Truman Doctrine

Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was a proclamation by U.S. President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947. It stated that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey economically and militarily to prevent their falling under Soviet control. Truman called upon the U.S. to "support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," [President Harry S Truman's address before a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947,] which generalized his hopes for Greece and Turkey into a doctrine applicable throughout the world. The Soviet Union was clearly at the heart of Truman's thoughts, but the nation was never directly mentioned in his speech. As Edler states, Truman was attempting to solve Eastern Europe's instability while making sure the spread of communism would not affect nations like Greece and Turkey.

The Truman Doctrine represented the hard side of containment policy, while the Marshall Plan constituted the soft side. The declaration of the Truman Doctrine was followed by the end of tripartism (coalition governments that included communists).


Harry S Truman, supported by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg and the Republican-controlled Congress, promulgated this doctrine after a visit from the Greek Prime Minister. “At the urging of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tsaldaris of Greece visited Washington in December 1946 to plead for additional American assistance.” [cite book |author=Freeland, Richard M. |title=The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthyism |publisher=Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. |year=1970 |pages=Pg. 90] Aid was agreed by the United States government to be given to both Greece, and Turkey. It was an early response to a perceived political involvement by the Soviet Union in Europe and Asia, as suggested by the Communist movements in Turkey and Greece.

The United States gave aid to Greece and Turkey for both political and military reasons. The political reasons the United States gave aid to Turkey and Greece were because they were still holding off the Communist threat, and could still be saved from communism. The situation was very important for the west, “If Greece was lost, Turkey would become an untenable outpost in a sea of communism. Similarly, if Turkey yielded to Soviet demands, the position of Greece would be extremely endangered [cite book |author=Spalding, Elizabeth Edwards |title=The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism |publisher=The University Press of Kentucky |year=2006 |pages=64] .” It was a regional domino effect threat that guided the United States' decision. The military aspect of losing Greece and Turkey was also a huge factor in granting the 1 million dollars. The United States was cautious of a third World War at this time, and needed military advantages over the Soviet Union if they were to win. Greece and Turkey turned out to be very important, “The failure of the West to prevent a communist takeover in Greece would not only put the Russians on a particularly dangerous flank for the Turks, but strengthen the Soviet Union’s ability to cut off allied supplies and assistance in the event of war." [cite book |author=McGhee, George |title=The US-Turkish-NATO Middle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine Contained the Soviets in the Middle East |publisher=St. Martin’s Press |year=1990 |pages=Pg. 21] With both the political and military benefits of assisting Turkey and Greece, the United States felt compelled to pass the Truman Doctrine.

The Truman Doctrine was the first in a series of containment moves by the United States, followed by economic restoration of Western Europe through The Marshall Plan and military containment by the creation of NATO in 1949. In Truman's words, it became "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Using a framing rhetoric that continues to have resonance today, Truman reasoned that because these "totalitarian regimes" coerced "free peoples," they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States.

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 (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.

Truman signed the act into law on May 22, 1947. It granted $400 million ($300 million to Greece and $100 million to Turkey) in military and economic aid. The economic aid was to be used in repairing the infrastructure of these countries, and military aid came in the form of military personnel to supervise and help with the reconstruction of these countries while training soldiers. This American aid was in many ways a replacement for British aid, which the British were no longer financially in a position to give. The policy of containment and opposition to Communists in Greece for example was carried out by the British before 1947 in many of the same ways it was carried out afterward by the Americans.

The doctrine also had consequences elsewhere in Europe. Governments in Western Europe with powerful Communist movements such as Italy and France were given a variety of assistance and encouraged to keep Communist groups out of government. In some respects, these moves were in response to moves made by the Soviet Union to purge opposition groups in Eastern Europe out of existence.

In 1950, Truman signed the top-secret policy plan NSC-68, which shifted foreign policy from passive to active containment. The document differed from George F. Kennan's original notion of containment outlined in his "X" article, containing much harsher anti-Communist rhetoric. NSC-68 explicitly stated that the Communists planned for world domination. While this was likely an aim of Lenin, it may well have been abandoned by Stalin by 1950.

The Truman Doctrine can also be compared to the rationale for America's first involvements in the Vietnam War. Starting shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, Truman attempted to aid France's bid to hold onto its Vietnamese colonies. The United States supplied French forces with equipment and military advisors in order to combat Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Minh movement.

ee also

*Domino theory
*Liberal internationalism
*Turkish-American relations


* Frazier, Robert. "Acheson and the Formulation of the Truman Doctrine" "Journal of Modern Greek Studies" 1999 17(2): 229-251. ISSN|0738-1727
* Gaddis, John Lewis. "Reconsiderations: Was the Truman Doctrine a Real Turning Point?" "Foreign Affairs" 1974 52(2): 386-402. ISSN|0015-7120
* Ivie, Robert L. "Fire, Flood, and Red Fever: Motivating Metaphors of Global Emergency in the Truman Doctrine Speech." "Presidential Studies Quarterly" 1999 29(3): 570-591. ISSN|0360-4918
* Jeffrey, Judith S. "Ambiguous Commitments and Uncertain Policies: The Truman Doctrine in Greece, 1947-1952" Lexington, 2000. 257 pp.
* Jones, Howard. "A New Kind of War": America's Global Strategy and the Truman Doctrine in Greece" Oxford U. Press, 1989. 327 pp
* Leffler, Melvyn P. "Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Cold War: the United States, Turkey, and NATO, 1945-1952" "Journal of American History" 1985 71(4): 807-825. ISSN|0021-8723
* McGhee, George. "The U.S.-Turkish-NATO Middle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and Turkey's NATO Entry Contained the Soviets in the Middle East." St. Martin's, 1990. 224 pp.
* Merrill, Dennis. "The Truman Doctrine: Containing Communism and Modernity" "Presidential Studies Quarterly" 2006 36(1): 27-37. ISSN|0360-4918
* Offner, Arnold A. "'Another Such Victory': President Truman, American Foreign Policy, and the Cold War." "Diplomatic History" 1999 23(2): 127-155. ISSN|0145-2096
* Spalding, Elizabeth Edwards. "The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, And the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism" (2006)Aaron

External links

* [ Truman Library website with papers related to the Truman Doctrine]
* [ Full text of the speech]

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