JO – Truman Doctrine and Greece

Following the second World War, there were tensions within the ‘Grand Alliance’ in which contributed to the formation of the Cold War. At Yalta and Potsdam it was agreed that Stalin would not interfere with the British sphere of influence by getting involved in the Greek civil war, if the Britain promised to not get involved with Poland. The war commenced  between the monarchists and the Communist rebels. The British were supportive of the monarchists and helped support the return of the monarch via weaponry, troops and other supplies. However, the British economy was still devastated by World War II as they were in a £3000 million debt. As a result the British Army were incapable of remaining in Greece due to the strain on their resources and the current state of their economy.

On March 5th, 1946, Ex-prime minister Winston Churchill released the ‘Iron Curtain’ speech at an Fulton, Missouri. During this speech he made it clear that an invisible iron curtain was separating Europe and dividing Eastern and Western Europe. Churchill made it clear within his speech that the Soviet Union’s desire to expand throughout Europe was the cause of this Iron curtain. Churchill didn’t inform Prime Minister Atlee that he was a special guest speaker but, Atlee didn’t disagree with anything mentioned and later thanked him. President Harry Truman was in attendance and also approved of Churchill’s speech, emphasising the friendship and alliance between the United States and Britain.

Britain decided to call on help from its ally, America, as a way of maintaining the royalists power in Greece. President Harry Truman decided to release the Truman doctrine in 1947 in which made it clear that the USA’s foreign policy had changed from isolationism.  “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” – President Truman, March 1947. This made it evident that the USA was willing to defend Europe against outside pressures, and get tough with oppressing states, meaning the Soviet Union.

The Truman Doctrine went hand in hand with the policy of containment; containment was the idea of limiting Soviet influence in Europe and the Soviet Unions span of control. General Marshall then released the Marshall plan which would give $13 Billion to the countries of Europe, vulnerable from the second world war ($17 Billion was initially requested, however congress denied this). This was issued on April 3rd, 1948 and was known as the Economic Recovery Act. A total of sixteen countries signed the Marshall plan document in Paris in 1947. Furthermore, The USA offered support to some of the Soviet Unions satellite states, however Stalin prevents all Eastern European countries from accepting Marshall aid. Czechoslovakia at this point was the only Eastern European country which wasn’t under the control of the Soviet Union. Leader Jan Masaryk agreed to take Marshall aid and this lead to a Coup d’état in Czechoslovakia. At 6.30 on the morning of March 10th, 1948, the body of foreign minister Jan Masaryk was found lying in the cobbled courtyard below the window of his official flat in the palace and it was said he committed suicide.

Moreover, the Marshall Plan was seen by the Soviet Union as ‘Dollar imperialism’ meaning that the USA was attempting to expand their influence through buying countries. In theory this was probably the case; the USA feared the spread of communism and would do anything possible to prevent it, even if it meant using money to gain support. Promptly after the release of the Marshall plan Stalin made it clear that no satellite states were able to accept aid from the USA. Satellite states were those under soviet control or government and these included: Bulgaria, Albania, Poland and practically the entire of Eastern Europe.

The Communist party took control following the death of Metaxas in 1941 and they set up the National Liberation Front in Greece. Churchill had previously agreed to allow Stalin to have power in Romania and Poland, if Churchill was granted power in Greece. The Communist rebels received aid from the Tito, the leader of Yugoslavia, when fighting against the Royalists and the British Army. In March,1946, democratic elections were held in Greece, however, they were highly corrupt and resulted in the national Republican Greek League winning. The result lead to the Communists forming the Democratic Army of Greece (DA), declaring they were fighting to restore Greece to a democracy.  The Democratic Army of Greece used guerrilla tactics during the war whereas, the nationalists received weapons from the USA and UK. By 1949, the royalists had defeated the communist rebels; during the course of the war, more than 80,000 people were killed while another 700,000 were left homeless. The civil war left Greece in shambles.

Overall, the situation in Greece only added to the tensions and the breakdown of the Grand alliance and depicted how tensions formed in the grand alliance from an early stage. This overall, would have contributed to the creation of the Cold War and the conflict between the USA and USSR to continue for years to come.

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