The Truman Doctrine


The Truman Doctrine Essay, Research Paper

The Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was the force for the change in United States foreign policy, from isolationism to internationalism; which was the main reason of the involvement into the two wars of containment and into world affairs. The Truman Doctrine began a major change in U.S. Foreign policy, from its beginning, aid to Turkey and Greece, to its influence on Korea and Vietnam. The aftermath of WWII inspired the U.S. to issue a doctrine that would stop Communist influence throughout the world. However, the U.S.’s passion in the achievement of the Truman Doctrine sent our soldiers to die in Vietnam and Korea for a pointless cause.

“It must be the policy of the U.S. to support free peoples. This is no more than a

frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples?undermine

the foundations of? peace and security of the United States.”

The Truman Doctrine would change the foreign policy of the United States. This policy would first go in aid to support the democratic governments in Turkey and Greece. These nations were being threatened by rebels, which were supported by the Soviet Union, to topple the government and install a Communist regime.

A direct influence of this Doctrine was the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was designed to give aid to any European country damaged during WWII. It tremendously helped ravaged European Nations such as Italy and France. By helping them economically, The Marshall Plan indirectly helped to suppress growing Communist sentiment in these countries.

The process whereby the Truman Doctrine came to fruitions was a long and arduous one. After WWII, the Soviet Union and the United States stood at the pinnacle of world power. By the late ’40’s, the U.S.S.R. had caught up to the United States’ nuclear weapons programs. In addition, they were very land-hungry. Throughout Russia’s history, they have been in search of a port. The Soviets in that respect were direct threats to their non-Communist neighbors; Greece, Turkey, and Iran.

In Iran, the U.S.S.R. was not evacuating Iran’s northern provinces despite entreaties from the United States. In Turkey, the Soviet Union coveted several naval bases along the Straits of Dardanelles. Further, they pressured Turkey for border cessions that Turkey had taken form Russia after World War I.

In Greece, the Soviets encouraged the rising leader Markos Vafiades with arms and economic support. The British troops which were helping the Grecian government were strangled of supplies due to poor economic times in Britain.

When Truman saw the deteriorating relations that the U.S. had with the Soviet Union, he issued two statements about “agreements, violations, reparations, and Soviet actions threatening U.S. security.” “1. The Middle is of strategic importance to the U.S.S.R. 2. The U.S. must be prepared to wage atomic and biological warfare.” (Ferrel 247) Soon after, he sent bombers to the Middle East. He wanted the return of all arms given to the U.S.S.R. under the Lend-Lease Act.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Russia intends an invasion of Turkey and

seizure of the Black Sea straits to the Mediterranean. Unless Russia is faced with

an iron fist and strong language another war is in the making, How many

divisions have you?”

Truman had his eye on the Soviets and on war. However, the U.S.S.R. never made such invasions and thus calmed Truman’s fears.

The Truman Doctrine was starting to develop during 1947 when Truman issued several statements.

1. The present Russian ambassador does not belong in Washington.

2. Urge Stalin to pay us a visit.

3. Settle the Korean question, give them their own government

4. Settle the Manchurian question, support Chang Kai-Shek for a strong China.

5. Agree to discussion of Russia’s lend-lease debt to the U.S.

6. Agree to commercial air treaty.

7. Make it plain that we have no territorial ambitions. That we only want peace, but we’ll fight for it!

After these announcements the British revealed that they could no longer give aid to Turkey and Greece and that the U.S. must pick up the slack. This left Greece in extreme danger of toppling into Communist control. “If Greece fell? Turkey isolated in the Eastern Mediterranean, would eventually succumb?”

Truman’s plan for peacetime aid – The Truman Doctrine – was unprecedented (a sum of more than $400 million) and he faced a Republican Congress that was unreceptive through which he had to pass his plan. Truman informed Congress of the troubles facing Italy, Germany, and France. They and other small, Middle-eastern countries faced threats from Communism. Congress came back with problems found in Truman’s plan which included: The Greek government was corrupt and not democratic, and neither was Turkey. Turkey had been neutral during the war. Further, the President’s plan for aid paid no attention to Communism outside Europe. Even though, the bill passed on May 15, 1947. Truman added while signing the legislation into law:

“We are guardians of a great faith We believe that freedom offers the best chance

of peace and prosperity for all, and our desire for peace cannot be separated

from our belief in liberty. We hope that in years ahead more and more nations

will come to know the advantages of freedom and liberty. It is to this end that we

have enacted the law I have now signed.”

It was brought to Truman’s attention that Europe was by no means content in their economic recovery. Britain was near bankruptcy, Italy, France, and Germany were plagued by a terrible by a terrible. More aid was needed to keep their democratic governments afloat.

Therefore, as a result of the Truman Doctrine was the Marshall Plan. This came about when Truman appointed General Marshall as Secretary of State. In this position, he saw “Europe’s economic plight.” Marshall proposed a plan that would offer aid to all nations “West of the Urals.” (Truman, 355) This included the U.S.S.R. and her Eastern European neighbor nations. But they refused the aid. By March 1948, Congress had appropriated the first installment. Truman signed it into law on April 3, 1948. By it completion in 1952 it would provide more than $13 billion in aid to war-ravaged Europe.

This was a huge change in U.S. Foreign policy. We had gone from isolationists to internationalists. This Doctrine is indirect contrast to the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine served as the U.S. Foreign policy for over 150 years. It essentially stated that the U.S. would not intervene in the World’s affairs as long as no one interfered with hers. With the Truman Doctrine, we completely reversed that role that had been briefly breached during the World Wars. Our new policy was one of Containment: To contain the spread of Communism to the states in which it presently inhabits.

Our relationship with the U.S.S.R. after Truman’s declaration was in continuing deterioration. A major threat to our relationship was the Berlin Blockade of 1948. On June 24, 1948, the Soviets enacted a total blockade on Berlin. The U.S. response was to airlift supplies into West Berlin. By its end 277,804 sorties delivered 2,325,809 tons of goods to Berlin – more than a ton a piece to every Berliner.

On June 24, 1950 Truman was told that North Korea had invaded South Korea, or, in other words, Communism was spreading! The UN Security Council took a unanimous vote to declare war on North Korea. Truman quickly sent 10,000 troops from Japan to combine with the South Korean Army. Even together, they were hardly a match for the 90,000 strong North Koreans. General MacArthur was put in charge and surrendered a lot of space in order to buy time for reinforcements. Back in the U.S. the citizens were not seeing the value of killing their boys in Korea.

Truman increased military spending to finance the war reinforcements. With newly received reinforcements, MacArthur changed the tune of the war. MacArthur only briefly caused a problem. Later he was fired by Truman on insubordination charges. A cease fire was made in 1953. This reestablished the 38th parallel. During this war, the U.S. lost about 60,000 troops. What results did we get? No border changes, a small containment of Communism that probably would not have made much difference to the U.S. anyway. Only the death of Americans was gained.

The next result of the Truman Doctrine was the Vietnam War. This was another Anti-Communist containment war. Ho Chi Minh had invaded South Vietnam. It began with the Gulf of Tonkin incident where Vietnamese Torpedo boats attacked U.S. destroyers. From there, more and more troops were poured into Vietnam. U.S. began bombing raids in 1965. By the end of` that year more than 200,000 troops were in Vietnam. In 1968, 525,000 troops were there. Several peace treaties were given by the U.S. but were refused by the Vietnamese. The Tet offensive renewed a slowing war effort and eventually led to the end of an all-out U.S. involvement in 1973. At the end of our withdrawal nearly 60,000 troops were killed and this time we had not even saved the country we were defending. The veterans received nearly no welcome because the public was not interested in fighting a war too far away to matter.

One great event that has cause the U.S. to increase world aid and involvement was the collapse of the Soviet Union. We were then no longer fighting to contain Communism, but instead to maintain Democracy everywhere.

The Truman Doctrine has impacted everyone in the U.S. and nearly every country in the world since 1947. Some critics rebuke the Doctrine: “Critics blamed involvement in Korea and Vietnam on the Truman Doctrine. Without the Doctrine? the U.S. might have minded its own business.” (McCullough, 571) While other critics argue: “Truman was trying to restore the European Balance of Power and had neither the intention nor the capability of policing the world.” (McCullough, 571) He may have not had that intention, but that is exactly what happened because of the Doctrine. The Doctrine ensures that even without a valid threat to U.S. security we must waste American lives to “protect the free peoples of the World.” (McCullough, 571) Would the world have been a worse place if we had not of gone to war in Korea and Vietnam?? Would the U.S.S.R. have fallen due to its own economic troubles and only short-lived control over its huge population?? These questions can be pondered but never answered. Though one thing is certain, people should not die for a nonexistent cause.

Ferrel, Robert. Harry S. Truman, A Life. London: University of Missouri Press, 1994.

pp. 246-268, 353-357

McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. pp. 550-575

Truman, Margaret. Harry S. Truman. New York: William Morrow and Co.,Inc, 1973

pp. 344-372

“The Truman Doctrine.” Grolier Ecyclopedia. 1993 ed.

Vietnam War.” Microsoft Encarta 1994 ed.

Draper, Theodore. “American Hubris: From Truman to the Persian Gulf.” New York

Review of Books, 16, Jul. 1987, pp. 40-48.

“Truman Doctrine Speech.” Gopher://

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