News | Jan. 1, 1991

Measures Short of War: The George F. Kennan Lectures at the National War College 1946-47

By Giles D. Harlow and George C. Maerz Book

Measures Short of War
Measures Short of War
Measures Short of War
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 200608-D-BD104-001

The current transition to a post-Cold War world is in certain ways reminiscent of the immediate post-World War II years. Then, amidst the euphoria of victory over the Axis powers, the Allies immediately had to face new problems, among them the threat of nuclear weapons, the necessity of rebuilding Europe and stabilizing Japan, and the need to contain Communist expansionism across the globe. Today, the West has had precious little time to celebrate the end of the Cold War before turning to the destabilizing problems of Soviet disintegration and the blatant military aggression of Iraq.

This volume holds the unpublished lectures and other writings of George F. Kennan at the National War College in its first academic year, 1946-47. Kennan and his generation, having won the war, faced the challenges of winning the peace. This they did, by creating and fostering the policies and structures that we now often take for granted: the Marshall Plan, the concept of containment, and institutions such as the US Department of Defense, NATO, and the United Nations• The National War College itself was an experiment in coeducating military and civilian leaders.

As the first Deputy for Foreign Affairs at the War College, George Kennan had no small role in shaping these developments. His 1946-47 lectures and papers, specially edited for this book in collaboration with Professor Kennan, document his thinking on many critical national security topics of those days when the Iron Curtain was falling across much of the world. Of particular interest is an early, unpublished version of his famous "Mr. X" essay, which develops his containment thesis more fully than the well known and often anthologized article.

Kennan's patterns of sound, critical thinking, his idealism tempered by realism, his intellectual rigor and command of history, and his repeated insistence on America's internal moral and social strength as essential components of national power all help make Measures Short of War valuable reading for any historian or student of international affairs.

J.A. Baldwin
Vice Admiral, US Navy
President, National Defense University

Click here to read the full book →