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Definition: United States foreign policy introduced at the start of the Cold War, aimed at stopping the spread of Communism and keeping it 'contained' and isolated within its current borders, otherwise the 'domino effect' would occur, where if one nation became Communist, the surrounding ones would follow. The policy emerged at a time when Eastern Europe was under the military, and increasing political, control of the Soviet Union, and when Western European countries appeared to be wobbling from their democracies because of socialist agitation and collapsing economies. The doctrine was expanded to cover the world, leading to US involvement in Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere.

Containment was first outlined in George Kennan's 'Long Telegram' sent from his position in the US Embassy in Moscow to the United States. It arrived on February 22 1946 and circulated widely round the US government. He then made it public in an article called "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", also known as the X Article because the authorship was attributed to X. Containment was adopted by US President Truman as part of his Truman Doctrine. Containment remained central to American foreign policy throughout the Cold War, officially ending with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Commentators have since discussed 'containment' with regards to Iraq and China.

"Containment also led to other initiatives: in 1947 the CIA spent large amounts to influence the result of Italy's elections, helping the Christian Democrats defeat the Communist party."
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