Gaddis, Chapter 1:  Containment Before Kennan, in Strategies of Containment (1982)

What Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and their advisers sought was a way to win the war without compromising the objectives for which it was being fought.  It was out of their successive failures to square that circle that Kennan’s concept of ‘containment’ eventually emerged. (p. 4)

Chapter outline

I.  Containment by exhaustion?

II.  Containment by integration?

III.  Containment by bargaining (quid pro quo)?

IV.  Kennan’s answer: Long Telegram

Directory of American WWII Statesmen

  • William Bullitt –former ambassador to USSR
  • James Byrnes. –Secretary of State (1945-47)
  • John Deane –US general in Moscow
  • Averell Harriman –US ambassador in Moscow
  • Harry Hopkins –advisor to FDR
  • George Marshall –US general, chief of staff
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Henry Stimson –Secretary of War
  • Harry Truman
  • Henry Wallace –Vice President (1941-45)

Glossary of WWII Statecraft

  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Atlantic Charter
  • Collective security
  • Faustian bargain
  • Four policemen
  • Lend Lease
  • Linkage
  • Quid pro quo
  • Red Army
  • Spheres of influence
  • Summit diplomacy


FDR Yalta


Discussion Question

  • How might different schools of historical interpretation (traditional, revisionist, or post-revisionist) disagree over how to characterize American strategy at Yalta?

At Tehran in 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill convinced Stalin to send a Soviet delegation to a conference at Dumbarton Oaks, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in August 1944, where they agreed on the basic structure of the new organization. It would have a Security Council—the original Four Policemen, plus France—which would consult on how best to keep the peace and when to deploy the military power of the assembled nations. According to one historian, the organization demonstrated an understanding that “only the Great Powers, working together, could provide real security.” But the plan was a kind of hybrid between Roosevelt’s policemen idea and a global organization of equal representation. There would also be a General Assembly, made up of all nations; an International Court of Justice; and a council for economic and social matters. Dumbarton Oaks was a mixed success—the Soviets especially expressed concern over how the Security Council would work—but the powers agreed to meet again in San Francisco between April and June 1945 for further negotiations. There, on June 26, 1945, fifty nations signed the UN charter…. German counterattacks in the east failed to dislodge the Soviet advance, destroying any last chance Germany might have had to regain the initiative. 1945 dawned with the end of European war in sight. The Big Three met again at Yalta [in February 1945] in the Soviet Union, where they reaffirmed the demand for Hitler’s unconditional surrender and began to plan for postwar Europe. The Soviet Union reached Germany in January, and the Americans crossed the Rhine in March. In late April American and Soviet troops met at the Elbe while the Soviets pushed relentlessly by Stalin to reach Berlin first and took the capital city in May, days after Hitler and his high command had died by suicide in a city bunker. Germany was conquered. The European war was over. Allied leaders met again, this time at Potsdam, Germany, [in July 1945] where it was decided that Germany would be divided into pieces according to current Allied occupation, with Berlin likewise divided, pending future elections. Stalin also agreed to join the fight against Japan in approximately three months.” –American Yawp