American history is filled with interesting events, which influenced its development or made the government act in a certain way. The Truman Doctrine, for example, was a turning point in American history, which took place in the middle of the previous century. It was a policy implemented by the President Harry Truman in 1947 that showed the Unites States would support economically struggling Turkey and Greece from the crisis. Although at first sight, the Doctrine did not represent any hidden political meanings, it was actually implemented to prevent the struggling countries from becoming communist. One can say that Truman Doctrine became the main anti-communist policy leading to the Cold War and constant competition and pressure between superpowers, since it determined further relations between the US and the Soviet Union.
Although some people nowadays criticize the Truman Doctrine for being the catalyst for confrontation between the USSR and the US, one has to understand that the policy was dictated by the situation, in which the country and the entire world was in. After the end of the WW II, the countries began paying attention to redevelopment, but when it came to giants like the USSR, it also considered spreading its influence on more states in order to control and turn them to communist. Soviets always dreamed of world revolution and communism everywhere, although these dreams were fading out. Nevertheless, after the war, Soviet leaders decided to influence countries nearby by taking them under control and maybe helping financially. Western world, which was democratic, saw these actions done by Soviets. Western leaders feared that the USSR would not stop and would try to capture their countries as well. The United States officials feared that if the Soviet Union became strong enough, it would dictate its will to the whole world. Thus, it was essential to prevent that from happening by stopping Soviet “peaceful” expansion. The countries, which had a hard time recovering after the war and that were close to the USSR, were the main targets. American officials decided to help them first in order for the USSR not to do it. That way, it was possible to help these countries evolve democratically, instead of becoming communist and threatening the rest of the democratic world.
Hence, it was decided to act to prevent Soviets from spreading their influence (Gaddis, 1974). In 1947, Truman spoke about Greek Civil War and the necessity to help the country. The same was applied to Turkey. Certain actions were done because the United States supported both countries financially and helped them deal with the turmoil. Another important act of the Truman Doctrine was the Marshall Plan. It was an economic support to the countries in Europe that were struggling and needed finances to stabilize their economies. There were not only political reasons; thanks to the Marshall Plan, the countries were able to develop their economies without depending on the neighboring giant in the form of the USSR. Thus, thanks to the Marshall Plan, the countries in Europe were protected from communism, and it was impossible for the Soviets to affect them further. That way, America strengthened its positions in Europe, getting democratic allies and stopping the communist influence.
The formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was another event that took place during the Truman Doctrine timeline. It was a way for the Western world to secure itself internationally. NATO was an answer to the Soviet Union, showing it that the democratic countries were united in order to defend their security and safety.
There were also other actions done within the United States. For example, the Truman Doctrine forbid communism in the United States. It shaped the world between two opposite forces, which did not attack for real, but were using a lot of resources to seem threatening enough for the opposite party not to begin another conflict.
The Truman Doctrine had many effects both for the United States and other countries. When it comes to the US, it is important to note that Americans became very suspicious toward communists after that. They also became very suspicious toward Russian immigrants and anybody who could be connected to communism and the Soviet Union. During that time, there was a powerful anti-communism campaign, and people feared of being accused in communism. That situation caused a lot of debates within American society, since many people, especially journalists, found such a policy to be against human rights, as they emphasized on the right to support and believed any doctrine they wanted. Nevertheless, the overall situation with the Truman Doctrine led to anti-Soviet attitudes within the United States because communists were perceived as the main enemies.
The Truman Doctrine also affected the world, leading to its virtual division (Merrill, 2006). There were countries allied with the US, and there were countries influenced by the Soviet Union. The mentioned division led to confrontation, which was called the Cold War. It was a set of actions of the US and the USSR, which were intended to threaten and blacken each other. The Cold War contributed to tension between the two superpowers because each feared that the other one would attack first. Thus, it led both to spend a huge amount of money on defense and military. The Truman Doctrine was the response of threatening signals from the USSR, and it only strengthened the initial conflict between the communist and democratic countries.
The Doctrine had many advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage was obviously the beginning of the Cold War (Harbutt, 2002). Although the Truman Doctrine was a response to Soviet actions, it cemented the conflicting relations between the two superpowers, and determined them for the next fifty years. One can say that because of the Truman Doctrine, it was impossible to ease the tension between the US and the USSR.
Another disadvantage included economic spending, which was a part of the Marshall Plan, as well as a lot of funds spent on defense and military. America began financing its military very intensively, and it required a lot of money. Thus, it led to militarization of the country.
It also arouse the conflicts within the American society between those supporting the Truman Doctrine and those opposing it, and stating that Americans could be communists, since they lived in a free country.
As for the main advantage, it was the fact that the United States protected democracy and supported European states from failing. Thanks to that, it was possible to think about unity between Western countries, which focused on protecting human rights and developing in a democratic way. It prevented the Soviet Union from spreading its influence too. It also strengthened the American belief about supporting “free people” who “resist subjugation” (Beschloss, 2006). It showed that American government would defend the beliefs of American people about democracy, freedom, and human rights.
One can say that the Truman Doctrine was a consequence of its time. It was an inevitable policy, created as a response to threatening signals from the Soviet Union. The Doctrine established a policy, which enabled the US to protect the country, as well as win new allies by supporting European states. The Doctrine was essential for the foreign affairs of that time, which were becoming tenser because of geopolitical appetites of the Soviet leaders. That is why it was important to protect both the country and the world democracy from falling under pressure of communism. The Truman Doctrine could be criticized as a catalyst of the Cold War, but one cannot deny the fact that at that time it was necessary for the United States to defend its interests.