Institutions and Competition

Cold War Memories. A diplomat's daughter looks back

May 1, 2018

UPDATE 17 DEC In its long obituary of GFK, The Guardian notes that during the "McCarthy Era" U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy called GFK, of all people, a "commie lover." (Note- You need to read the entire article to find the reference.) The obit offers some excellent insights for those who follow efforts to characterize the current political-psychological situation between White House and the Kremlin as "the new McCarthyism" and "the new Cold War."


It is often overlooked that GFK played an important role in crafting US policy during World War 2, to wit that Washington would negotiate with the Salazar regime in Portugal to gain concessions of facilities in the Portuguese Azores islands. According to source cited in link, it was a famous Kennan "long telegram" done while he was Charge d 'affaires in Lisbon late 1943. The subsequent agreement finalized by others, enabled the US to operate an airbase with military personnel in the Azores. This base was, and remains, a key component of US logistics and communications directed at southern Europe and across Africa, and south Africa.


With relations between Moscow and Washington at an impasse Grace Kennan Warnecke's book “Daughter of the Cold War” reminds us that containing militant nationalism is as important now as it was when her father George Kennan was crafting U.S. policy. T Phis update provides access to a Wilson Center interview on You Tube in which GKW discusses her father and US foreign policy. The Wilson Center is an international organization for academics located in Washington, D.C.

GKW's book “Daughter of the Cold War” is published by The University of Pittsburgh Press.

The work is a unique memoir insofar as the author juxtaposes the timeline of her life with that of her father, offering her views on his thinking as well as an account of her own trajectory as an influencer in the male dominated American foreign policy community. In addition, it provides contextual and collateral information for students of U.S. - Russia relations.

In the original post on May 1st, we learn from a popular television interview program "Chicago Tonight" in Chicago, Illinois (that is designed for a general non-foreign policy oriented audience), among other things, that as a child living in Moscow during the Stalin era, Grace Kennan learned basic Russian by attending a people's school just like Russian kids.

Later, back in the United States, Grace studied Russian and Russian culture at Radcliffe College, the element of Harvard University that, at that time, provided education for women.

During the post-Stalin era Cold War Grace was married to the scion of the California-based McClatchy media empire, which ended in divorce. A son from that union, Kevin McClatchy, is currently chairman of the McClatchy company and is a former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team.

In 1967 GFK, who played a role in facilitating the defection of Svetlana Stalin, to the United States, recruited Grace to help Svetlana, the only known daughter of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, adjust to her new American surroundings while she repaired at the Kennan family farm in eastern Pennsylvania.

An accout of those events has just been published in Politico magazine and features excerpts from GKW's “Daughter of the Cold War.”

GKW's second marriage, to architecht John Carl Warnecke, brought her into the orbit of the Kennedy clan.

While attending Stanford University in 1940 “Jack” Warnecke was a member of the Stanford Indians american football team (the team name has been changed to The Cardinal for politically correct reasons) that won the Rose Bowl, considered at that time to be the nation's most important college football event.

Warnecke, a popular student from a prominent California Roman Catholic family, who was already showing signs of developing a larger-than-life demeanor away from the football field, and Jack” Kennedy, from a prominent Boston Irish-Catholic family and a son of the U.S Ambassador to the Court of St. James, who went west to visit Stanford and check out its Graduate School of Business... it was seemingly inevitable that that the two young men would meet at Stanford and develop a longstanding friendship.

Currently, GKW is chairman of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. She is also a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In addition, she is a member of the advisory council at the Kennan Institute, whose purpose is to improve American understanding of Russia, Ukraine and the region through research and exchange.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, GKW's book casts a long shadow. One can only wonder what kind of storytelling the legacy of Cold War diplomats like RT media gadfly Sophie Shevardnadze and NBC media celebrity Mika Brezinski will share with the world when they reach the twilight of their careers.

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