JH – Truman doctrine and Greece

The Truman doctrine  came soon after Winston Churchill’s “Iron curtain speech” which marked the beginning of the cold war. The grand alliance of the big three had finally come to an end after tension had bubbled under the surface throughout the alliance.

The Truman doctrine, sparked in 1947 soon after the British government could no longer sustain its overseas commitments in which one was Greece. They had been greatly affected by the second world war and had to additionally pay £3000 million in reparations, the British had to call upon the US for support. Due to the fear of communism and soviet expansion, the US president issued the Truman doctrine in order to restrict soviet influence in Eastern Europe.

Despite the fact that Stalin had upheld his agreement of keeping out of Greece as it was an area of British influence, the west were convinced that Stalin wanted to continue to expand as the communist governments of Yugoslavia and Albania did send aid. Therefore Truman wanted to ensure that it remained out of Soviet influence. Hence Truman issued a statement declaring “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Essentially, the Truman doctrine was a message to Communist countries that the USA would do everything in their power to try and limit the spread of Communism.

The Marshall plan was issued by the US secretary of state, George Marshall who introduced the plan in the aim of containing the soviet union and maintaining a Capitalist democracy in Europe. The plan concerned the economic situations in countries throughout western Europe, it involved in the US committing large sums of financial assistance to countries who were in need of it. As well as providing humanitarian aid to these countries, there was also another aim which lay beyond this, a much larger objective for the US to intervene in Europe. The American government feared a possible economic recession in the US as a result of the failing European economies, thus this could possibly affect trading through the markets between the countries. However, the Americans may have seen a much larger scale problem that could arise without necessary intervention but this time relating to the political conflict this could cause. Poverty in Eastern Europe would act as the perfect breeding ground for Stalin to manipulate and spread communism throughout Europe.

Despite achieving its aim which was to spark economic recovery back into the countries that needed it, it is important to note that aid only applied to Western Europe hence leaving the East to ruins and vulnerable to Soviet influence. The plan created by Marshall was skillfully and tactically devised as it limited to who the aid was able to be received by, to communist states it was impossible due to the fact that it required countries providing economic records as well as opening up their economy, their was a clear agenda towards communism and Stalin. Typically, the Soviet union viewed the plan as an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of other states as well as a direct threat to communism.

Molotov labelled the plan as “dollar imperialism” suggesting that the US’s interests lay solely on the economic reward that they would gain rather than the humanitarian support which they were portraying which can be seen as true to an extent.

In response, the USSR decided that action needed to be takes and so set up both the cominform and the comecon, both organisations aimed to either assist Soviet expansion or provide economic assistance to the countries of Eastern Europe which had suffered greatly. In essence, these actions set up by the USSR were a direct response to the Marshall plan inciting even more tension between the countries. Consequently, the division of Europe was made even more apparent and entrenched.

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