() — or quarantine line
— is a French
phrase that, literally translated, means "sanitary cordon". Though in French it originally denoted a barrier implemented to stop the spread of disease
, it has often been used in English in a metaphorical
sense to refer to attempts to prevent the spread of an ideology
deemed unwanted or dangerous, such as the containment
policy adopted by George F. Kennan
against the Soviet Union
Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau
is credited with the first use of the phrase as a metaphor for ideological containment. In March 1919, he urged the newly independent border states
(also called limitrophe states
) that had seceded from Russian Empire
and Soviet Russia
to form a defensive union and thus quarantine the spread of communism
to Western Europe; he called such an alliance a cordon sanitaire.
This is still probably the most famous use of the phrase, though it is sometimes used more generally to describe a set of buffer states
that form a barrier against a larger, ideologically hostile state. According to historian André Fontaine
, Clemenceau's cordon sanitaire
marked the real beginning of the Cold War
: thus, it would have started in 1919 and not in 1947 as most historians contend it did.
Beginning in the late 1980s, the term was introduced into the discourse on parliamentary politics
commentators. At that time, the......