Greece: By 1946, Greece and Czechoslovakia were the only countries in Eastern Europe that had managed to remain Capitalist. However, despite the Greek royal government – Monarchists – being returned to power with the help of British troops, they were still having to fight a civil war against the Communists. Stalin had kept his agreement by keeping out of the political affairs of Greece and leaving it to be an area of British influence – doing nothing directly as the US and Britain promised to not impede with Poland, but the Communist governments of both Yugoslavia and Albania aided the Communist fighters. To the West this was seen as yet another sign of Soviet expansion meaning firm action was needed but this happened to be something the British troops were struggling to sustain.
The economy of the British government had a detrimental effect as a result of WW2 – they owed £3000 million in debts – which was made worse by the winter of 1946-1947. The British were made to come to terms with the fact of them no longer being able to continue with its overseas commitments. So, in February 1947 they informed the US that they could no longer afford to keep their troops in Greece. The US were now faced with the prospect of their withdrawal possibly leading to a Communist takeover in Greece, this resulted in the development of the Truman Doctrine which was issued by the US President.
The Truman Doctrine: The Truman Doctrine was first announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 12th 1947. It was an American foreign policy that was created to counter Soviet proselytising during the Cold War – a response to the situation in Greece – and was further developed on July 12th 1948. Truman stated that ‘it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures’. Essentially stating that it’s the duty of the US to interfere; he saw this as a way to attempt to tackle Communist forces whenever they attempted to overthrow a democratically elected government. Truman was prepared and ready to provide support for any government, providing it was anti-communist.
US military advisers and aid were sent to the Greek government resulting in the defeat of the Communists. In the eyes of Stalin, this was seen as evidence of US imperialism – economic, military and cultural influence of the US on other countries; expansion into foreign countries.
The Marshall Plan: In the spring of 1947 George Marshall, the US Secretary of State, travelled through Western Europe and was alarmed by the devastation and economic suffering he witnessed. He stated that every country in Europe was so poor that it was in danger of turning Communist – Europe was a ‘breeding ground of hate’; he concluded that economic support and assistance was desperately which had resulted in the devise of the Marshall Plan.
The plan involved committing sums of US financial assistance to Europe as if this had not occurred a number of issues could’ve risen: concerns of economic recession in the US if the European economy was not rebuilt; without financial assistance the US wouldn’t be able to transport any goods to Europe and the US saw poverty as the ideal breeding ground for communism. Conditions were attached when receiving aid – to provide economic records and open up their economy to US Capitalist interests.
The plan had asked for $17 billion from congress which was declined until 31 March 1948 due to the Communist taking over Czechoslovakia in February 1948 (along with the suspicious death of Jan Masaryk who suffered defenestration – thrown from a window, probably by police). However, Congress had given $13 billion instead of $17 billion to fund the Marshall Plan.
The Soviet Union deemed the Marshall plan as an attack on Communism and Molotov saw it as a foreign interference of the US – dollar imperialism. Therefore, those countries under Soviet influence declined Marshall aid and the USSR tightened their grip over Eastern Europe via the formation of Comminform. Which was an organisation that coordinated Communist parties and groups throughout Europe. Comecon was also formed – provided economic assistance to the countries of Eastern Europe. Thus leading to more tension, division and apprehension between the East and West.