The Truman Doctrine

Speaker: Harry Truman
Delivered On: 3/12/1947
Subject: Truman Doctrine, Communism, containment.

Audio/Video Available:

Description: The Truman Doctrine was America’s foreign policy in 1947, and was the beginning of the practice of containment, as communism was proposing a serious threat to the rest of the world. The policy provided aid to Turkey and Greece, two countries that were, at the time, in the greatest of threats. The Truman Doctrine was yet another step in moving towards the Cold War. Truman proposed the aid during the Greek Civil War. Even though Greece and Turkey had been enemies, Truman ascertained that it was important for the US to help both equally, even though the greater threat lied with Greece. He proposed taking over Britain’s position in aiding these countries, as Britain no longer had the means. Truman believed it “...must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation...” Here, you can listen to Truman detailing his doctrine and describing America’s responsibility.

Since the close of hostilities, the Soviet Union and its agents have destroyed the independence and democratic character of a whole series of nations in eastern and central Europe. It is this ruthless course of action and the clear design to extend it to the remaining free nations of the earth that have brought about the critical situation in Europe today.

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedom. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world, and we shall surely endanger the welfare of this nation.

The very existence of the great state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men led by communists. The British government, which has been helping Greece can give no further financial or economic aid after March 31st. We are the only country able to provide that help.

We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them, totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed upon free peoples by direct or indirect aggression undermine the foundations of international peace, and hence the security of the United States.

Greece must have assistance if it is to become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy. I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400 million for the period ending June 30th, 1948.

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