george kennan, the famous 'x' whose article in foreign affairs laid out the blueprint for the cold war, died at the ripe old age of 101.
he was also one of the more candid american diplomats.
he once said something to the effect of: "the us has 8% of the world's population and enjoys 50% of its resources. the objective of us foreign policy is to keep it that way".
this has been quoted by noam chomsky widely. i mentioned this quote in a column once, and got the following response from reader russil wvong some years ago:
I looked up PPS 23 a few months ago: it turned out that Chomsky
was misrepresenting what Kennan actually wrote, by stitching together
his words. (In a six-line quote, Chomsky clipped Kennan five times!)
For the gory details, including the full text of the section of
PPS 23 that Chomsky is quoting from, see
A Chomsky fan read my little essay and wrote to Professor Chomsky
asking him whether he wasn't exaggerating Kennan's iniquity.
Chomsky's response was quite hostile, to say the least. :-)
I think the following excerpt from a lecture Kennan gave in 1951
might summarize his view of US foreign policy a little more
Today, standing at the end rather than the beginning of this
half-century, some of us see certain fundamental elements on which
we suspect that American security has rested. We can see that our
security has been dependent throughout much of our history on the
position of Britain; that Canada, in particular, has been a useful
and indispensable hostage to good relations between our country
and British Empire; and that Britain's position, in turn, has
depended on the maintenance of a balance of power on the European
Continent. Thus it was essential to us, as it was to Britain,
that no single Continental land power should come to dominate the
entire Eurasian land mass. Our interest has lain rather in the
maintenance of some sort of stable balance among the powers of the
interior, in order that none of them should effect the subjugation
of the others, conquer the seafaring fringes of the land mass,
become a great sea power as well as land power, shatter the
position of England, and enter -- as in these circumstances it
certainly would -- on an overseas expansion hostile to ourselves
and supported by the immense resources of the interior of Europe
and Asia. Seeing these things, we can understand that we have had
a stake in the prosperity and independence of the peripheral
powers of Europe and Asia: those countries whose gazes were
oriented outward, across the seas, rather than inward to the
conquest of power on land.
["American Diplomacy", 1951]
What this means for relations between the US and India, I'm not sure.
To me, it suggests that the US interest is in maintaining some kind
of balance between India, China, Russia, and Japan, rather than
allowing any one of these countries to dominate Asia.
> it is interesting to see clinton echo kennan almost
> verbatim recently.
Actually, I think it only looks similar if you take it out of
context. They both note that the US has a disproportionate
share of the world's wealth; that's about the only similarity.
Kennan (a pessimist) was arguing that the US ought to prevent
a future attack from the Pacific by keeping Japan and the
Philippines out of Communist control, but that otherwise the
US ought to refrain from interfering in Asia. Clinton
(a liberal optimist) is arguing for free trade.
Now, in the next 15 years, the developing countries in
Latin America and Asia will grow three times as fast as
the United States, Europe and Japan. As I told the United
Nations a couple of days ago, early in the next century,
about 20 nations comprising half of the world's people
will move from the ranks of low-income nations to
middle-income nations. They are going to grow in a world
economy. We are going to participate in that growth to a
greater or lesser extent. The more fair trade deals we
have to allow us entry into their markets where we've been
at a significant disadvantage for too long, the more we will
This is not about NAFTA or factories moving there to sell back
to here. I think all of us agree it is highly unlikely anyone
will move a factory to Chile to sell back to here. This is
about how we can best seize our opportunities in the economy
that is emerging, and how 4 percent of the world's people can
continue to maintain 20 to 22 percent of the world's wealth,
and continue to grow the economy so incomes can rise and new
jobs can be created.
end quote ======
and just today, got the following rejoinder to that from reader greg cox:
George Kennan just died so I was searching the web for some stuff to post elsewhere about him and I came upon an article you wrote (http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/mar/15rajeev.htm). You state that Chomsky deliberately misquotes Kennan. That isn't totally fair. There is a part of the quote that Chomsky leaves out because it isn't needed. The dropped material is in reference to South East Asia, incidentally, an area the Kennan didn't see as important to US interests. The quote can be found in the Policy Planning Papers, I don't have it with me, but what is dropped isn't that important.
I've also heard Chomsky use that quote in a lecture and mention that Kennan was refering to South East Asia, so it can not be claimed that he is hiding anything.
end quote ==============
go figure! i personally prefer to believe that kennan did say this and did mean it. surely the us does act as though this is the very core of its policy: what's ours is ours, and what's yours is ours too.