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A New Realism

A Realistic and Principled Foreign Policy

Democratic Presidential candidates and U.S. Senator Barack Obama; Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico; and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton stand for the National Anthem during the 30th annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa, September 16, 2007. Joshua Lott /Reuters

Sixty years ago, in the pages of this magazine, George Kennan presented a compelling case for U.S. global engagement and leadership to contain Soviet power. His strategic vision laid the foundation for a realistic and principled foreign policy that, despite mistakes and setbacks, united the United States and its allies for the duration of the Cold War.

In the wake of the Bush administration's failed experiment with unilateralism, the United States needs once again to construct a foreign policy that is based on reality and loyal to American values. Such a policy must address the challenges of our time with effective actions rather than naive hopes. And it must unite us because it is inspired by the ideals of our nation rather than by the ideology of a president.

In his July 1947 "X" article, Kennan argued that the United States must meet Soviet power with American power and communist

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