Monday, October 1, 2007

The Long Sub-Space Transmission err uhh I mean Telegram

John Podhoretz adds this great Star Trek Week parody of George Kennan's Long Telegram, or the Mr. X article, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" published in Foreign Affairs in 1947.

The Sources of Klingon Conduct

This is an excerpt from a classic essay first drafted as a memo to Federation Headquarters by an anonymous Vulcan diplomat and published in Interstellar Affairs in its Stardate 1114.3 issue. The essay had an enormous impact on the decision to pursue a confrontational policy toward the Klingons. Its author was later revealed to be Kennok, who would spend the balance of his career disavowing much of the intragalactic policy that was made partly as a result of it.
There can no longer be any doubt that the aggressive conduct of the Klingon Empire is irredentist in nature, its purpose to spread its sphere of influence beyond the Neutral Zone. This presents a new kind of threat to the galactic order, as the Klingon conduct does not comport with classic models of planetary self-interest. Rather, their intent is ideological in nature. They seek not to influence but to convert, not to find an atmospheric cushion but to create a gravitational pull toward a set of beliefs. Their evangel is by definition destabilizing and dangerous, since it postulates its own superiority, a superiority that will be demonstrated by conquest….

[O]ur goal must be to contain the menace through a series of means that will reveal the hollowness of a society which seeks its own perpetuation only through expansion. If we can contain the Klingons by restricting their sphere of influence to the planets immediately on their borders and sealed within the contours of the Neutral Zone boundary, eventually it will collapse of its own internal contradictions…The thoughtful observer of Federation-Klingon relations will experience a certain gratitude for a Providence which, by providing the peoples of the Federation with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a planetary alliance dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.

Obviously this is a huge inside baseball parody that most people would not get without much explanation. This is sad because Kennan's article formed the basis of US foreign policy (with some tweaking by NSC-68) toward the Soviet Union throughout most of the Cold War: containment.

Ask a high-school student, or even a college senior who George Kennan was, and why he was important, and a blank stare will be your most common response. This type of history is rarely taught anymore, and if it is, it is to twist the real significance of Kennan's influence to portray the United States as the aggressor in the Cold War.

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