• U.S.

Diplomacy: Goodbye to Tito

2 minute read
TIME

George Kennan, 59, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, is a scholarly yet friendly fellow who likes to receive visitors, ordinarily answers his telephone. But not last week. Newsmen calling Kennan got only aides who repeated, “No comment, no comment.” There was a reason for the reticence. Kennan did not want to make a public statement about why he is retiring from diplomatic service.

An off-and-on diplomat for 25 years, Kennan was U.S. Ambassador to Russia from March to October, 1952, won recognition as an expert on Communism, spent eight years with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and returned to the Foreign Service with the Kennedys, who posted him to Belgrade in 1961. There, he convinced himself that

U.S. foreign aid and trade concessions might really woo Tito away from Communism. A lot of Americans were skeptical, but Kennan persisted. Then, at the famed “neutralist” conference in Belgrade in September 1961, Tito pulled out the rug with a vicious anti-Western speech.

After that, the U.S. Congress decided that Tito was a lost cause. At the urgent behest of the Kennedy Administration, Congress finally approved continued foreign aid to Yugoslavia, but revoked its “favored nation” status in U.S. trade.

Kennan thereafter suffered a deep sense of betrayal—not on Tito’s part, but on that of the folks back home. Said he privately: “I feel silenced. We are paralyzed here. I would have fought like a tiger, and many Yugoslavs would have supported us. But we have silenced them too.”

Rather than take a post elsewhere, Kennan is returning to ivied halls, this time most likely at Harvard.

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