George F. Kennan, a chief architect of containment, died last night. I'm not a student of foreign policy, but have to admit that reading Kennan's "X" article, The Sources of Soviet Conflict, was a very important initial influence on my eventual development into a political scientist. I read it my senior year of high school primarily to try and understand the development of American foreign policy toward the Soviets, which was in dramatic transition at that time (it was the late 80s), but it led me to read much more widely in political philosophy, captivated by the notion that ideas can have such influence on the development of the world. In that regard, it was Parts I and II that seemed most interesting to me, rather than the more prescriptive Part III. Odd as it seems to me now, my first subscription to anything that might be called a journal of political science was Foreign Affairs.
Studying judicial institutions and actors also aptly demonstrates the influence of ideas on actions and outcomes and, not surprisingly, that's the approach I take in much of my work. But my initial interest in such subjects was in foreign affairs and I still maintain an interest in that area.
Neglected earlier in the week, I'd also like to take a moment to note the passing of Lyn Collins, whose stint as a singer with the James Brown Revue (following Vicki Anderson) and a solo act led eventually to widespread renown in hip-hop as the vocal sample providing the title to It Takes Two from Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. Although her current fame can be traced in large part to that song, it's well worth checking out Collins' (who is, in fact, from the same family as Bootsy and Catfish) other work, if you don't know her by now.