The Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was a policy announced by US President Harry Truman in 1947. It was a simple warning to the USSR: the US would intervene to support any nation threatened of a takeover by an armed minority.

To evaluate the Truman Doctrine, one has to consider the background of events in Europe at the end of World War II and the immediate aftermath.

During the war conferences, Stalin agreed to allow free elections in the east European countries that had been liberated by the Soviet Army. To the Allied leaders, this meant western-style elections. Stalin, however, wanted to put what Churchill called an “Iron Curtain” around the USSR—each eastern European country close to the Soviet border had to have a loyal communist government in power. Therefore, elections were never going to be fair. Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania all ended up with communist governments whose leaders governed according to Moscow’s wishes.

In 1946 communists in Greece attempted a takeover. They were in the minority in the country, but they received moral support from the USSR and supplies from communist Yugoslavia.

Truman wanted to support the Greek government during this Greek Civil War. Greece was in a sensitive location militarily, because the USSR wanted an ally physically on the Mediterranean Sea, in order to build a naval base in a Soviet-friendly state.

So the Truman Doctrine also had a strategic side to it.

Truman stated that it would be “the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

Congress agreed to send $400 million in military and economic aid to support the Greek government. They believed that if Greece fell to the communists, Turkey would be next, and then the Soviet Union would look towards the oil fields of the Middle East.

The Truman Doctrine set the tone for US foreign policy throughout the post-war world. Greece and Turkey even became members of NATO.

Source: The Truman Doctrine
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