The Truman Doctrine

Author: Harry S. Truman- He was the 33rd president of the US. He was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president before Roosevelt died.  He helped to end World War II when he dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. He helped to start the Cold War using communist containment. [1]

Context: He was giving this speech during the Cold War, which was not a physical war fought with weapons, but rather a period of military tension after World War II between the capitalist US and its allies and the communist Soviet Union and its allies. [2] In addition, this was also taking place during the time of the Greek Civil War, which left Greece essentially economically devastated.

Language: Truman uses persuasive and simple, clear language to get his point across to those that he is addressing. He lays out his viewpoints very well.

Audience: He is addressing Congress during a joint session.

Intent: This was Truman’s attempt to stop Soviet expansion during the Cold War. His intent was to contain communism throughout Europe and to provide help to any country threatened by communism.

Message: Truman’s message was that communism needed to be contained. He uses Greece as an example for this. He describes how the Greek Civil War has left Greece with “cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal strife.” He argues that Greece’s very existence is highly threatened by Communist activities and that the US must provide support for Greece, Turkey, and any other country in need under the threat of communism.




Why do you think Truman was so adamant about containing communism?

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.