X is dead

The name George F. Kennan is known to every student of international relations, at least for his long telegramme from Moscow 1947, which was subsequently published in Foreign Affairs, signed by "X". This article was one of the most influential pieces of political analysis in the last century. In it, the concept of containment of Soviet expansionism was described. This concept means in essence that while neither reasonable negotiation nor outright confrontation are options, the USSR's expansionism should be opposed in all quarters, letting the Soviets' system's inherent instability run its course. The collapse of the USSR 32 years later proved the ingeniousness of the concept.

To commemorate the passing on Thursday of George Kennan, one of the most important foreign-policy thinkers of the twentieth century, Foreign Affairs has made available a comprehensive selection of his writings from this magazine. Covering a span of 50 years, the selections begin with the seminal "X" article of 1947, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct."

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