George Kennan was the State Department’s top hand on Moscow. As the U.S.-Soviet alliance unraveled after World War II, no one seemed to understand the Kremlin better than Kennan.
One of his most insightful observations was cautionary: Do not think about the standoff with the Soviet Union as principally a military confrontation.
“[Y]ou didn’t always have to occupy another country to dominate its life,” Kennan noted. “You could threaten it, or you could subvert its government by various ways, including the time-honored phenomenon of puppet government.”
The message was clear: Moscow had many ways of establishing its domination and authority.