The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy

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The Truman Doctrine was founded by President Harry Truman on 12th March of -the year 1947 (Merrill, 2006). Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States of America. In his speech on that day, he came up with the International Relations policy, named the Truman Doctrine; which stated that under his leadership, the United States would offer military, political, as well as, economic assistance to Turkey and Greece which were under threat from internal and external forces that were keen to have them fall under the Soviet Communist Sphere (Merrill, 2006). Prior to the adoption of the doctrine, the United States had been a country that practiced the détente policy. Truman’s predecessor was a proponent of the détente policy in which the US did not get involved in armed conflicts that did not affect its peace or stability. The Truman doctrine was a shift from that as it was a foreign policy geared towards the containment of the expansion of the influence of the Soviet Union (McGhee, 1990).

Truman’s reoriented foreign policy came about in his speech to the joint session of the US Congress on 12th March 1947 (McGhee, 1990). It was caused by the then announcement by the Government of Great Britain that as of the 31st of March 1947, the economic and military aid it that it had been providing to the Greek Government in the war against communism would end. The Greek Communist Party had initiated a civil war against the British backed government following the end of the Second World War (McGhee, 1990). In his speech, Truman sought for the approval of the US Congress to provide support to the Greek Government, as well as, Turkey, in their fight against Communists. Turkey had also been receiving aid from Great Britain. The US saw communism as secular and millennial religious group which informed the Soviet government’s world views, as well as actions, and therefore, was a threat to American liberty, security, and peace in the world following the end of the Second World War (Harbutt, 2002).

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The US rejected all forms of moral equivalence of the then democratic and Communist nations; and made conclusions to curb the influence of the soviets as there was no hope in any change in the soviet leadership in the nearest future (Harbutt, 2002). In early 1947, Great Britain, a socialist but an anti-Communist state, informed the US Government of its empty coffers, and that funding Turkey and the Greek Government would no longer be possible (McGhee, 1990). It then requested, albeit, convincingly, for the US Government to take over that responsibility. Acheson, aware of the problems that Communism would have on those countries, and the rest of Europe and Asia if the Soviet Union had triumphed in the wars, did his best to share his fears with Truman, who acted quickly to involve the Congress (McGhee, 1990). The Soviet Government had been working with the Yugoslav and Bulgarian authorities to provide support to the communist extremists in both Greece and Turkey. In the event that Greece fell to Communist powers, Turkey would have followed suit, which would have meant that the eastern Mediterranean block of countries would have been Soviet Territories as well (Edwards, 2006). The Truman Doctrine changed US Foreign Policy on May 22, 1947, when a bill in that regard was signed.

While the Soviet was a threat to the US, Truman went overboard and overstated the threat the soviets had to the US (McGhee, 1990). His sentiments from the speech invoked strong waves of anti-communist ideas and sentiments. The Republican controlled Congress approved the Truman Doctrine and authorized the sending of USD $400 million in cash to the two countries so that they could afford to fight off communist threats (Merrill, 2006). No military support would be sent according to congress. The threat ended and the two countries joined NATO in the year 1952 (Merrill, 2006). This meant that their (Turkey and Greece) protection was guaranteed with NATO Membership. There were other gains secured as a result of the singing into law of the Truman Doctrine; for instance, the peace and stability of Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East was secured during Truman’s tenure in office as President. All “free peoples” who had been in their struggles fighting “totalitarian regimes,” were also protected to curb the spread of soviet influence; termed as authoritarianism (Merrill, 2006). Failure to do so, according to Truman, meant that the foundations of international peace would be undermined; and in effect, the security of the people of the United States and the free world. Therefore, the Truman Doctrine became the US Foreign policy of supporting free peoples who were resisting all forms of subjugation especially from armed groups receiving support from the Soviet Union (Edwards, 2006).

From the moment the Doctrine was put into full force, US security depended upon countering the spread of the Soviet influence into independent nations (Edwards, 2006). The tradition of avoidance of foreign commitments beyond the western countries in peacetime was broken; as the US increased its presence in countries it deemed were useful to its peace and interests (Edwards, 2006). The Truman was also beneficial in that it was able to curb cultural insecurities that would have been caused by Soviet policies into free and independent nations, in a globalized world. American economic power, thus, was mobilized into modernizing and stabilizing countries that were considered unstable; but without military engagement of any form (Harbutt, 2002). This meant that modernization and nation-building activities were brought to the forefront and became important, not only to the American state but also to its allies as well.

  • Edwards, S. E. (2006). The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism. Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky.
  • Harbutt, F. J. (2002). The Cold War era. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • McGhee, G. (1990). The U.S.-Turkish-NATO Middle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and Turkey’s NATO Entry Contained the Soviets in the Middle East. New York.
  • Merrill, D. (2006). The Truman Doctrine: Containing Communism and Modernity. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 27–37.

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