Truman Doctrine and US Middle East Policy


In the years after the Second World War, the world turned its focus from the contest between democracy and totalitarianism to emerging threats, such as the global balance of power (Hunter 1). The escalating war in most parts of the world provoked the vast continental Europe to endow their colonial holdings with independence. In addition, the succeeding up-thrust of the newly independent and susceptible nations greatly worried the United States, especially with regard to its positioning in world politics. In the culminating sequence of events, Hunter (1) observes that the United States sought to ascertain that the enormous human and massive monetary sacrifices it offered in conquering the Second World War were not in vain, and that the newly established nations would become its allies and further reinforce its eminence as the world power.

The power vacuum in the years following the postwar history greatly troubled the United States, especially in the oil opulent and war ravaged Middle East. Much of the Middle East hinterland was a deep preoccupation, and this was mainly because it was deprived of the natural shield to communist thinking like democratic structures and modern social systems. In totality, the civic authority was largely presumed in the west as either weak or lacking in form, another factor that worried America. Several nations in the Middle East were deeply engrossed in the traditional systems of the Arab world. However, the conquest of the nationalistic movements as well as the promise of strength and unity of Pan Arabism under the stewardship of Egyptian despot Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser moved several Middle East nations.

The Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957 is actually an extension of the Truman Doctrine, which essentially increased the United States commitment and containment to the Middle East. Observers note that this was a move to contain Colonel Nasser’s nationalistic vendetta, and further check on the proliferation of communism, which at the time was America’s great headache (Hunter 1).

The Marshall Plan

After its debut and consequent triumph in the Second World War, America rose to establish itself as the world main player in global politics (Beschloss 194). The Marshall Plan, according to McGlinchey (par. 1), enabled the United States to shape its policies in dealing with the warring European nations through massive economic stimulus and postwar reconstruction extended to their former colonies. The United States used its fiscal might in aid of the nations that were considered as vulnerable allies making it the de facto guardian of the democratic nations across the world.

As things turned out, this policy eventually became the foundation stone of the Truman Doctrine, which volunteered massive economic support and military instruction in Turkey and Greece. In the continental Asia, the USSR established a robust Communist state in North Korea while North Iran was under effective control by Soviet troops. Communist revolutionaries tried, however, unsuccessfully to take control of Malaya, though; they succeeded in subduing Chinese mainland. Manchuria, probably the most highly industrialized part of China at the time was subdued and its weaponry seized for use by Soviet forces (McGlinchey par. 5).

President Truman S. Speech to the Congress

Essentially, Truman Doctrine emanated from a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress presided upon by President Henry S. Truman on March 12, 1974 (Merrill 27). Factors that provoked the speech were the declaration by the British foreign policy’s commitment never to offer economic and military aid to the Greek authorities in any domestic war with the Greek Communist Party that threatened to destabilize the government.

In this historic speech, President Truman urged both the House of Representatives and the Congress to assist the government of Greek against the aggressive Communist party that was backed by the Soviet Union. Apart from the Greek concern, he asked the Congress offer support to the government of Turkey arguing that both the states had previously been under the protection of the British. In presenting his case to the Congress, President Truman observed that the United States was greatly disturbed by the progressive expansion of Soviet autocracy into free, independent countries arguing that American national security was no longer dependent on the physical security of the United States territory alone (Hunter 3).

Foundations of the Truman Doctrine

The foundations of the Truman Doctrine according to McGlinchey (par. 2), were premised on the justification by Kennan’s theory, which opined that Communism thrived on sheer determination to destabilize the world economy. This theory further held that the lifeline of Communism was its spread to nations stricken by poverty and strife, a most dubious equation that could only be solved by America’s fiscal power and material support as well as surveillance and advisory. In time, the United States foreign policy was quickly changing to conform to Kennan’s recommendations. Following these developments, America soon became accustomed to employing an offensive approach to immobilize the proliferation of undesirable regimes in many parts of the world (Beschloss 195).

The Centrality of Human Freedoms to the Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine promulgated a noble policy that meant to support free people who were subdued by armed dynasties or external aggression. According to Hunter (4), President Henry S. Truman in endorsing this doctrine declared that human beings are social entities who must be allowed to explore the full meaning of their own destinies in the ways they deem fit; he even observed that America will always come in where their help is welcome.

President Truman however, observed that the aid America was volunteering would be in handy, yet in the form of fiscal aid given that economic strength and organized political structures were the foundations of stability, which essentially was after all what the newly independent nations needed (Hunter 4). In guaranteeing these services to the needy nations, the United States proclaimed its centrality in world politics, helping weaker nations to keep hope alive while at the same time ensuring that the American interests are protected.

The Truman Doctrine sought to fast track the integrity of essentiality to the protection of order in the vast Middle East, while emphasizing that the greatness of the idea of self-determination and insisting that the freedom of humanity must not be impeded by coercion. The action of the United States in Turkey and Greece was therefore, inferred as a robust venture in human freedom and world tranquility. American exportation of the Truman Doctrine was essentially to set the tone for the United States capitalistic allies to champion similar policies the world over (Merrill 5).

Ideological Blocs

Pursuant to the Truman Doctrine, President Henry Truman demonstrated a bipolar society where nations had to choose between two differing legacies with one side fronted by America’s democratic capitalism while the other socialist communism pegged on the USSR mandate. Proponents of the Truman Doctrine depicted capitalism as a choice enriched with liberty and as a course supported by majority (Merrill 28).

In an attempt to discredit communism, Truman think tank criticized socialism as a way of life characterized by oppression and induced ruler by the oligarchy who rule without the popular mandate of the people. As McGlinchey (par 3) notes, the Truman Doctrine sought to lay bare, the shenanigans of communistic vendetta as one deprived of ideology for the common person, and one whose ideology is to suppress the masses. According to policy documenters of Truman Doctrine, communism was a farce thrust upon the masses and lacking in its capacity to solve the many problems of the masses (Hunter 1).

In a scathing attack to communism, President Henry Truman said that communism was neither desired nor popular with the masses alleging that the majority of the people in communist nations were subdued by the regimes and citizens in these states were victims of circumstances. The expositions of the ideological options to Turkey and Greece was hence forth applied to several parts of the world as the Cold War gripped elbowing the two warring ideological blocks to a tango. With the seeming determination by the USSR to stifle capitalism, proponents of the Truman Doctrine stated that America would settle on a serious course of action to defend the world from degenerating into collapse fronted by the USSR’s communistic thinking (Spalding 64).

Emergence of the Third Force

Through the vigor and campaign fronted under the Truman Doctrine, the United States was successful in deterring socialism from finding its roots into countries like Turkey and Greece, though America had to contend with the duty to defend its democratic whims in other parts of the world. Fascism and military dictatorship threatened to collapse the institutions of most nations, and America struggled to endear itself with world leaders to deny Moscow foreign appeal.

The ambitions of America were however, complicated by the emergence of the Third Force – a bloc of unaligned nations fronted by nationalistic leaders like Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia and Nehru of India. According to Hunter (4), the foundation of the third force informed by the feeling that the newly established states were wary of aligning themselves with their previous colonizers and sought to harness national pride in the concept of serving their people. In addition, the Third Force pursued a strategy of positive realignment, a policy that allowed much of the developing world to reap heavily from their relationship with either of the two blocs. The Third Force preached non-alignment policy and this cause a lot of anxiety on both the ideological blocs of as Cold War loomed large (Spalding 68). Consequently, each ideological block positioned itself for allegiance of the non-aligned since in the ideological war, numbers were great.


Essentially the strength of the Truman Doctrine was its choice to use foreign policy in protecting its allies while safeguarding the United States’ national interests. From the forgoing analysis, it could be deduced that the Truman Doctrine established America’s deep commitment to the affairs of the Middle East and effectively enforced America’s mandate in spreading what the American society presumed to be the most enabling form of self-governance– capitalism. The many successes of the Truman Doctrine, consequently, inspired successive administrations in America to develop a rich commitment of economic empowerment while at the same time intended to reach out to allies for the sake of world peace and global development.

Works Cited

Beschloss, Michael. Our documents: 100 milestone documents from the national archives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.

Hunter, Brooke. American commitment to Middle Eastern stability and containment. N.p. 2009. Web.

McGlinchey, Stephen. The Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, and the division of Europe. N.p. 2009. Web.

Merrill, Dennis. “The Truman Doctrine: Containing Communism and Modernity.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 36.1 (2006): 27-37. Print.

Spalding, Edwards. The first cold warrior: Harry Truman, containment, and the remaking of liberal internationalism. New York: The University Press of Kentucky, 2006. Print.

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