In "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" was George Kennan right, or was he just lucky that Mikhail Gorbachev came along and made him look right?Was George Kennan ( Mr. X) right in his analysis was...

In "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" was George Kennan right, or was he just lucky that Mikhail Gorbachev came along and made him look right?

Was George Kennan ( Mr. X) right in his analysis was he just lucky that Mikhail Gorbachev came along and made him look right? What does his analysis suggest for contemporary politics? Who should be contained today, if anyone? Why? How should it be done?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are numerous examples where Kennan's theory of containment was proven right, long before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power.  While containment wasn't the only reason the Soviet Empire fell, it was certainly one of them, and was certainly a successful policy overall.

Consider the success of containment during the Berlin Airlift - where West Berlin was protected without ever going to war. The protection of NATO based on containment policy that maintained a communist free Europe for almost 50 years.  The suppression of the Greek and Turkish rebellions, the Korean War, Quemoy and Matsu, etc. etc.  At that time, in those places, the only thing the Soviets or their allies understood was force to defend non-communist territory, at the same time as not directly threatening communism where it existed.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, Gorbachev did not just come along.  I think that you cannot have someone like that just pop up if the conditions in society are not right for him.  So, I think Kennan was right.  The Soviet Union had the seeds of weakness within it.  It had these kinds of internal instability that allowed Gorbachev's reforms to be welcomed.

It is harder to say who should be contained today and how.  I suppose that the most likely candidate for containment is Iran.  I think that Iran would be similar to the USSR in that it would be susceptible to having internal divisions, especially because of its weak economy.