I will confess first that I have been thinking about this in terms of Values Based Decision Making, but otherwise within the vacumn of my own little noggin. A little research quickly showed me that, once again, I have not come up with anything particularly original. But I still believe a discussion of this topic is particularly timely. So, here we go...
I had intended to start this diary off with a discussion of the famous "Long Telegram" by George Keenan which was published in Foreign Affairs in July 1947 as The Sources of Soviet Conduct by X. It was in this article that the policy of "Containment" of the Soviet Union was first and most famously espoused. I was, in fact, all set to blame Keenan for all the sins against "values based foreign policy" committed in the name of "containment". Imagine my surprise then upon re-reading this article and discovering this:
It is rather a question of the degree to which the United States can create among the peoples of the world generally the impression of a country which knows what it wants, which is coping successfully with the problems of its internal life and with the responsibilities of a world power, and which has a spiritual vitality capable of holding its own among the major ideological currents of the time. (Emphasis mine)
And this, the conclusion of the article:
Thus the decision will really fall in large measure on this country itself. The issue of Soviet-American relations is in essence a test of the overall worth of the United States as a nation among nations. To avoid destruction the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation.
Surely, there was never a fairer test of national quality than this. In the light of these circumstances, the thoughtful observer of Russian-American relations will find no cause for complaint in the Kremlin's challenge to American society. He will rather experience a certain gratitude to a Providence which, by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.
In essence, Keenan was saying that we only had to live up to our values to ultimately prevail. Forty years later, in 1987, Keenan had this to say about "containment":
There are many other sources of instability and trouble. There are local danger spots scattered about in the Third World. There is the dreadful situation in southern Africa. There is the grim phenomenon of a rise in several parts of the world of a fanatical and wildly destructive religious fundamentalism, and there is the terrorism to which that sort of fundamentalism so often resorts. There is the worldwide environmental crisis, the rapid depletion of the world's nonrenewable energy resources, the steady pollution of its atmosphere and its waters -- the general deterioration of its environment as a support system for civilized living.
And finally, there is much in our own life, here in this country, that needs early containment. It could, in fact, be said that the first thing we Americans need to learn to contain is, in some ways, ourselves: our own environmental destructiveness, our tendency to live beyond our means and to borrow ourselves into disaster, our apparent inability to reduce a devastating budgetary deficit, our comparable inability to control the immigration into our midst of great masses of people of wholly different cultural and political traditions.
At this juncture, I was going to launch into my own discussion of the pitfalls of the so called "pragmatic approach" to foreign policy versus the "values based" model. I still intend to do so in future diaries. I would be entirely remiss if, at this time, I did not offer my apologies to the late George Keenan, a man who 60 years ago typed these words on his typewriter:
gratitude to a Providence which, by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership