LB – Truman Doctrine, Greece and Marshall Aid

The Truman Doctrine of march 1947 was a foreign policy adopted by President Harry S. Truman. The policy outlined that the USA would support any democratic nation under threat by an armed minority to protect the rights of the people. As Truman put it:

“I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.

I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.

I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to the economic stability and orderly political processes”

These statements governed US foreign policy, particularly the policy of containment adopted throughout the cold war which resulted in the Marshall plan along with the US intervention in the Greek civil war and a multitude of other conflicts. Going against the isolationist policy of the past and ensuring that the USA had a dominant role in the struggle against the rise of communism around the world. The effects of the Truman doctrine can be seen in regards to the tension between the two super powers that it nurtured. The Truman Doctrine appearing to be a threat from the perspective of the USSR, directly threatening the buffer zone and therefore the security the Soviets wanted to achieve through expansion into Eastern Europe.

Greece was in the British sphere of influence, as outlined by the percentages agreement , and as a result the Soviet Union did not actively intervene in the Greek civil war. The Greek Civil war from 1946 to 1949 was fought between the Monarchists and the Communists, the Monarchists were backed by the British but as Britain, after the cost of World War Two and a crippling winter in 1947, was undergoing an economic crisis, it was no longer able to afford the cost of continued support of the Monarchists so it passed on the mantle of helping the Monarchists (in power at the time) to America, which helped as it suspected the USSR was helping the Communists. In spite of the fact that the Communists (or the DSE, the military branch of the KKE) were not helped directly by the USSR, only by its satellite states: Albania and Bulgaria and the independently communist Yugoslavia. US involvement took shape in the form of military aid as well as economic aid. The military aid given by the US took the form of military supplies as well  as advisers given to the Monarchist government. However some of the aid the Communists were receiving was cut off. This was due to the KKE siding with Stalin in the split between Stalin and Tito in 1948 resulting in not only the loss of Yugoslavia’s support for the KKE but also their leader Markos who was purged and replaced with his rival Nikos Zakhariadis, the KKE’s veteran Moscow-trained secretary-general. This loss of Yugoslavian support can be attributed as one of the main causes of the eventual loss of the Greek Civil war on October 16th 1949 where the KKE announced on the “Free Greek” radio station it’s withdrawal of its forces.

The economic aid given to Greece was an example of the implementation of the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan named after the secretary of state at the time: George C. Marshall. Marshall travelled to Europe to examine the conditions of post war Europe and concluded that the extreme poverty Europe faced was a breeding ground for Communism and if economic aid was not given to Europe it would likely fall to Communism. Congress, although hesitant at first due to the expense of the act, was swayed by the communist coup of Czechoslovakia and passed the Economic Cooperation Act in March 1948 and approved the hefty funding that would eventually amount to over $12 billion that would go to European Countries that accepted the aid in what is officially known as the European Recovery Program.The reasons for Marshall Aid were not purely political, there was a genuine humanitarian desire to help the war-torn people of Europe as well the benefit of being able to resume trade only when the economies of Europe had been restored, evidenced by the fact that 70% of the money went to pay for US supplied commodities. The aid the Marshall Plan gave came in the form of food, grants for capital equipment and transport service improvements.

However this was limited to only western European Countries as the USSR objected to what it called “dollar imperialism” and persuaded its satellite states to also reject the aid, as it saw the Marshall plan as an attempt by the USA to increase its influence over European Countries. In response the USSR established Cominform in 1947 and Comecon in 1949. Cominform aimed to establish a better communication between the Communist States and Comecon aimed to provide economic support to these Communist States. Although, despite Stalin’s best efforts the revival of Western Europe in comparison to its Eastern counterpart was impressive, this was accentuated by the contrast between East and West Berlin and it seemed to boast Capitalism as the superior ideology in the faces of the Communist States.




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