I’m in full agreement with Jonah’s post below, which covers the key points very well. I’d only add that, while “buying time” may start out as a strategy, it easily decays into a substitute for it. If you look at the “free world” in the detente era – Carter, Callaghan, Brandt, Mitterand – western leadership wasn’t “containing” Soviet totalitarianism so much as working overtime to normalize it and embed it as a permanent feature. When Trudeau retired in 1984, he took his sons to Siberia because that’s where “the future is being made”. Read the creepy letters Gerhard Schröder, then a West German pol on the make, sent to East German Politburo honchos. To Honecker’s Number Two, Egon Krenz:
I will certainly need the endurance you have wished me in this busy election year. But you will certainly also need great strength and good health for your People’s Chamber election.
Well, except that, on one side of the wall, the election result was not in doubt. But why quibble over details?
As for the Long Telegram, this time round it’s the other guys who figure that time is on their side.