June 5th, 2014
09:27 PM ET

The perils of leaning forward

By Fareed Zakaria

In the late 1940s, the United States was stronger than any country in modern history, with total economic supremacy, hundreds of thousands of troops still in Europe and Asia and credibility earned by waging two world wars. Yet, in a sense, it was unable to deter the Soviet Union or China or even North Korea. This is not to say that the Truman administration’s foreign policy is to be blamed — I admire Harry Truman greatly. Rather, I mean that in a complicated world, even if you have tremendous strength and act forcefully, stuff happens.

Today’s task is far more complicated. In World War II and the Cold War, the United States was trying to defeat entirely the great powers it was arrayed against. In the Cold War, the object of containment — as George Kennan argued from the start — was to constrain the Soviet Union such that communism would collapse under its own contradictions.

The goal today is to deter China from expanding while also attempting to integrate it into the global order.

Read the Washington Post column

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. bobcat2u

    Yeah, leaning forward can be perilous. Especially if you are standing at the edge of a steep cliff.

    June 5, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      I am leaning forward for my pepperoni pizza.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
  2. George patton

    George Kennan is the architect of most of this country's problems today. He mislead this country into believing the threat the Soviet Union was not. In fact, mauled by huge losses from WW2, the Russians were hardly a threat to anybody. George Kennan was the proverbial boy who cried "wolf". Since then, this has always had the wrong priorities while the politicians in Washington live in splendor with their ill gotten wealth!!!

    June 6, 2014 at 1:10 am |
    • George Patton

      There goes that joker stealing my name again. He just won't quit! More extreme left wing blah blah blah. George Kennan had it right. At a time when America didn't understand communist Russia, Mr. Kennan did. His model of communist containment was the best thing this country did at that time.
      I just wish that Sarah Palin joker would stop using my name.
      This clown has got to go!

      June 6, 2014 at 7:22 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Let me tell you what gets my goat, George. Here you have a poser at 1:10 a.m. discrediting your name with some Tea Party mumble jumble just for his own amusement. The audacity! We all know Stalin wanted to spread communism into China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. They had to be countered. Hence the Truman administration became associated with NATO.
      Does your little troll care? No. He just bables on like a little child. He's probably some teenager living at home with his parents posting his mumble jumble for kicks.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:31 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Yes..I like pepperoni pizza...

        June 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
    • Tom Posey

      George, Joseph, good morning. NATO lives on. It is time to overthrow the Putin thug government as we did in Iraq and install a more western friendly government. Lord knows we need one.
      I am sorry George, but this Sarah Palin name thief will never stop.
      He does the same to me all the time.
      This bozo has got to go. It's as simple as that!

      June 6, 2014 at 7:39 am |
      • Tom Posey

        I like pepperoni pizza so much.

        June 6, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      George, Joseph, and Tom. Thank you. You said it all. I applaud you.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:43 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        I agree with George patton (1:10 am), whoever you are. As the true Joey here, I do see why we now have the wrong priorities as the true George above has pointed out. Even a three-year-old can see that!

        June 6, 2014 at 9:44 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Please monsieur, stop the gibberish under my name as it is not becoming of you to be such a fool.

        June 6, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Frank Anderson

      You nailed it again, George. I was going to say the same thing here. Thank you.

      June 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    I wish that the USA could lean toward its 1959 location, in any direction required to get there.

    June 6, 2014 at 5:20 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      I only want pepperoni on my pizza. I will add the red dry Chile.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    The more "progress" the USA makes, the more beauty I see in what we left behind: baby, bathwater syndrome.
    HILLARY 2016!

    June 6, 2014 at 5:25 am |
  5. NATO Alliance

    But Koreans are divided politically, but not in their 'secret korean military enemies intelligence networks'. We need to kick-out also South Korean businesses from USA. Neither China, nor Koreas – should not have a place in the West.

    June 6, 2014 at 7:44 am |
    • NATO Alliance

      I want a thin and crispy pepperoni pizza now!

      June 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
  6. rupert

    Oh no u don't. Leave the sk alone. I like their smart phones. I have one. Made with sk technology. Only kind of slow with american internet technology.

    June 6, 2014 at 8:04 am |
  7. rupert

    And leave the chinese alone too. We need their beef & broccoli and orange chicken and noodles and egg rolls.
    Lets kick out the Germans. Their food is stale and their beer is too bitter.

    June 6, 2014 at 8:07 am |
  8. rupert

    Except for Heineken and German Brats over a layer of warm sauerkraut and topped with mustard.. You can leave those here. They are all MINE.

    June 6, 2014 at 8:16 am |
  9. rupert

    Passwort. Add a side order of potato salad please.

    June 6, 2014 at 9:56 am |
  10. chri§§y

    Lmao a whole lot of copy and paste going on here. Its like a bad episode of the three stooges only its just ONE stooge trying to play the part of all three.....and failing miserably! And how many times are ya gonna resurect that poor goat? Let him rip already!

    June 6, 2014 at 11:31 am |
  11. No China, no S.Korea

    NATO-EU-USA alliance: no China, no S.Korea.

    June 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
  12. rupert©

    Hello chrissy.
    Fact: This is my first post of the day. I had nothing to do with any of the posts above.
    Someone has hi jacked my name and my icon to discredit me. I don't know who it is, but when I find out !###!###.

    June 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
  13. rupert©

    South Korea gave us the song "Con.dom Style" and samsung. You leave SK alone!

    June 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
  14. chri§§y

    Lol no one can hijack your icon rupert. And i wasnt referring to you anyway lmao.

    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • chrissy

      I do like pepperoni pizza after all.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
  15. j. von hettlingen

    It comes as no surprise! Kagan, whose project "the New American centry" is supported by a bunch of hawks like Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton, who believe in a strong military and a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American interests. Their goal is to promote American global leadership.

    June 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Although Americans still take pride in being the world's sole superpower and the alpha dog of global pack, it has a hard time to face "new powers — such as China — rise and old ones — such as Russia — flex their muscles". After two costly wars, the US had been in a deep economic recession. American people are war-weary and tend to get pessimistic. The feeling of lagging behind is nothing new. Their country had in the past gone through periods of declinism, while seeing other countries passing it, be it Soviet Union, Ja pan and now China.

      June 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
    • George patton

      Today j. Von hettlingen, we're all paying for this gigantic piece of stupidity!!!

      June 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      I eat pepperoni pizza but add onions and sau.sage.

      June 6, 2014 at 7:06 pm |
  16. George patton

    I like my pizza with extra pepperoni.

    June 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm |

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