Truman Doctrine
Overview
 
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 and Turkey
History of Turkey
The history of the Turks begins with the migration of Oghuz Turks into Anatolia in the context of the larger Turkic expansion, forming the Seljuq Empire in the 11th century. After the Seljuq victory over forces of the Byzantine Empire in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert, the process was accelerated...

 with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 sphere
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Historians often consider it as the start of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Truman stated the Doctrine would be "the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Truman reasoned, because these "totalitarian regimes" coerced "free peoples," they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States.
Encyclopedia
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 and Turkey
History of Turkey
The history of the Turks begins with the migration of Oghuz Turks into Anatolia in the context of the larger Turkic expansion, forming the Seljuq Empire in the 11th century. After the Seljuq victory over forces of the Byzantine Empire in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert, the process was accelerated...

 with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 sphere
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Historians often consider it as the start of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Truman stated the Doctrine would be "the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Truman reasoned, because these "totalitarian regimes" coerced "free peoples," they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States. Truman made the plea amid the crisis of the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

 (1946–1949). He argued that if Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid that they urgently needed, they would inevitably fall to communism with grave consequences throughout the region.

For years Britain had supported Greece, but was now near bankruptcy and was forced to radically reduce its involvement. In February 1947, Great Britain formally requested the United States take over its role in supporting the Greek government.

The policy won the support of Republicans who controlled Congress and involved sending $400 million in American money, but no military forces, to the region. The effect was to end the Communist threat, and in 1952 both countries (Greece and Turkey) joined NATO, a military alliance that guaranteed their protection.

The Doctrine was informally extended to become the basis of American Cold War policy throughout Europe and around the world. It shifted American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 from détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

 (a relaxation of tension) to, as George F. Kennan
George F. Kennan
George Frost Kennan was an American adviser, diplomat, political scientist and historian, best known as "the father of containment" and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War...

 phrased it, a policy of containment
Containment
Containment was a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America’s security and influence abroad, and prevent a "domino effect". A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet...

 of Soviet expansion.

Regional crisis

In the year following the end of WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union moved from being wartime allies to Cold War adversaries. During that time, Soviet imperialism in Eastern Europe, its delayed withdrawal from Iran, and the breakdown of Allied cooperation in Germany provide the backdrop of escalating tensions for the Truman Doctrine; the U.S. response has been much debated by historians. Truman himself had first become suspicious in dealing with the Soviets at the Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

, the Soviet reluctance to withdraw from Iran on schedule in early March 1946, reinforced his concern. A few days later, Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech about developments in Europe. To Truman, with growing unrest in Greece, it began to look like a pincer movement against the oil-rich areas of the Middle East and the warm-water ports of the Mediterranean. Truman was critical of Secretary of State Byrnes, both over being "left in the dark" about the Moscow conference
Moscow Conference (1945)
The Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers of the United States , the United Kingdom , and the Soviet Union met in December 1945 to discuss the problems of occupation, establishing peace, and other Far East issues.The Communique issued after the Conference on December 27,...

, and that Iran had not been on the agenda. In a subsequent letter to him, Truman wrote "I think we ought to protest with all vigor... against the Russian program in Iran. ... Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language another war is in the making. Only one language do they understand...I do not think we should play compromise any longer...I am tired of babying the Soviets." On 30 January 1946 the UN Security Council approved Resolution 2
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2, adopted on January 30, 1946, encouraged Iran and the Soviet Union to resolve their conflict concerning Soviet troops occupying Iranian territory...

 concerning the Soviet withdrawal from Iran; Resolutions 3 and 5 were also approved in April and May.

In February 1946, Kennan, an American diplomat in Moscow, sent his famed "Long Telegram", which predicted the Soviets would only respond to force and that the best way to handle them would be through a long-term strategy of containment, that is stopping their geographical expansion. After the British warned that they could no longer help Greece, and following Prime Minister Tsaldaris's visit to Washington in December 1946 to ask for American assistance, the U.S. State Department formulated a plan. Aid would be given to both Greece and Turkey, to help cool the long-standing rivalry between them. In March 1947, President Truman appeared before Congress and used Kennan's Containment policy as the basis for what became known as the Truman Doctrine.

To pass any legislation Truman needed the support of the Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress. The chief Republican spokesman Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg
Arthur H. Vandenberg
Arthur Hendrick Vandenberg was a Republican Senator from the U.S. state of Michigan who participated in the creation of the United Nations.-Early life and family:...

 strongly supported Truman and overcame the doubts of isolationists such as Senator Robert A. Taft.

American policy makers recognized the instability of the region, fearing that if Greece was lost to Communism, Turkey would not last long. Similarly, if Turkey yielded to Soviet demands, the position of Greece would be endangered. That is, it was a regional domino effect
Domino effect
The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes...

 threat that guided the American decision. Greece and Turkey were strategic allies important for geographical reasons as well, for the fall of Greece would put the Soviets on a particularly dangerous flank for the Turks, and strengthen the Soviet Union's ability to cut off allied supply lines in the event of war.

The Truman Doctrine was the first in a series of containment
Containment
Containment was a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America’s security and influence abroad, and prevent a "domino effect". A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet...

 moves by the United States, followed by economic restoration of Western Europe through the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 and military containment by the creation of NATO in 1949.
President Truman made the proclamation in an address to the U.S. Congress on March 12, 1947, amid the crisis of the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

 (1946–1949). Truman insisted that if Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid that they needed, they would inevitably fall to Communism with consequences throughout the region.

In 1950, Truman signed the top-secret policy plan NSC-68
NSC-68
National Security Council Report 68 was a 58-page formerly-classified report issued by the United States National Security Council on April 14, 1950, during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Written during the formative stage of the Cold War, it was top secret until the 1970s when it was made...

, which shifted foreign policy from passive to active containment. The document differed from Kennan's original notion of containment outlined in the "X" article, containing much harsher anti-Communist rhetoric. NSC-68 explicitly stated that the Communists planned for world domination.

Greece

In the second stage of the civil war in December 1944 (The Dekimvriana), the British helped prevent the seizure of Athens by the leftist National Liberation Front (EAM), controlled effectively by the Greek Communist Party(KKE). In the third phase (1946–1949), guerrilla forces controlled by the Greek Communist Party
Communist Party of Greece
Founded in 1918, the Communist Party of Greece , better known by its acronym, ΚΚΕ , is the oldest party on the Greek political scene.- Foundation :...

 (KKE) fought against the internationally recognized Greek government which was formed after 1946 elections
Greek legislative election, 1946
These elections were marked by:* The marked abstention of voters, caused by the abstention of Communist Party of Greece, and the effects of the civil war , because of which many citizens either could not or chose not to vote....

 boycotted by the KKE. The British realized that the Greek leftists were being directly funded by Marshall Tito in neighboring Yugoslavia; the Greek communists received little help directly from the Soviet Union, while Yugoslavia provided support and sanctuary. By late 1946 the weakening British economy meant the British could no longer support Greece, and so London asked the U.S. to step in.

The U.S. Congress in May, 1947, responding to Truman's plea, granted Greece $400 million in military and economic aid. Increased American aid helped defeat the KKE, after interim defeats for government forces from 1946 to 1948.

Turkey

At the conclusion of World War II, Stalin demanded partial control of the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

, a strategic passage between the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and the Mediterranean. Since British assistance to Turkey had ended in 1947, the U.S. dispatched military aid to ensure that Turkey would retain chief control of the passage. Turkey received $100 million in economic and military aid. The postwar period from 1946 started with a "multi-party period" and a Democratic Party government of Adnan Menderes
Adnan Menderes
Adnan Menderes was the first democratically elected Turkish Prime Minister between 1950–1960. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party in 1946, the fourth legal opposition party of Turkey. He was hanged by the military junta after the 1960 coup d'état, along with two other cabinet...

.

Long-term policy and metaphor

The Truman Doctrine underpinned American Cold War policy in Europe and around the world. The doctrine endured because it addressed a broader cultural insecurity regarding modern life in a globalized world. It dealt with Washington's concern over communism's domino effect, it enabled a media-sensitive presentation of the doctrine that won bipartisan support, and it mobilized American economic power to modernize and stabilize unstable regions without direct military intervention. It brought nation-building activities and modernization programs to the forefront of foreign policy.

The Truman Doctrine became a metaphor for emergency aid to keep a nation from communist influence. Truman used disease imagery not only to communicate a sense of impending disaster in the spread of communism but also to create a "rhetorical vision" of containing it by extending a protective shield around non-communist countries throughout the world. It echoed the "quarantine the aggressor
Quarantine Speech
The Quarantine Speech was given by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on October 5, 1937, in Chicago, calling for an international "quarantine of the aggressor nations" as an alternative to the political climate of American neutrality and non-intervention that was prevalent at the time...

" policy Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to impose to contain German and Japanese expansion in 1937--("quarantine" suggested the role of public health officials handling an infectious disease). The medical metaphor extended beyond the immediate aims of the Truman Doctrine in that the imagery combined with fire and flood imagery evocative of disaster provided the United States with an easy transition to direct military confrontation in later years with communist forces in Korea and Vietnam. By presenting ideological differences in life or death terms, Truman was able to garner support for this communism-containing policy.

See also

  • Cold War
    Cold War
    The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

  • Liberal internationalism
    Liberal internationalism
    Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues that liberal states should intervene in other sovereign states in order to pursue liberal objectives. Such intervention can include both military invasion and humanitarian aid. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or...

  • Turkey – United States relations


External links

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