“It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”- Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman in March 1947 delivered a speech to congress , which many historians dispute as being the official beginning of The Cold War. Truman’s foreign policy was a sharp contrast to America’s previous foreign policy stance, isolationism. Truman stated America would financially and militarily aid countries and governments to suppress the attack of armed forces. Its main purpose was to prevent Soviet imperialism, and the spread of Communism. This political stance would be incorporated by future American presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan. This was referred to as being the Truman Doctrine.
The Truman Doctrine was a response to the events occurring in Greece in 1947. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, concluding an end to World War Two, Greece had been liberated by the Allies. The Greek royal government had been restored with the assistance of the British. Since 1944 the power struggle between the monarchists and the communists, inevitably erupted a civil war between the two groups. Joseph Stalin had made agreements to Winston Churchill the Soviet Union would not directly assist the Greek communists, and Greek would remain an area of British influence. Despite this, Yugoslavia and Albania had aided the Greek communists. The west had perceived this as Soviet expansion.
By 1947 it was conspicuously evident the British government could no longer pursuit its overseas commitments. The economic deprivations was crippling Britain. The British government had accumulated a budget deficit of £300 million, during the World War 2. The extreme winter weather of 1946-47 damaged the British economy even further. In February 1947, the British government had consulted the USA, without US intervention Greece will eventually fall under a communist regime.
The USA’s secretary of state, George C. Marshall, had witnessed the shattered economies of Europe. He was aware economic assistance to Europe was essential, in tackling mass poverty and suffering. The plan would provide over $17 billion (adjusting for inflation $184 billion) in economic support to Europe. Churchill regarded it as being ‘the most unselfish act in history’. They were also other motives behind the Marshall Plan, there was a fear the USA’s economy would undergo a recession if Europe’s economy would not recover. As Europe would not be a market for US goods and services. In addition, Truman was aware countries experiencing mass poverty and having no economic prosperity, was increasingly likely to be a battleground for communism.
Marshall Aid was available for any European state, but the conditions made it impossible for communist nations to qualify for the programme. Only western Europe were provided with Marshall Aid , making the programme exclusive to capitalist countries. The Soviet Union regarded had this as an attack on communism. Marshall Aid had escalated tensions even further, and acted as a catalyst for the Berlin Blockade which occurred in 1948-49. Moltovo labelled the act as dollar imperialism, a method in which the USA would control Europe and exploit Europe for its own agenda. The countries of Eastern Europe had rejected Marshall Aid under Soviet pressure.
In response to Marshall Aid, the USSR established Cominform in 1947, an establishment to communicate between the different communist parties in Europe. And later in 1949 Comecon was set up to financially assist nations in Eastern Europe.
Czechoslovakia remained the only democratic nation in Eastern Europe, elections were going to be due in May 1948. Czechoslovakia had not received Marshall Aid, the failure in not receiving Marshall Aid was blamed on communists. Before the elections emerged, the communists had seized control of the police force and purged non-communist supporters. Political parties with the exception of communist parties were expelled from government in February. The only opposition remaining in government, Jan Masaryk, suffered defenestration, most likely by the hands of the secret police force. The new communist president Gottwald had replaced president Benes who was forced to resign.