George F. Kennan died on March 17th, at the age 101. Mr. Kennan was the mysterious Mr. X who penned the "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs, which became the basis for the US policy of containment of the Soviet Union.
The New York Times wrote up a fitting obituary giving a detailed account of one of the more influential policy makers of the 20th century. As a student of politics, his writing and ideas transformed the second half of the last century and ultimately prevailed.
Sec. Rice, who knew Mr. Kennan, released a statement today from Japan that contains the following:
"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."
Mr. Kennan's passing represents an end to the great policy makers who framed US international goals after the Second World War. May his family find peace in knowing that he had a profound effect on his country.
UPDATE: Richard Hollbrooke, Ambassador to the UN during the Clinton Administration writes a very interesting article in the WaPo on George F. Kennan and his experiences with him, both positive and negative. (March 22, 2005)