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Secretary of State John Kerry arrives to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, Oct. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Cliff Owen).

For U.S., a Clear and Present Danger: Hyper-Partisanship

Friday, Dec. 4, 2015

After World War II, the United States had to learn how to be a global power. To do this it drew foreign policy and national security expertise from among university academics, civil service workers, senior policymakers, private sector specialists, some influential members of Congress and journalists from major national media. After a few years of debate, the foundational “big idea” for America’s Cold War strategy came from George Kennan, a career State Department official and a top expert on the Soviet Union and Russian history. Kennan argued that rather than bear the costs and risks of direct confrontation with Moscow, the United States should contain the Soviet Union until the inherent flaws of the communist system led to its inevitable collapse.

While Kennan focused on containing the Soviets in Europe using political and economic power, his strategic framework was eventually expanded to other regions and took on a military dimension. At every step, refinements to containment were debated within the community of foreign policy experts. These discussions unfolded in major national newspapers, magazines and journals; in the congressional committees that dealt with foreign policy and defense; and in elite organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations. ...

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