The end of the cold war brought relief, even joy, for most Americans. With the crumbling of the Eastern bloc in 1989, more than four decades of anxiety seemed to be over. One of the few discordant voices came, surprisingly, from George Kennan, the former United States diplomat who had devised the "containment" policy widely considered responsible for the Western triumph. "I believe it would have happened earlier," Kennan lamented less than a month after Germans began chipping holes in the Berlin Wall, "if we had not insisted on militarizing the rivalry."
Kennan did not specify who was responsible for making the cold war longer and more dangerous than it needed to be. But Paul Nitze, a onetime State Department colleague who had helped shape foreign policy under every president from Roosevelt to the first Bush, surely ranked high on his list of culprits.