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For immediate release: January 13, 2004
Contact: Patricia Allen, (609) 258-6108, pallen@princeton.edu

Conference explores Kennan's lasting influence on U.S. foreign policy

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The nation's leading political and international affairs scholars will join current and former diplomats on Friday, Feb. 20, at Princeton University to discuss the legacy of the pre-eminent diplomat George F. Kennan and his lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy from the Cold War to the Iraq conflict.

The University is hosting the daylong George F. Kennan Centennial Conference in honor of Kennan's 100th birthday. Kennan, a member of Princeton's class of 1925, was a diplomat who crafted what for many years was the nation's most significant and defining foreign policy tenet. Kennan developed the U.S. strategy known as "containment," which became the foundation of American policy toward the U.S.S.R during the Cold War.

The conference will include presentations and panel discussions on Kennan's legacy, the Cold War, 20th-century diplomatic history, diplomacy after the fall of the Soviet Union, current U.S. foreign policy and the future of American diplomacy. U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is scheduled to deliver opening remarks for the conference. John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History and Political Science at Yale University and Kennan's official biographer, is expected to deliver a keynote speech at a dinner honoring Kennan.

"George Kennan is our model of a scholar-statesman," said Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean and the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a scholar on international law and foreign policy issues. "The famed 'Long Telegram' that he sent to the State Department as a young diplomat observing the new Soviet Union became the 'X article,' which in turn made 'containment' a cornerstone of American foreign policy. Less well known is the extent to which Kennan's ideas were drawn from a deeper set of theoretical propositions about how nations behave. His ideas have shaped our world as much as his active public service."

Kennan, a Soviet expert and diplomat serving in Moscow, sent the 8,000-word "Long Telegram" from Moscow in 1946 in an effort to awaken American officials to the futility of trying to collaborate with the government of Josef Stalin. The telegram took Washington by storm and transformed a relatively unknown diplomat into a recognized authority on U.S.-Soviet relations. The telegram became the basis for Kennan's seminal "X article," which appeared in the influential journal, "Foreign Affairs," in the summer of 1947.

Additional conference highlights include:

  • Robert Tucker, attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow from 1944 to 1953 and professor emeritus of politics at Princeton, is scheduled to discuss Kennan's leadership through his dispatch of the "Long Telegram."
  • Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991 and lecturer in public and international affairs at Princeton, is scheduled to present Kennan's analysis and interpretation of the Cold War.
  • Ambassador Robert Hutchings, chair of the National Intelligence Council and former director of European affairs for the National Security Council, plans to address American diplomacy at the end of the Cold War. Hutchings is on leave from his position in the Woodrow Wilson School as assistant dean for graduate professional education and lecturer in public and international affairs.
  • John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, is expected to present on the role of containment in the world after the Cold War.
  • Joseph Nye Jr., dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a member of Princeton's class of 1958, plans to discuss America's power and international affairs strategy for the 21st century.
  • U.S. Army Col. Dallas Brown, a political-military planner with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and director for peacekeeping in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, is slated to give his perspective on U.S. foreign policy over the last 15 years and beyond, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to America's role in Iraq. Brown, a member of Princeton's class of 1978, also was director of multilateral affairs for the National Security Council from 1994 to 1997.

In addition to hosting the conference, the University is celebrating Kennan's Feb. 16 birthday with "The Life and Times of George F. Kennan: A Centennial Exhibition," at Firestone Library. The exhibition retraces Kennan's life from his boyhood in Milwaukee to his studies at Princeton to his work as a diplomat in Moscow, Prague, Berlin and Lisbon. The collection includes declassified government correspondence and files, articles, letters and other memorabilia from his service, including his role as adviser to Secretaries of State George Marshall and Dean Acheson. The exhibit runs through April 18 in the library's main gallery.

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, which houses Kennan's papers, organized the conference and the exhibition. Co-sponsors of the conference are: the Friends of the Princeton University Library; the Institute for Advanced Study; the Princeton University Council of the Humanities; the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies.

Registration for the conference is required. Seating for the scheduled Secretary Powell lecture in Richardson Auditorium is limited. A lottery will be held for students, alumni, faculty and staff. Seating also will be available for the press. Others will be invited to view the lecture at a simulcast in McCosh 50. The conference schedule, registration materials and program information are available on the Mudd Library Web site.


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