The history of the United States has many influential figures who had a significant impact on the country’s development. Harry S. Truman, the American President from 1945 to 1953, came to his post at a difficult time. He is most famous for dropping an atomic bomb on Japan and thus ending World War II. Also, his presidency is known for the policy of assistance in political, military, and economic spheres to nations on their way to democracy. This policy was presented in the Truman Doctrine, announced to Congress in March 1947. This paper analyses the Truman Doctrine and its discussion 25 years after the announcement, which was an important step forward to the development of American diplomacy and the spread of democratic ideas internationally.
The Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was announced in 1947 and designated the beginning of American foreign policy. According to Foner, the first opportunity to apply this policy was the situation in Greece, which needed military and financial support because of the threat from a communist-led rebellion (218). One of the major arguments in the Truman Doctrine is the defense of freedom. It was the first example of American interference in anti-communist regimes (Foner 218). The whole speech is an appeal to the American people. It states that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” (Foner 220).
Truman believed that the United States had to “assist free peoples to work out their destinies in their way” (Foner 220). Truman insisted that every nation has to choose the way and this choice is not always free. Thus, the states which needed support on their way to freedom and democracy could address the United States and receive the necessary assistance. Nevertheless, attitudes to the Truman Doctrine were controversial. Some people considered it to be a turning point in the world’s history while others believed that the United States should not have interfered with the policies of other countries.
The Truman Doctrine as the Turning Point in American History
The Truman Doctrine was a subject for debate for government officials, Congressmen, journalists, and other interested individuals. At present, it is an issue of arguments for historians. Gaddis provides a vision of the Truman Doctrine after 25 years since its announcement (386). The author admits that the President applied “sweeping rhetoric” in his desire to justify the necessity of resisting communism all over the world. Still, there were gaps between rhetoric and reality that were typical of the American foreign policy (Gaddis 386). The Doctrine was heavily criticized, and the argument for the criticism was the lack of possibility for the United States to “defend free peoples everywhere” (Gaddis 390). On the whole, despite the evident impact of the Truman Doctrine on the development of American foreign policy, Gaddis believes that treating it as a turning point in American diplomatic history is exaggerated (402).
Summarizing the Truman Doctrine and its analysis in the article, it should be mentioned that the later contributes to the understanding of the Doctrine’s role in the history of the United States. On the one hand, both articles are similar in stating that the Truman Doctrine was a significant event that stimulated the becoming of American foreign affairs. Nevertheless, the difference is that the secondary source claims that the influence of the Truman Doctrine on the world communism, which became a leading policy in some European states after World War II, was not so meaningful.
Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom. A Documentary History. Vol. 2, 5th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
Gaddis, John Lewis. “Was the Truman Doctrine a Real Turning Point?” Foreign Affairs, vol. 52, no. 2, 1974, pp. 386-402.