George Kennan stands out in the intellectual history of American foreign policy and a tremendous influence on IR scholarship. He helped set the terms of the cold war via his recommendation of containment of the Soviet Union. As a practitioner of Realism, he set a particular model for those who followed--that dispassionate weighing of interests should be the focus, not ideology.
Yet it turns out that he was just a wee bit misanthropic if you believe what was written about him ... by himself. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic. Actually, it looks like he had contempt for everyone, but labels existed for certain folks.
This was known before to some degree, but proven quite decisively with Kennan's diaries now being published. I cannot be the only one who read some of Kennan's stuff while in college, and pondered whether I could follow his path. So glad I have not, for a variety of reasons.
The question then becomes: are all Realists who advocate for dispassionate analyses of International Relations misanthropes? Is it inherent in Realism as an outlook? Certainly, some make it appear to be the case (what is the blog equivalent of a sub-tweet?). Yet those who encountered Ken Waltz, the scholar that shaped academic Realism as much or more than Kennan shaped the policy world's version, would say no. Waltz may have had his fights with his colleagues, but he sure seemed like a nice person to most of the folks who interacted with him. Critical? Sure. Stubborn? Of course. But misanthropic? Not so much. [Oh, and see here for a previous Spew on Realism]
Of course, I could say that I have some friends who are realists and they don't seem so bad.... And, yes, I have some Realist streaks in my thinking--that power matters in shaping outcomes. I just don't think it matters as much in shaping interests.
Kennan was exceptional in many ways. A self-identified Cassandra, who uttered many warnings that others did not hear. Ok, that is not so exceptional. But the average Realist these days is not the misanthrope that Kennan actually was. That makes him an exception. Not all Realists have hearts of gold, of course. They vary as much as countries in the world, even as they ascribe to these various countries some kind of homogeneity. I refuse to do the same to Realists--they are many different kinds. And that is a good thing.