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March 20, 2005



It is with profound sorrow that I learned today of the passing of George F. Kennan. I knew him, and I admired him as one of the greatest strategists in the history of American foreign policy. He had a profound influence on me.
 Ambassador Kennan had the vision to discern the underlying patterns of human affairs where others saw only disconnected shards. He believed passionately in the power of ideas, and that to be effective, policymakers must understand the tectonic forces of history moving beneath the surface of political events. Secretary of State George Marshall, who appointed Mr. Kennan the founding Director of the Office of Policy Planning, said he had a gift for "seeing around corners."
 From his famous "Long Telegram" to his contributions to the Marshall Plan, Ambassador Kennan helped create the intellectual context within which America’s successful Cold War diplomacy operated for over half a century. His many books and memoirs, and his devotion to Russian and Soviet studies in the United States, made a lasting contribution to scholarship.
 Ambassador Kennan’s legacy has been an inspiration to generations of men and women in the Department of State. So it will remain long into the future. I join my colleagues at the Department of State in honoring Ambassador Kennan’s service to the nation. We send our deepest condolences to Mrs. Annelise Kennan and the entire Kennan family.
When I began my tenure as Secretary of State a little over three years ago, I received a letter from Ambassador Kennan, a long and wonderful and loving letter, where he offered me some unexpected, unsolicited, but nevertheless excellent advice. He told me about the job I was entering. He told me about the demands of the job. He gave me some suggestions how to spend my time between traveling around the world, how to use ambassadors that we have out around the world, how to make sure I spent enough time in Washington advising the President, which is my principal responsibility, of course. But it was a wonderful letter.
And, of course, I took all the advice to heart, and I wrote Ambassador Kennan back and I thanked him. And I said, "I hope you will send me letters of advice on a regular basis." And a couple of weeks later, I got a letter back from Ambassador Kennan that said, "I’m 97 years old. I do not intend to write you letters on a regular basis." (Laughter.)
And a few months later, I got another letter from Ambassador Kennan. (Laughter.) What a remarkable man. And even in this age of astounding medical advances, it’s still really something for anyone to reach 100 years of age, which the Ambassador did just 4 days ago.
 George Kennan....
• Praised the diplomatic skills of Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom he called a “man of strong loyalties in a difficult position [who] has been much more powerful in his statements than” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; and
• Cautioned that the United States, even as the world’s sole superpower, cannot “confront all the painful and dangerous situations that exist in this world. … That’s beyond our capabilities.”



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Posted by: かんべえ | March 21, 2005 at 12:27 PM


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