George F. Kennan is renowned as the author of the containment doctrine and subsequently as a critic of American Cold War policy. But other elements of his thought, which have been neglected, are integral to a reconsideration of his stature. He distrusted democracy and proposed ways to limit its expression, discounted movements for human rights in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, believed Hispanics posed a threat to the United States, and often argued against the national liberation aspirations in the Third World (which he considered largely irrelevant to Great Power diplomacy). He failed to grasp the connection between the U.S. civil rights movement and foreign policy. These weaknesses limited his usefulness as a policy adviser and still cloud his legacy as America’s “conscience.”

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