Courtesy Reuters

"I felt like one who has inadvertently loosened a large boulder from the top of a cliff and now helplessly witnesses its path of destruction in the valley below, shuddering and wincing at each successive glimpse of disaster."1 So George F. Kennan described the consequences of having published in this journal, 30 years ago this month, the article which introduced the term "containment" to the world. Attributed only to a "Mr. X" in order to protect the author's position as Director of the State Department's new Policy Planning Staff, the article, entitled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," was nonetheless quickly revealed by Arthur Krock as having come from Kennan's pen. Ironically, its very anonymity assured it a conspicuousness Kennan's subsequent efforts to clarify his views never attained.

No article in the history of Foreign Affairs has been more frequently reprinted; none, it would also appear safe to say, has lent itself

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  • John Lewis Gaddis is Professor of History at Ohio University, currently on two-year leave as Visiting Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He is the author of The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947.
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