoubtedly greatest task our diplomacy has ever faced and probably greatest it will ever have to face. It should be point of departure from which our political general staff work at present juncture should proceed.” He was correct. Kennan’s Long Telegram spurred intellectual policy debate that formed the basis of American policy towards the Soviet Union for the next 25 years, including the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.
Kennan’s original February 22, 1946 telegram is part of the historic holdings at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.