ML – Truman Doctrine and Greece

With the end of the war between Nazi Germany and the Grand Alliance (Britain, Russia and the USA) came the tensions that would be the basis for a new conflict between the East and West that would last for decades. After the undeniable tensions that rose to the surface at Potsdam in 1945 and Churchill’s provocative Iron Curtain speech, it was only a matter of time before another conflict arose.

Since the winter of 1944, there had been a civil war in Greece between the monarchists and the communists, otherwise known as EAM and EDES. The monarchists asked Churchill for help and he gladly accepted due to the fear of the spreading Communist ideology infiltrating the West. Churchill helped restore the National Republican Greek League (EDES) into power and the size of the opposition (EAM) greatly decreased. In the 1946 election, the public voted greatly in favour of the EDES, however, the elections were corrupt and the communists decided to form the DA (Democratic Army).

The British were committed to helping the EAM with their fight and it seemed as though Stalin was keeping his deal with Churchill by acknowledging Greece as  an area of British influence by not getting directly involved. Despite this, the communist governments in Yugoslavia and Albania did send aid to the DA, therefore it could be said that he was somewhat influential. The British believed that firm action was needed however they could not sustain their affairs overseas due to their debts from the war (the government owed £3000 million). They were forced to admit they could no longer afford to aid the civil war and in 1947 warned the USA that they could not maintain troops in Greece. The fear of another Communist takeover saw Greece fall into the hands of the US government, who ended their policy of isolation through the deliverance of the Truman Doctrine. This support from the US would eventually result in a victory for the EAM in 1949.

The Truman Doctrine, as stated before, marked the end of the USA’s policy of isolation which had cut their losses in the past two wars. Truman, being extremely anti-communist, issued a speech that brought in the policy of containment. Due to the events that had occurred post-war, there was an arising fear of the spread of Communism and the expansion of the ‘Iron Curtain.’ The USA had believed that if Greece had fallen to communism, then shortly after Turkey would fall to communism too, this was known as the domino effect. To prevent this spread, as mentioned previously, the USA intervened in Greece and along with this intervention came the Truman Doctrine. The policy acted as a warning to the USSR but Truman was careful not to mention the country in the introduction of the policy itself. The policy stated that the USA would offer aid to vulnerable countries that could be under threat of a takeover. In other words, the policy aimed to contain Communism by building the economies of countries devastated by war and therefore making it harder for Stalin to employ his salami tactics and seize influence over more countries. The Truman Doctrine was an indirect warning to Stalin and it lead to the Marshall Plan and Marshall Aid which could’ve been an attempt to strengthen and spread Capitalism by the West.

The Marshall Plan led directly on from the Truman Doctrine and was set up in 1948, officially named the European Recovery Program (ERP). The program was announced by US Secretary of State, George Marshall. After the Second World War, many countries in Europe had been devastated economically and politically. This state of devastation and vulnerability made it easier for Stalin to spread his influence and forcefully impose Communism which was feared by the West, hence the setup of the Marshall Plan. The scheme aimed to provide economic aid and strengthen democracies in the countries that had been weakened by war. It was provided to a total of sixteen countries and was also offered to Eastern Europe however they were forbidden to accept under Stalin’s orders. He later set up his own form of aid for countries under Soviet influence. The Marshall Plan, however, was successful in asserting Capitalist dominance in Europe as at that period of time the USA was the more financially able superpower. Despite this being another cause of rising tension, it was not the last between the two superpowers. The Cold War was only just beginning.


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