In 1941, Britain was in a dilemma. The EAM, bolstered by their military wing known as the ELAS, was the largest resistance group and so would be the most effective for defeating Axis powers. However it was likely they would demand a communist government once Greek independence was achieved, detrimental to Britain’s long-term goal for a pro-British sentiment in Greece. As a resort, Britain established itself as a supporter of King George II and his government-in-exile; despite being favourable to British interests, the Greek King had tenuous influence within Greece and the concern of a Communist takeover persisted. Being far smaller than their Communist opposition and lead by a gambling womaniser, Britain’s support of the pro-British EDES resistance group was not ideal but necessary.
Contrary to what Guerrillas of the ELAS may have expected, Stalin raised no objection to their defeat by the EDES and British troops when fighting broke out in Athens in December 1944. It seems preserving the wartime alliance took precedence over communist seizure of power, as Stalin followed the 1944 Percentages Agreement: Romania would be an area of 90% Soviet influence and equally, Britain would have supreme influence over Greece. The USSR could not intervene with any of Britain’s military action on the Greek Communists and subsequently, nationalist triumph spread throughout Greece as the communist group greatly decreased.
The elections of 1946 were carefully manipulated to favour the EDES and sparked outrage in the Communists who came to form the DA (the Democratic Army of Greece). A full-scale Guerrilla war was unleashed against right-wing bands and their leader, Markos Vafiadis, was given aid from Yugoslavia and Albania – they established territories in the mountains of Northern Greece executing those “monarchofascist traitors”. Western powers were convinced that Stalin was assisting these Greek Communist partisans despite the evidence that suggested he had upheld the Agreement. Historian Daniel Yergin suggests that “American leaders saw a Russian mastermind at work in every local crisis”.
The situation for Britain was dire: not only had their finances been completely drained by the Greek Civil war but they had a loosening grip in the Middle East and British industry was at a standstill due to a crippling winter. With Britain’s troops on the brink of abandoning Greece, the US President was forced to issue the Truman Doctrine to defend Greece against ‘totalitarianism’ – no one was in doubt that this meant firm action was to be taken against Communism. In 1947, the “policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” superseded their policy of isolation. Truman was convinced that a Communist victory in Greece would provoke a Domino effect that would tarnish the political stability of Turkey and the middle East and thus undermine “the foundations of international peace and … security of the United States.” Henceforth, the US would send aid and military to any communist forces who were working to overthrow a democratically elected government.
George Kennan, charge d’affaires in Moscow, had sent a 5540-word cable to Washington known as the ‘Long Telegram’ that identified the USSR as an expansionist, hostile power; following the Truman Doctrine, it’s open-ended commitment to any nation approach was criticised by Kennan – he claimed that in his telegram he had aimed to promote help for the poverty-stricken states of Europe, not incite direct military invasion. However, the ‘brisk and businesslike’ approach from the new secretary of state, George Marshall, proved to be more in keeping with Kennan’s visions as he announced The European Recovery Programme in June 1947. WHY DID HE DECIDE TO DO THIS (TRAVELLING AROUND EUROPE)
Despair had led to extremisim for the people of Germany, opening the door for the rise of the Nazis. This is the premises upon which the Marshall Plan was based on to avoid: if the US wished for Europeans to not vote for communism, economic assistance was needed to crush poverty and famine. This, he perceived, would reverse the trend for extremism. Marshall’s economic aid was viewed by Molotov merely as dollar imperialism that selfishly sought to strengthen the USA’s personal economic interest. He called it a “vicious American scheme for using dollars to buy its way” and made it imminently clear that the soviet union would not support it: I would suggest that “Marshall Aid” was not “the most unselfish act in history”, as suggested by Churchill, but rather a convenient scheme with a humanitarian image that masked the USA’s underlying desire to exploit and gain control in Europe.
The wolf-head-doodling leader Stalin became increasingly anxious about the Marshall plan: the economic revival of Europe and potential expansion of US power across Europe signified to him that “a capitalist coalition…would be ready for war in five to six years” . Thus, it was necessary for him to Fortress Russia. With the creation of Cominform in 1947, he tightened his hold over Eastern Europe and through the brutal enforced Soviet control, he oversaw that none of the Soviet Satellites would participate in the Marshall plan.
Regardless, the US issued its funds to other European nations and used the Soviet’s refusal of the Marshall plan to suggest that they had the intent to isolate Eastern Europe from the West, allowing their communist to doctrine to manifest in those regions. On the contrary, the USSR recognised it as a refusal to be compounded by the “economic imperialism” of America.