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Truman Doctrine

For years, Britain had supported Greece, but was now

near bankruptcy and was forced to radically reduce its in-
volvement. In February 1947, Britain formally requested
for the United States to take over its role in support-
ing the Greeks and their government.[4] 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 eect was to end
the communist threat, and in 1952, both Greece and
Turkey joined NATO, a military alliance, to guarantee
their protection.[5]
The Truman Doctrine was informally extended to be-
come the basis of American Cold War policy through-
out Europe and around the world.[6] It shifted American
U.S. President Harry S. Truman foreign policy toward the Soviet Union from dtente (a
relaxation of tension) to a policy of containment of So-
viet expansion as advocated by diplomat George Kennan.
The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy It was distinguished from rollback by implicitly tolerating
created to counter Soviet geopolitical spread during the the previous Soviet takeovers in Eastern Europe.
Cold War. It was rst announced to Congress by Presi-
dent Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947[1]:547-9 and fur-
ther developed on July 12, 1948 when he pledged to con-
tain Soviet threats to Greece and Turkey. American mil- 1 Turkish Straits crisis
itary force was usually not involved, but Congress appro-
priated free gifts of nancial aid to support the economies Main article: Turkish Straits crisis
and the military of Greece and Turkey. More gener- At the conclusion of World War II, Turkey was pressured
ally, the Truman doctrine implied American support for
other nations threatened by Soviet communism. The Tru-
man Doctrine became the foundation of American for- 30
eign policy, and led, in 1949, to the formation of NATO,
a military alliance that is still in eect. Historians often
Black Sea
use Trumans speech to date the start of the Cold War.
Truman told Congress that it must be the policy of the
United States to support free people who are resisting at- Istanbul
Sea of
tempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside Marmara

pressures.[2] Truman reasoned that because the totali- 40 anakkale

tarian regimes coerced free peoples, they represented a

threat to international peace and the national security of Aegean
the United States. Truman made the plea amid the cri- Sea Turkey
sis of the Greek Civil War (194649). He argued that if
Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid that they ur-
gently needed, they would inevitably fall to communism
with grave consequences throughout the region. Because The Turkish Straits
Turkey and Greece were historic rivals, it was necessary
to help both equally even though the threat to Greece was by the Soviet government to allow Russian shipping to
more immediate. Historian Eric Foner argues the Tru- ow freely through the Turkish Straits, which connected
man Doctrine set a precedent for American assistance to the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. As the Turkish gov-
anticommunist regimes throughout the world, no matter ernment would not submit to the Soviet Unions requests,
how undemocratic, and for the creation of a set of global tensions arose in the region, leading to a show of naval
military alliances directed against the Soviet Union.[3] force on the side of the Soviets. Since British assistance


to Turkey had ended in 1947, the U.S. dispatched military moved from being wartime allies to Cold War adver-
aid to ensure that Turkey would retain chief control of the saries. Soviet imperialism in Eastern Europe, its delayed
passage. Turkey received $100 million in economic and withdrawal from Iran, and the breakdown of Allied co-
military aid and the U.S sent the aircraft carrier Franklin operation in Germany provided a backdrop of escalating
D. Roosevelt. The postwar period from 1946 started with tensions for the Truman Doctrine.[6] To Harry S. Truman,
a "multi-party period" and the Democratic Party govern- the growing unrest in Greece began to look like a pincer
ment of Adnan Menderes.[7] movement against the oil-rich areas of the Middle East
and the warm-water ports of the Mediterranean.[10]

2 Greek crisis
Main article: Greek Civil War
In the second stage of the civil war in December 1944

George F. Kennan (1904-2005) proposed the doctrine of

containment in 1946.

In February 1946, Kennan, an American diplomat in

Moscow, sent his famed "Long Telegram", which pre-
dicted the Soviets would only respond to force and that
the best way to handle them would be through a long-
King George II of Greece (r. 1922-4, 1935-47), whose rule was term strategy of containment, that is stopping their geo-
opposed by a communist insurgency in the Greek Civil War graphical expansion. After the British warned that they
could no longer help Greece, and following Prime Min-
(The Dekemvriana), the British helped prevent the seizure ister Konstantinos Tsaldaris's visit to Washington in De-
of Athens by the National Liberation Front (EAM), con- cember 1946 to ask for American assistance,[11] the U.S.
trolled eectively by the Greek Communist Party (KKE). State Department formulated a plan. Aid would be given
In the third phase (194649), guerrilla forces controlled to both Greece and Turkey, to help cool the long-standing
by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) fought against the rivalry between them.
internationally recognized Greek government which was
American policy makers recognized the instability of
formed after 1946 elections boycotted by the KKE. The
the region, fearing that if Greece was lost to commu-
British realized that the Greek leftists were being directly
nism, Turkey would not last long. Similarly, if Turkey
funded by Josip Broz Tito in neighboring Yugoslavia;
yielded to Soviet demands, the position of Greece would
the Greek communists received little help directly from
be endangered.[12] A regional domino eect threat there-
the Soviet Union, while Yugoslavia provided support and
fore guided the American decision. Greece and Turkey
sanctuary.[8] By late 1946, Britain informed the United
were strategic allies important for geographical reasons
States that due to its own weakening economy, it could no
as well, for the fall of Greece would put the Soviets on a
longer continue to provide military and economic support
particularly dangerous ank for the Turks, and strengthen
to Greece.[9] the Soviet Unions ability to cut o allied supply lines in
In 194647, the United States and the Soviet Union the event of war.[13]

3 Trumans address through economic and nancial aid which is es-

sential to economic stability and orderly polit-
ical processes.[1]:547

The reaction to Trumans speech was broadly positive,

though there were dissenters. Anti-communists in both
parties supported both Trumans proposed aid package
and the doctrine behind it, and Colliers described it as
a popularity jackpot for the president.[1]:548[14]:129 In-
uential columnist Walter Lippmann was more skepti-
cal, noting the open-ended nature of Trumans pledge; he
felt so strongly that he almost came to blows while ar-
guing with Acheson over the doctrine.[1]:549[15]:615 Oth-
ers argued that the Greek monarchy Truman proposed to
defend was itself a repressive government, rather than a
Despite these objections, the fear of the growing com-
munist threat almost guaranteed the bills passage.[15]:616
In May 1947, two months after Trumans request, a large
majority of Congress approved $400 million in military
and economic aid to Greece and Turkey.[1]:553-4[14]:129
Dean Acheson (18931971), who helped craft Trumans doc- Increased American aid helped defeat the KKE, af-
trine, was named his Secretary of State the following year. ter interim defeats for government forces from 1946 to
1948.[15]:616-17 The Truman Doctrine was the rst in a se-
To pass any legislation Truman needed the support of the ries of containment moves by the United States, followed
Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress. by economic restoration of Western Europe through the
The chief Republican spokesman Senator Arthur H. Marshall Plan and military containment by the creation
Vandenberg strongly supported Truman and overcame of NATO in 1949.
the doubts of isolationists such as Senator Robert A.
Taft.[14]:127 Truman laid the groundwork for his request
by having key congressional leaders meet with himself, 4 Long-term policy and metaphor
Secretary of State George Marshall, and Undersecretary
of State Dean Acheson. Acheson laid out the domino
The Truman Doctrine underpinned American Cold War
theory in the starkest terms, comparing a communist
policy in Europe and around the world. In the words of
state to a rotten apple that could spread its infection to
historian James T. Patterson, The Truman Doctrine was
an entire barrel. Vandenberg was impressed, and advised
a highly publicized commitment of a sort the administra-
Truman to appear before Congress and scare the hell out
[14]:127-8 tion had not previously undertaken. Its sweeping rhetoric,
of the American people. On March 7, Acheson
promising that the United States should aid all 'free peo-
warned Truman that Greece could fall to the communists
[1]:545 ple' being subjugated, set the stage for innumerable later
within weeks without outside aid.
ventures that led to globalistic commitments. It was in
When a draft for Trumans address was circulated to pol- these ways a major step.[14]:129
icymakers, Marshall, Kennan, and others criticized it for
The doctrine endured, historian Dennis Merill argues, be-
containing excess rhetoric. Truman responded that, as
cause it addressed a broader cultural insecurity regarding
Vandenberg had suggested, his request would only be ap-
modern life in a globalized world. It dealt with Wash-
proved if he played up the threat.[1]:546
ingtons concern over communisms domino eect, it en-
On March 12, 1947, President Truman appeared before a abled a media-sensitive presentation of the doctrine that
joint session of Congress. In his eighteen-minute speech, won bipartisan support, and it mobilized American eco-
he stated: nomic power to modernize and stabilize unstable regions
without direct military intervention. It brought nation-
I believe it must be the policy of the United building activities and modernization programs to the
States to support free peoples who are resisting forefront of foreign policy.[6]
attempted subjugation by armed minorities or The Truman Doctrine became a metaphor for emergency
by outside pressures. aid to keep a nation from communist inuence. Truman
I believe that we must assist free peoples to used disease imagery not only to communicate a sense
work out their own destinies in their own way. of impending disaster in the spread of communism but
I believe that our help should be primarily also to create a rhetorical vision of containing it by ex-

tending a protective shield around non-communist coun- [10] Painter 2012, p. 29: Although circumstances diered
tries throughout the world. It echoed the "quarantine greatly in Greece, Turkey, and Iran, U.S. ocials inter-
the aggressor" policy Trumans predecessor, Franklin D. preted events in all three places as part of a Soviet plan
Roosevelt, had sought to impose to contain German and to dominate the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle
Japanese expansion in 1937--(quarantine suggested the East. Mention of oil was deliberately deleted from Pres-
ident Harry S. Trumans March 12, 1947, address be-
role of public health ocials handling an infectious dis-
fore Congress pledging resistance to communist expan-
ease). The medical metaphor extended beyond the im- sion anywhere in the world; but guarding access to oil was
mediate aims of the Truman Doctrine in that the imagery an important part of the Truman Doctrine. The Truman
combined with re and ood imagery evocative of disas- Doctrine was named after Harry S. Truman. This doc-
ter provided the United States with an easy transition to trine stated that that the United States would provide po-
direct military confrontation in later years with commu- litical, military and economic assistance to all democratic
nist forces in Korea and Vietnam. By ideological dier- nations under threat from external or internal authoritar-
ences in life or death terms, Truman was able to garner ian forces.
support for this communism-containing policy.[16] One draft, for example, of Trumans speech spoke of
the great natural resources of the Middle East at stake
(Kolko & Kolko 1972, p. 341).
5 See also [11] Freeland, Richard M. (1970). The Truman Doctrine and
the Origins of McCarthyism. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. pp. g.
Liberal internationalism 90.

[12] Spalding, Elizabeth Edwards (2006). The First Cold War-

Reverse course rior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of
Liberal Internationalism. The University Press of Ken-
TurkeyUnited States relations tucky. p. 64.
Greece-United States relations [13] McGhee, George (1990). The US-Turkish-NATO Middle
East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine Contained the
Soviets in the Middle East. St. Harrys Press. pp. g. 21.
6 References [14] Patterson, James T. (1996). Grand Expectations. New
York: Oxford University Press.
[1] McCullough, David (1992). Truman. New York: Simon
[15] Herring, George C. (2008). From Colony to Superpower:
& Schuster.
U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776. New York: Oxford
[2] Michael Beschloss (2006). Our Documents: 100 Milestone University Press. ISBN 9780195078220.
Documents From The National Archives. Oxford Univer- [16] Ivie 1999.
sity Press. pp. 19499. ISBN 978-0-19-530959-1.

[3] Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History (2nd

ed. 2008) p 892 7 Bibliography
[4] Alan Bullock, Ernest Bevin: Foreign Secretary pp 3689;
Beisner, Robert L. Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold
Arnold Oner, Another Such Victory: President Truman
and the Cold War, 19452002 (2002) p 197; Denise M.
War (2006)
Bostdor, Proclaiming the Truman Doctrine (2008) p 51 Bostdor, Denise M. Proclaiming the Truman Doc-
[5] George McGhee, The U.S.-Turkish-NATO Middle East
trine: The Cold War Call to Arms (2008) excerpt and
Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and Turkeys text search
NATO Entry Contained the Soviets in the Middle East,
Bullock, Alan. Ernest Bevin: Foreign Secretary,
19451951 (1983) on British roles
[6] Merrill 2006.
Edwards, Lee. Congress and the Origins of the
[7] Barn Kayaolu, Strategic imperatives, Democratic Cold War: The Truman Doctrine, World Aairs,
rhetoric: The United States and Turkey, 194552. Cold Vol. 151, 1989 online edition
War History, Aug 2009, Vol. 9(3) pp. 321345
Frazier, Robert. Acheson and the Formulation
[8] Brentzen, Lars, John O. Iatrides, and Ole Langwitz. of the Truman Doctrine Journal of Modern Greek
Smith. Studies in the History of the Greek Civil War, 1945 Studies 1999 17(2): 229251. ISSN 0738-1727
1949. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 1987. 276.
Google Books. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. online Frazier, Robert. Kennan, 'Universalism,' and the
Truman Doctrine, Journal of Cold War Studies,
[9] Bullock, Ernest Bevin: Foreign Secretary (1983) ch 8 Spring 2009, Vol. 11 Issue 2, pp 334

Gaddis, John Lewis. Reconsiderations: Was the Oner, Arnold A. "'Another Such Victory': Pres-
Truman Doctrine a Real Turning Point?" Foreign ident Truman, American Foreign Policy, and the
Aairs 1974 52(2): 386402. ISSN 0015-7120 Cold War. Diplomatic History 1999 23(2): 127
155.ISSN 0145-2096
Hinds, Lynn Boyd, and Theodore Otto Windt Jr.
The Cold War as Rhetoric: The Beginnings, 1945 Pach Jr., Chester J. Arming the Free World: The
1950 (1991) online edition Origins of the United States Military Assistance Pro-
gram, 19451950, (1991) online edition
Iatrides, John O. and Nicholas X. Rizopoulos. The
Painter, David S. (2012). Oil and the American
International Dimension of the Greek Civil War.
Century (PDF). The Journal of American History.
World Policy Journal 2000 17(1): 87103. ISSN
99 (1): 2439. doi:10.1093/jahist/jas073.
0740-2775 Fulltext: in Ebsco
Pieper, Moritz A. (2012). Containment and the
Ivie, Robert L. (1999). Fire, Flood, and Red Fever: Cold War: Reexaming the Doctrine of Containment
Motivating Metaphors of Global Emergency in the as a Grand Strategy Driving US Cold War Inter-
Truman Doctrine Speech. Presidential Studies ventions. Retrieved 22 August
Quarterly. 29 (3): 570591. doi:10.1111/j.0268- 2012.
Spalding, Elizabeth Edwards. The First Cold War-
Jerey, Judith S. Ambiguous Commitments and Un- rior: Harry Truman, Containment, And the Remak-
certain Policies: The Truman Doctrine in Greece, ing of Liberal Internationalism (2006)
19471952 (2000). 257 pp.

Jones, Howard. A New Kind of War": Americas

Global Strategy and the Truman Doctrine in Greece
8 External links
(1989). 327 pp
Truman Comments on Greek Politicking, 1947
Kayaolu, Barn. Strategic imperatives, Demo- Shapell Manuscript Foundation
cratic rhetoric: The United States and Turkey,
Truman Library website with papers related to the
194552., Cold War History, Aug 2009, Vol. 9(3).
Truman Doctrine
pp. 321345
Full text of the speech
Kolko, Joyce; Kolko, Gabriel (1972). The Limits of
Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, Full text and audio of the speech
19451954. New York, NY: Harper & Row. ISBN
978-0-06-012447-2. Cartoon on display at the LoC

Leer, Melvyn P. Strategy, Diplomacy, and the

Cold War: the United States, Turkey, and NATO,
19451952 Journal of American History 1985
71(4): 807825. ISSN 0021-8723 in JSTOR

Lykogiannis, Athanasios. Britain and the Greek Eco-

nomic Crisis, 19441947: From Liberation to the
Truman Doctrine. U. of Missouri Press, 2002. 287
pp. online edition

McGhee, George. The U.S.-Turkish-NATO Mid-

dle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and
Turkeys NATO Entry Contained the Soviets in the
Middle East. (1990). 224 pp.

Merrill, Dennis (2006). The Truman Doc-

trine: Containing Communism and Modernity.
Presidential Studies Quarterly. 36 (1): 2737.

Meiertns, Heiko: The Doctrines of US Security Pol-

icy An Evaluation under International Law (2010),
ISBN 978-0-521-76648-7.

9 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

9.1 Text
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