Truman’s Ulterior Motives

3 Observations

1. In his address to Congress to request aid for the reconstruction of Greece and Turkey due to the damages done during the Second World War, President Truman justified his request by saying that if the United States didn’t provide assistance to these countries, another power could potentially impose upon their respective sovereignty. He omitted what seemed to be his true intention: the inhibition of communist ideas. He seemed to believe that if the United States did not act promptly, the Soviet Union would instead try to impose communism upon these nations, even though he did not once mention the Soviet Union by name. His true intention was to instill democracy before the USSR could instill communism.

2. It is not uncommon for the President of the United States to request that Congress work with the Executive rather than against it. While most of the time this plea falls upon deaf ears, Truman managed to win the approval of the Legislature with his appeals to preserving the sovereignty of the two countries. He managed to do so with a variety of tactics, the most prominent of which was appealing to Congress’s sympathies with the Greek people, of whom he says “Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient natural resources has always forced the Greek people to work hard to make both ends meet. Since 1940, this industrious and peace loving country has suffered invasion, four years of cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal strife.”

3. I must provide credit for the following point to its source: ( This page brought up an interesting point which I felt compelled to include in this post: the Truman Doctrine changed the United States’ policy on foreign involvement. While normally the US tended to keep out of international affairs prior to World War II, Truman’s call for aiding Greece and Turkey caused the US to become more active in shaping the global economy and network.

2 Questions

1. In what way(s) might the Truman Doctrine be considered a factor of the initiation of hostilities between the Soviet Union and the United States?

2. Upon reading the Brezhnev Doctrine, do you think it is a response/reaction to the Truman Doctrine?

Interesting Idea

The Truman Doctrine was seemingly the United States’ first attempt to impose democracy in the Middle East. Not only does the United States provide aid to Turkey in order for the nation to rebuild, but one year after he issued this request to Congress, the United States became the first country to officially recognize the sovereignty of Israel. In quick succession, President Truman established relations with two sovereign nations in this region of the world, perhaps to further prevent the spread of communism.

Khrushchev’s Unintended Consequences

In response to Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in Moscow, as well as to the growing discontent at home, citizens of Poland, Hungary and eventually Czechoslovakia.

Poland: June 1956

Workers broke out in protest against the unpopular Communist regime and demanded better pay and treatment at the hands of the government. The demonstrations eventually fizzled out thanks to the reformist Wladyslaw Gomulka, who worked with Soviet leaders and the Polish Communist Party to appease the workers and avoid a revolution.

Hungary: October 1956

A year prior, Hungarian’s liberal leader Imre Nagy was removed from power by supporters of his previous opponent Matyas Rakosi (who had run Hungary up until 1953, when Nagy took power). Discontent continued to grow until October of 1956 when students who had followed the protests in Hungary staged a demonstration that turned violent. The violence soon grew out of hand with rebels arming themselves and forming councils to take over factories. Soviet forces were a part of the initial struggle but it wasn’t until October 31st that Khrushchev decided that a full invasion was necessary to control the situation. Nagy, who had been restored as Prime Minister on the 24th, frantically declared Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact in an attempt to place himself at the center of the revolutionaries resistance. Nagy was eventually captured, tried and executed by the Soviets, along with other insurgent leaders.

Czechoslovakia: 1968

Alexander Dubcek became First Secretary of Czechoslovakia in January 1968 and brought with him the promise of “socialism with a human face.” His grand vision of reform was most unwelcome to the Soviets, who not only feared what could happen in Czechoslovakia, but also what would happen if the wave of reform spread to the Union itself. Soviet officials tried to force Dubcek to abandon his reform plans but he argued that it was too late–the people had too much momentum to accept a return to old ways. In late August the Politburo launched a joint-Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia to contain the situation.

This invasion translated into the new Brezhnev Doctrine, which asserted the rights of “the right and responsibility of Communist parties of fraternal socialist countries to intervene against anti-socialist degeneration.” ( Although the invasion was relatively violent-free, the reform movement was squashed and would not regain momentum for quite a while.