Memorial Day 2022: Revisiting the Long Telegram

On Memorial Day we commemorate those who have died in the service of our country in a a day of remembrance. This year I revisit George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” inspired by a recent talk by Konstantin Kisin.

Memorial Day 2022: Revisiting the Long Telegram

The Long Telegram“Soviet power, unlike that of Hitlerite Germany, is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. Impervious to logic of reason, and it is highly sensitive to logic of force. For this reason it can easily withdraw – and usually does when strong resistance is encountered at any point. Thus if the adversary has sufficient force and makes clear his readiness to use it, he rarely has to do so. If situations are properly handled there need be no prestige-engaging showdowns.”

George Kennan in “The Long Telegram” (February 22, 1946)

When soldiers are prepared for war they foster peace. It would be nice if the world did not work that way, but as recent events in the Ukraine have demonstrated, the perception of weakness invites aggression.

“Finally, we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.”

George Kennan in “The Long Telegram” (February 22, 1946)

As Kennan rightly points out, the challenge is to prepare for war without becoming warlike. Tolkien, who saw combat first hand in the trenches in World War 1 has Faramir make this observation in “The Two Towers.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
J. R. R. Tolkien in “The Two Towers

Memorial Day is a time to express gratitude for those who have sacrificed themselves in the defense of our freedom.

“I’m not a religious man. But I can’t help noticing that every major religion, particularly the Abrahamic ones, and every major spiritual practice, and frankly, every happy person you’ve ever met. They have one thing in common. They all practice gratitude. We’re all grateful for what they have. We are the luckiest people in the history of the world. And if we’re grateful for that, and if we remember that, then our children and our grandchildren may as well.”
Konstantin Kisin  in “Why The West is Worth Saving

Here is the full talk by Konstantin Kisin:

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