Truman Doctrine Summary Essay Example

The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan

The first step was the of March 1947, which reflected the combativeness of President Harry Truman. Truman wanted to “scare the hell” out of Congress. Arguing that Greece and Turkey could fall victim to subversion without support from friendly nations, Truman asked Congress to authorize $400-million in emergency assistance. To justify this course, he said: “I believe we must assist free peoples to work out their destinies in their own way.” The key to preventing the overthrow of free nations was to attack the conditions of “misery and want” that nurtured totalitarianism.

President Harry S. Truman

Soon this general principle was applied to Western Europe as a whole. In June 1947, Secretary proposed the extension of massive economic assistance to the devastated nations of Europe, saying that the policy of the United States was not directed “against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the existence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

What the Secretary of State left unsaid was that while the U.S. plan would be open to the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe, it emphasized the free market economy as the best path to economic reconstruction—and the best defense against communism in Western Europe. Congress responded to Marshall’s proposal by authorizing the European Recovery Program, better known as the . An investment of about $13 billion in Europe during the next few years resulted in the extraordinarily rapid and durable reconstruction of a democratic Western Europe.

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The Truman Doctrine In order to contain Communism,

President Harry S. Truman issued the Truman Doctrine in

1947, which provided aid to Greece and Turkey. The

United States gave aid to those countries, specifically,

because it felt they were most threatened by Communism

during the time of the Cold War (Ferrell, pg.105).

Communism is an economic system in which a single party

controls the means of production with the aim of

establishing a classless society (Encarta). The period after

World War II, up until the year 1990, when The Cold War

ended, was controlled by two superpowers, the United

States and the Soviet Union. The United States was led by

President Harry S. Truman, who was thrown into the

presidency by the unexpected death of Franklin D.

Roosevelt, and the Soviet Union was led by Joseph Stalin

(McCullough, pg. 371). Each expressed different views on

politics, economics and human rights. A number of events

occurred which led the United States and the Soviet Union

to engage in what is now known as the Cold War. The five

areas of conflict were with Poland, Germany, atomic

secrets, Eastern Europe, and economic rebuilding of

Western Europe. The Cold War was not a war in the

typical sense of the word. There were no shots fired, but

rather it was a war with words. In some ways this could be

considered worse than a real war because that type causes

a lot more fear over what could occur at any moment and

weather the threats were real or not. Those countries that

sided with the United States, which were mostly Western

European nations, were known as the free world. The

Soviet Union, on the other hand, occupied the Eastern

European nations which came to be known as the

Communist Bloc (Barrons). During this time, President

Harry S. Truman wanted to contain Communism before it

spread world-wide. He felt that this was the crucial point

and Truman responded by issuing the Truman Doctrine in

1947. Truman feared that third world countries would

accept Communism. Communism 2 sounded tempting to

these countries because it would equalize everyone and it

may even provide those countries with a stable government

(Ferrell, pg. 105). The main objective of the Truman

Doctrine was to support Turkey and Greece because the

United States government felt they were most threatened

by Communism during the Cold War. The United States

did not want Communism to spread, in fear that it would

form in the United States (Encarta). The United States

wanted to show the Soviet Union that they weren"t the

world power and that the Soviets could not force

Communism on other countries, especially weak, smaller

countries. The Soviet Union thought they were the most

powerful Communist government and that all countries

should be Communist like them. The United States

expressed their views differently and believed that they

could contain Communism (McCullough, pg. 730). The

Soviet Union managed to establish Communist

governments in Romania, Hungary and Poland. The United

States was outraged that Communism kept spreading and

waited patiently for what Truman was going to do about it

(Ferrell, pgs. 105, 106, & 280). Truman had many choices

and alternatives to choose from to deal with this

Communist problem. One was that Truman could have

fought the Soviet Union and weakened them to the point

that they could not be able to impress it upon other

countries. He didn"t do this because World War II had just

ended and not even the Soviets and Americans wanted

World War III to occur. Also, Truman was fearful of losing

popularity because of the Americans anti-war sentiments.

Another choice Truman had was that he could have

dropped an atomic bomb on the Soviet Union. He didn"t

do this because the Soviet Union would have then dropped

a bomb on NATO. An atomic war would start and each

side would forget what was really at stake. Also many

innocent lives would be lost and Trumans goal was to

contain Communism and not to kill people. In addition,

Truman could have just let Communism spread

world-wide. He didn"t do this because the United States

did not want Communism to spread because then the

United 3 States would not have any trading partners. The

United States not only found it impossible to trade with

Communist countries, but also thought that was how to give

in to Communism. Truman could have asked the United

Nations for help. He didn"t do this because the United

Nations was not strong enough to handle Communism.

Truman probably believed that the United States was

stronger than the United Nations and that the United States

could contain Communism on their own. Truman could

have made a compromise with the Soviet Union. Truman

could have told the Soviet Union to stop spreading

Communism and in return the United States would become

their ally and help repay any debt they might have. Truman

didn"t do this because the Soviet Union would not just

back away from Communism that easily. The Soviet Union

would think that the United States is getting desperate and

dot know how to control Communism, which would make

the Soviet Union think they have more power over the

United States. Truman could have made a compromise

with other nations. He could have proposed that whichever

country didn"t take part in Communism or ally itself with

the Soviet Union, would be given aid and become an ally of

the United States. This idea seemed like the best alternative

and Truman took this idea into deep consideration. It

would not only contain Communism, but it would also help

the United States gain trading partners. This plan took

shape in 1947 and was called the Truman Doctrine. The

Truman Doctrine proposed a program of $400 million in

military and economic aid to back anti-Communist forces in

Turkey and Greece (Ferrell, pg. 107). The significance of

the Truman Doctrine is that it gradually contained

Communism around the world and stopped it before it

could spread anymore. The United States feared

Communism and they imprisoned many people who they

thought to be Communist. The Soviet Union realized that

Communism would not spread, so they kept Communism

within their country until 1991 when the Soviet Union

denounced Communism and became Russia. The Truman

Doctrine provided military and economic aid to Turkey and

Greece, so they wouldn"t accept Communism. President

Trumans foreign policy 4 was a success because it worked

to contain Communism by giving United States military and

economic aid to countries who were tempted by

Communism. Critics of Truman claimed that he prompted

anti-Communist hysteria in the United States. Everybody

feared Communism and wanted it to be brought under

United States control. Most historians viewed Trumans

response as an appropriate reaction to Soviet

expansionism. Historians say that Truman had secured

sufficient legislative backing to produce an outstanding

record in foreign affairs (Encarta). Despite what the critics

have said, I agree with the historians that Truman did a

good job as President. We must understand that Franklin

D. Roosevelt died suddenly and Truman was thrown into

the mix of this Cold War. Despite being the Vice President,

Truman did not know what was going on because

Roosevelt never shared information with anyone.

Therefore, Truman had to be a little bit more suspicious of

Stalin and that is why he was so Anti-Communist. So, in a

way, Truman did start the Cold War, but the way he

handled it was superb and smart.  

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