Truman’s Doctrine and The Cold War


Strayer University Alexandria Campus

Truman’s Doctrine and The Cold War

After World War II, tensions had started to rise because of the use of the Atom bomb. Russia saw this as a threat to their country and started to develop and build their own. So in a dramatic speech to session of congress President Truman asked for the approval to assist Greece and Turkey to prevent communist domination of the two nations. This address that Truman pleaded to congress later became known as the Truman doctrine and the official start of the cold war.

Greece and Turkey both had been battling communism internally since World War II ended and in February 1947 the British government told the U.S. that it could no longer furnish economic and military support to the two countries. A civil war that was gaining attention by other nations due to their significant and strategic geographic location. Turkey owned a territory called the Dardanelles, which could be beneficial to controlling ships passing between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The USSR wanted communist control over this area to enable its navy to gain easy entrance to the Mediterranean (A&E Television Networks, 2014). The importance of Greece to communism was very similar to its want for the Dardanelles. If Greece became a communist nation, Soviet Russia would have an ally in the Mediterranean where it could build Soviet ships, therefore completely cutting out the need to slip through the Dardanelles, which was heavily monitored by other nations.

On March 12, 1947 President Harry S. Truman assembled a joint session of congress to make his case that the US needed to support Greece and Turkey. It was believed that Communist Russia was backing the Greek Communist Party, making the potential victory of the communist party a larger threat in the eyes of the American president. Though this was not the case, America’s fear was compounded by multiple other occasions where the Soviet Union had tried to force the Turkish government into allowing them to have a base in the Turkish Straits and allow Soviet ships passage rights (History.com, 2014). The fear that if the Greek communist part won and took over Greece, it could negatively affect Turkey’s political standpoint. If both Turkey and Greece were converted, the Mediterranean and the Middle East could become politically unstable and all of this would be a threat to America’s security.

Truman’s address explains that the growth of totalitarian governments could harm international peace and therefore America should support both the Turkish and Greek governments. This speech not only asked for $400 million of support – financial and military – for the two countries, but also ended up changing the U.S. view on foreign policy for the future. Truman essentially stated that the U.S. had a duty to support nations in their battles against outside pressures. Congress said that they agreed to send $400 million in military and financial help to backing the legislature of Greece. There was an imparted view that if Greece tumbled to the communists, Turkey would be next and that the Soviet Union was gradually inching towards the oil fields of the Middle East. Be that as it may, there was no backing to send US military powers into Greece.

The relationship between the US and Turkey before the doctrine was put into place was really non-existent the US and Turkey would trade goods and talk but they really didn’t have any political ties that held them together. It wasn’t until the Truman Doctrine that they built political ties and started building an alliance. This alliance will continue to grow for years to come and the partnership that the US and Turkey will build will save them from becoming a communist nation. The relationship that the US has with Turkey now is pretty good. The US Navy pulls in to Turkey on a regular biases. Turkey also has become a member of NATO and ISAF operations in Afghanistan. Also in 2009 Turkey also built economic relations by the framework for strategic economic and commercial cooperation (FSECC). Then in 2013 the US and Turkey deepened their economic relationship with the free trade negotiations where President Obama and Prime minister Erdogan established a parallel dialogue.

The effects of the Truman Doctrine are widespread and long-lasting. It was this doctrine that put America in the role of global caretaker and terminated American isolationism. The doctrine caused and was expanded upon by the Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program. This was a means of indirectly fighting communism in Western Europe by creating and supporting a free market and economic stability (The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, 2014). What this did was recreate Western Europe into a democratic buffer zone between America and the Soviet Union. Added to this was the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which treated an attack on allies the same as an attack on America. When Turkey and Greece joined NATO, it further isolated communist Russia by threatening their support of communist parties or regimes. The strategic moves that were made by America were eventually considered steps to contain communist Russia creating the policy of Containment.

If it wasn’t for the Truman Doctrine the Turkey and Greece would have been most likely communist nations. Russia was putting a lot of pressure on the two countries because it would have given them a huge strategic advantage to the med and all of Europe. The doctrine gave the two countries the money and military support that they needed to keep Russia’s influence out of the people’s minds and the government. Without the doctrine and the US help Europe would have probably fell to communism.

This idea continues to be relevant today, realizing that threats around the world can indirectly affect America and global politics. When looking at the Truman doctrine you can see that it did have a lot more advantages then disadvantages. Some of the advantages it had was it pushed and helped start groups like NATO and the EU. With the help from the doctrine and these organizations small countries where able to get the help and support that they needed to run themselves and not have to worry about a communist threat. As for the disadvantages the biggest and most well-known one is the Cold War. The Truman doctrine made Russia believe that this doctrine was nothing more than a smoke screen for the US to expand its territory more. That was not the case at all the Truman doctrine is an amazing piece of legislation and will continue to protect the small countries for many more years to come.


A&E Television Networks, (2014). Mar 12, 1947, Truman Doctrine is announced. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/truman-doctrine-is-announcedOffice of the Historian, (2014). The Truman Doctrine, 1947. Retrieved from: http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/truman-doctrineOffice of the Historian, (2014). The Truman Doctrine, 1947. Retrieved from: https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/short-history/trumanTrueman, C., (October 2011). The Truman Doctrine. Retrieved from: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/truman_doctrine.htm.

Clare, J., (2014) The Truman Doctrine. Retrieved from: http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war8_TrumanDoctrine.htm

Sunysuffolk.edu (2014) The Cold War. Retrieved from: http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/coldwar.htmlCountrystudies.us (2014) The United States. Retrieved from: http://countrystudies.us/turkey/90.htm