No. 496
Editorial Note

The United States Senate confirmed the nomination of George F. Kennan as Ambassador to the Soviet Union on March 13 and President Truman announced the appointment the following day. Regarding Kennan’s nomination, see footnotes 1 and 2, Document 493. For Kennan’s brief account of Senate consideration of his nomination, see Kennan, Memoirs, 1950–1963, pages 106–107.

Kennan paid an official call on President Truman at the White House on April 1. No official record of the meeting has been found. In his own recollection of the meeting (ibid., page 107), Kennan indicates that the President gave him “no instructions of any kind”.

Kennan took the oath of office as Ambassador to the Soviet Union on April 20. In a statement issued to the press on the occasion of the oath-taking, Kennan said the following:

“My job in Moscow, as I see it, will be to implement the policies of the U.S. Government within the area of responsibility given to me. The Embassy at Moscow is only one small part of the machinery for the implementation of our foreign policy and its effectiveness is always going to depend on the extent to which the Ambassador there bears this in mind and contrives to function as a member of a team. The opportunities for service must be determined, as in the case of any other diplomatic mission, largely by circumstances, and I cannot foresee them at this time. I will be happy if the work at Moscow gives me a chance to make a contribution to the reduction of existing tensions and the improvement of the international atmosphere. Those are objectives which seem to me urgently desirable and I see no reason why they should not be within the realm of possibility, if the desire is reciprocated.” (Department of State Bulletin, April 21, 1952, page 643)

According to his account (Memoirs, 1950–1963, page 107), Kennan luncheoned with Secretary Acheson on April 2. Acheson was “cordial but very reserved” and gave no instructions to Kennan on his mission. No official record of this luncheon meeting has been found in Department of State files.