George Kennan’s book Russia and the West chronicles early Soviet international politics under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin as well as Joseph Stalin. Russian diplomacy vis-à-vis the West is the emphasis, and Kennan offers keen analysis concerning Soviet intentionality. In his final chapter “Keeping a World Intact,” Kennan endeavors to harmonize points of friction with geopolitical realism to construct a workable American/Soviet diplomatic model for the Cold War.
“Stalin was a dangerous man to the end; and almost to the end, he remained unchallenged in his authority. But the men around him served him, throughout those final years, in a sullen, guarded silence, expecting nothing and waiting only for the hand of Time to take him.
“By this opposition to the very institutions of the West, the Russian Communists offered to the will of the Western peoples a species of defiance for which they have had no patent other than their own unlimited intellectual arrogance.
“Russian governments have always been difficult governments to do business with. This is nothing new in kind – if anything is new about it – it is only a matter of degree.
“People who have only enemies don’t know what complications are; for that, you have to have friends; and these, the Soviet government, thank God, now has.
“The first to go, in my opinion, should be self-idealization and the search for absolutes in world affairs: for absolute security, absolute amity, absolute harmony. We are a strong nation, wielding great power. We cannot help wielding this power. It comes to us by virtue of our sheer size and strength, whether we wish it or not.
*All excerpts have been taken from Russia and the West: Under Lenin and Stalin, Mentor Book.
Keeping a World Intact – George F. Kennan