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Correction to This Article
The March 18 obituary of George F. Kennan incorrectly said that the diplomat and historian was educated at a military school in Delaware. Kennan graduated from a military academy in Delafield, Wis.
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Outsider Forged Cold War Strategy

In the same period, he issued an impassioned plea for nuclear disarmament that ended with these words:

"For the love of God, for the love of your children and of the civilization to which you belong, cease this madness. You are mortal men. You are capable of error. You have no right to hold in your hands -- there is no one wise enough and strong enough to hold in his hands -- destructive power sufficient to put an end to civilized life on a great portion of our planet."


George F. Kennan, right foreground, is shown in 1952 with Soviet President Nikolai Shvernik, center, and A.F. Gorkin. Kennan loved Russian culture. (AP)

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In February 1994, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations at a celebration of his 90th birthday, Mr. Kennan harked back to the "X" article. The time to have negotiated with Moscow, he said, was right after the evident success of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, "when the lesson I wanted to see us convey to Moscow had been successfully conveyed."

But the United States and its allies insisted on "unconditional surrender" by the Soviets. The result, he said, was 40 years of Cold War at a cost of vast and unnecessary military expenditure, a useless and dangerous nuclear arsenal and 40 years of communist misgovernment in Eastern Europe.

In 1989, Mr. Kennan published "Sketches From a Life," and in 1992, he published "Around the Cragged Hill." In these volumes, he expounded a deeply conservative political philosophy and a pessimistic view of mankind and of the United States in particular.

In "Sketches," he offered his idea of the typical Californian (and by implication the typical American): "Childlike in many respects: fun-loving, quick to laughter and enthusiasm, unanalytical, unintellectual, outwardly expansive, preoccupied with physical beauty and prowess, given to sudden and unthinking seizures of aggressiveness, driven constantly to protect his status in the group by an eager conformism -- yet not unhappy."

In Cragged Hill," he wrote that the United States is devoid of "intelligent and discriminating administration," and should be broken up into a dozen republics. The country should be guided by an advisory council made up of distinguished citizens.

George Frost Kennan was born in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, 1904. His parents were Kossuth Kent Kennan and his wife, Florence. He was educated at a military school in Delaware and at Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1925.

He was a past president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He held numerous honorary degrees and he was a fellow of Harvard University and of All Souls College, Oxford University.

He passed the State Department examinations and was commissioned in the Foreign Service in 1926. His first post was Geneva, where he was a consular officer. In 1927, he was transferred to Hamburg, Germany, and the following year to Tallinn, Estonia.

In 1928, he went to Berlin as a language officer. The following year, he was designated a member of the first group of State Department officials to begin preparing to work in the Soviet Union. Although he detested Soviet communism, he had a deep affection for the Russian people and their culture.

From 1931 until 1933, Mr. Kennan was stationed in Latvia and Lithuania, listening posts for the Soviet Union. In 1933, he went to Moscow with Ambassador William C. Bullitt and helped establish diplomatic relations between Washington and the Kremlin, ending a break that began after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Mr. Kennan later served in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany, where he was detained for five months during World War II. After his release, he had assignments in Lisbon and London before returning to Moscow. He was transferred to Washington in 1946 to lecture at the National War College.

His brief tenure as ambassador in Moscow in 1952 ended when he was expelled by Stalin for comparing conditions in Moscow to those in Nazi Germany.

Survivors include his wife, Annelise Kennan, whom he married in 1931; and four children, Grace Kennan Warnecke of New York, Joan Kennan of Washington, Christopher James Kennan of Pine Plains, N.Y., and Wendy Kennan of Penzance, England; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.


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