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The political vision of Truman


Truman doctrine
Truman doctrine

In 1947 the Cold War conflict centered on Greece, where a Communist-led resistance movement, supported by the USSR and Communist Yugoslavia, threatened to overthrow the Greek monarchical government, supported by Britain. When the British declared that they were unable to aid the imperiled Greek monarchists, the United States acted. In March 1947 the president announced the Truman Doctrine: The United States would help stabilize legal foreign governments threatened by revolutionary minorities and outside pressures. Congress appropriated $400 million to support anti-Communist forces in Turkey and Greece. By giving aid, the United States signaled that it would bolster regimes that claimed to face Communist threats. As George Kennan explained in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine in 1947, “containment” meant using “unalterable counterforce at every point” until Soviet power ended or faded. In 1947 the United States further pursued its Cold War goals in Europe, where shaky postwar economies seemed to present opportunities for Communist gains. The American Marshall Plan, an ambitious economic recovery program, sought to restore productivity and prosperity to Europe and thereby prevent Communist inroads.

The plan ultimately pumped more than $13 billion into western European economies, including occupied Germany. Stalin responded to the new U.S. policy in Europe by trying to force Britain, France, and the United States out of Berlin. The city was split between the Western powers and the USSR, although it was deep within the Soviet zone of Germany. The Soviets cut off all access to Berlin from the parts of Germany controlled by the West. Truman, however, aided West Berlin by airlifting supplies to the city from June 1948 to May 1949.

In 1949 the United States joined 11 other nations (Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal) to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact. Members of NATO pledged that an attack on one would be an attack on all.

Stalin responded by uniting the economies of Eastern Europe under the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Then late in 1949, Americans learned that the Soviets had successfully exploded an atomic bomb in August. Finally, in February 1950, Stalin signed an alliance with the People’s Republic of China, a Communist state formed in 1949. The doctrine of “containment” now faced big challenges. To bolster the containment policy, U.S. officials proposed in a secret 1950 document, NSC-68, to strengthen the nation’s alliances, to quadruple defense spending, and to convince Americans to support the Cold War. Truman ordered the Atomic Energy Commission to develop a hydrogen bomb many times more destructive than an atomic bomb. In Europe, the United States supported the independence of West Germany.

Finally, the United States took important steps to contain Communism in Europe and Asia. In Europe, the United States supported the rearmament of West Germany. In Asia in early 1950, the United States offered assistance to France to save Vietnam (still French Indochina) from Communist rule, and signed a peace treaty with Japan to ensure the future of American military bases there. Responding to the threats in Asia, Stalin endorsed a Communist reprisal in Korea, where fighting broke out between Communist and non-Communist forces. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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