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Harry S.
Truman, 33rd President of the United States
The Truman Doctrine is a set of principles of U.S.marker foreign policy created on March 12, 1947 by President Harry S Truman. In his speech to Congress, Truman declared that the United Statesmarker, as "leader of the free world", must support democracy worldwide and fight against communism. The approach was conceived with the help of George Marshall and Dean Acheson, two influential associates.

The Truman Doctrine represented the harsh aspect of containment policy, and the Marshall Plan was the soft side. The declaration of the Truman Doctrine served to inhibit the formation of coalition governments that included communist elements.


In 1946, George F. Kennan was serving as deputy head of the U.S. mission in Moscowmarker. At the end of that term, Kennan sent a 5,450-word telegram (the "Long Telegram") from Moscow to Secretary of State James Byrnes outlining a new strategy on how to handle diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

This dispatch came to the attention of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, a leading advocate for a hard-line approach to relations with the Soviets.

In February 1947, President Truman appeared before Congress and used Kennan's warnings in the "Long Telegram" as the basis of for what became known as the Truman Doctrine.

Based on the Long Telegram, Kennan published an article in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs under the pseudonym "X," entitled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," . The publication triggered an intense debate. Walter Lippmann, a leading U.S. journalist and commentator on international affairs, who favored proposals of disengagement in Germanymarker, strongly criticized the "X" article.

President Truman, who was supported by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg and the Republican-controlled Congress, promulgated this doctrine after "Prime Minister Tsaldaris of Greece visited Washington in December 1946 to plead for additional American assistance." Aid was agreed by the United States government to be given to both Greece and Turkey. It was an early response to a perceived political involvement by the Soviet Unionmarker in Europe and Asia, as suggested by the Communist movements in Turkey and Greece.

The United States gave aid to Greece and Turkey for both political and military reasons; this came shortly after Great Britainmarker ceased its economic aid to both countries in 1947. The situation was perceived as very important for American balance of power politics in the context of the cold war: "If Greece was lost, Turkey would become an untenable outpost in a sea of communism. Similarly, if Turkey yielded to Soviet demands, the position of Greece would be extremely endangered." It was a regional domino effect threat that guided the United States' decision. The United States was cautious of a third World War at this time, and needed military advantages over the Soviet Union if they were to win. Greece and Turkey turned out to be very important: "the failure of the West to prevent a communist takeover in Greece would not only put the Russians on a particularly dangerous flank for the Turks, but strengthen the Soviet Union's ability to cut off allied supplies and assistance in the event of war."

The Truman Doctrine was the first in a series of containment moves by the United States, followed by economic restoration of Western Europe through the Marshall Plan and military containment by the creation of NATOmarker in 1949. In Truman's words, it became "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Using a framing rhetoric that continues to have resonance today, Truman reasoned that because these "totalitarian regimes" coerced "free peoples," they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States.

President Truman made the proclamation in an address to the U.S. Congress on February 27, 1947, amid the crisis of the Greek Civil War (1946–1949). Truman insisted that if Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid that they needed, they would inevitably fall to Communism with consequences throughout the region.

In 1950, Truman signed the top-secret policy plan NSC-68, which shifted foreign policy from passive to active containment. The document differed from Kennan's original notion of containment outlined in the "X" article, containing much harsher anti-Communist rhetoric. NSC-68 explicitly stated that the Communists planned for world domination.


The act, which Truman signed into law on May 22, 1947, granted Greece $300 million in military and economic aid. In the second stage of the civil war in December 1944 (The Dekimvriana), the British helped prevent the seizure of Athensmarker by the leftist National Liberation Front (EAM), controlled effectively by the Communists. In the third phase (1946–1949), guerrilla forces controlled by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) fought against the internationally recognized Greek government which was formed after 1946 elections boycotted by the KKE. Increased American aid helped defeat the KKE, after interim defeats for government forces from 1946 to 1948. British support was affected by the British economic crisis. In 1967 a Greek military junta overthrew the centre right government of Panagiotis Kanellopoulos and seized power. The military junta of Greece, though criticized worldwide for its human rights record, was supported by the American government during its seven year rule. This caused anti-American sentiment in Greece. Some forty years after the harsh oppressions under military rule, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued an apology, largely unreported by the Western media, for the United States' past support of the totalitarian government.


At the conclusion of World War II, Stalin demanded partial control of the Dardanellesmarker, a strategic passage between the Black Seamarker and the Mediterraneanmarker. Since British assistance to Turkey had ended in 1947, the U.S. dispatched military aid to ensure that Turkey would retain chief control of the passage. The aircraft carrier Franklin D Roosevelt was sent to join the Missouri, accompanied by $100 million in economic and military aid to the nation.

The postwar period from 1946 started with a "multi-party period" and a Democratic Party government of Adnan Menderes, but in 1960 there was a military coup d'état led by General Cemal Gürsel, followed by the execution of Menderes. In 1971 there was another coup against the rightist government of Süleyman Demirel and the Justice Party, and another coup in 1980.


  • Frazier, Robert. "Acheson and the Formulation of the Truman Doctrine" Journal of Modern Greek Studies 1999 17(2): 229–251.
  • Gaddis, John Lewis. "Reconsiderations: Was the Truman Doctrine a Real Turning Point?" Foreign Affairs 1974 52(2): 386–402.
  • Ivie, Robert L. "Fire, Flood, and Red Fever: Motivating Metaphors of Global Emergency in the Truman Doctrine Speech." Presidential Studies Quarterly 1999 29(3): 570–591.
  • Jeffrey, Judith S. Ambiguous Commitments and Uncertain Policies: The Truman Doctrine in Greece, 1947-1952 Lexington, 2000. 257 pp.
  • Jones, Howard. "A New Kind of War": America's Global Strategy and the Truman Doctrine in Greece Oxford U. Press, 1989. 327 pp
  • Leffler, Melvyn P. "Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Cold War: the United States, Turkey, and NATO, 1945–1952" Journal of American History 1985 71(4): 807–825.
  • McGhee, George. The U.S.-Turkish-NATO Middle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and Turkey's NATO Entry Contained the Soviets in the Middle East. St. Martin's, 1990. 224 pp.
  • Merrill, Dennis. "The Truman Doctrine: Containing Communism and Modernity" Presidential Studies Quarterly 2006 36(1): 27–37.
  • Offner, Arnold A. "'Another Such Victory': President Truman, American Foreign Policy, and the Cold War." Diplomatic History 1999 23(2): 127–155.
  • Spalding, Elizabeth Edwards. The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, And the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism (2006)

See also

External links


  1. Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana. The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). New York: Longman, 2007 p. 825
  2. Nash, Gary B., Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana. The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2007.
  3. The Poly-Papadopoulos Time Magazine archives Quote: "Many democratic-minded Greeks resent the open U.S. support of the Papadopoulos dictatorship. Last month Washington gave further evidence of its acceptance of his regime by negotiating for home-port rights in the bays near Athens for the Mediterranean-based Sixth Fleet. In addition, the Nixon Administration is trying to persuade Congress to up military aid to Greece from about $90 million to $118 million." Monday, 03 April, 1972 Retrieved 6 July 2008
  4. "Clinton lamenta el apoyo de EU a Junta Griega," La Opinión de Los Angeles, 21 November 1999, page A1.
  5. Clinton concedes regret for U.S. support of Greek junta Topeka Capital-Journal, The, November 21, 1999 by TERENCE HUNT AP Retrieved 18 August 2008
  6. Nash, Gary B., Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana. The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). New York: Longman, 2007 p.825.
  7. Schwedler, Jillian and Deborah J Garner. Understanding the Contemporary Middle East (3rd Edition). Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2008. p. 69.
  8. American vision. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2003.

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