The Issue Of Greece
- Greece was located within the Soviet sphere of influence, bordering Albania (a Soviet puppet-state), Bulgaria (another Warsaw-Pact country, and Yugoslavia (a non-Warsaw Pact communist state).
- After the Second World War there was a civil-war between the UK backed Monarchists and the Communists. (The West believed the Soviets to be supporting the Communists, but in fact Stalin had refrained from doing so, and forced the dictator of Yugoslavia Tito to refrain from doing the same.)
- In Feb 1947 the UK admitted to the USA that it could no longer sustain anti-communist actions in Greece, due in part to £3000 million in wartime debt.
- This led to the Truman Doctrine, President Truman announcing that the USA would act to protect and support “free peoples” from “subjugation”. This meant sending arms, money and advisors to states like Greece.
The Truman Doctrine
- A doctrine is a group of ideals and beliefs held to, and the Truman Doctrine was one that effectively stated the USA would act in support of democratic states under threat from authoritarian forces.
- As this US State Department article says, this was a massive departure from previous US policy, which usually revolved around isolationism, and orientated the USA to be more intervening in foreign affairs.
- In a joint session of Congress, Truman requested $400,000,000, as well as civilian and military support be given to the Greek and Turkish governments, in light of what the USA saw as Soviet meddling in Greek and Turkish affairs (for example, the Soviets attempted to force the Turkish to give them passage rights through the Dardanelle Straits, and base rights in Turkey).
- Truman argued it was the duty of the USA to protect “free peoples” and support democracies as he saw authoritarian and totalitarian regimes as undermining “the foundations of international peace”.
- The Marshall Plan was a call by US Secretary of State George Marshall for economic assistance for the war-ravaged European states.
- Marshall initially set out his plan in June 1947, and Congress passed the first wave of funding in 1948. The amount of funding eventually rose to $12 billion.
- Officially and politically, the Plan was enacted to alleviate the sufferings of the European peoples and economies. However, there were less magnanimous reasons. The US realised that it needed the European markets strong in order to export to them, else they’d risk the US economy going into recession again. Furthermore, the USA used Marshall Aid to oppose communism, the Americans seeing poverty as being the breeding ground of communism.
- Officially, all European states could apply for Marshall Plan funds, however, in practice, only western Europe received any, as there were conditions attached to the money, such as opening their economies, which the now communist states of eastern Europe could not do.
- Marshall Aid was condemned by the Soviets as “Dollar Imperialism” (accusing the USA of trying to control Europe through finances.) IN response to Marshall Aid, Stalin created Comecon in 1949, a body created to provide economic assistance to the communist eastern European states.
- This meant that Marshall Aid entrenched the divisions in Europe further, in particular economically.