Cold War Triumph of Liberal Capitalism — in Hindsight
Pseudoerasmus
81

The point of my citing to George Kennan’s 1946 “Long Telegram”—published in 1947 in Foreign Affairs as “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”—was to stress that what you, Pseudoerasmus, whoever you are, call the retrospective assessment was Kennan’s prospective hope as well.

Kennan wanted containment, not rollback. Kennan wanted to move the conflict to the political economic-ideological level: which system better delivered on Enlightenment values of prosperity, security, freedom? He was confident that, if moving the conflict to that level could be accomplished, the U.S., the western alliance, liberal democratic capitalism would win if it deserved to win. And he was confident it deserved to win.

Curiously, N.S. Khrushchev—at least in his saner moments—wanted the same thing: he, too, sought to move the conflict to the political economic-ideological level: which system better delivered on Enlightenment values of prosperity, security, freedom? He was confident that, if moving the conflict to that level could be accomplished, Soviet communism would win if it deserved to win. And he was confident it deserved to win. “We will have to be the ones making your funeral arrangements…”

Khrushchev was wrong. But he was a believer…