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The Truman Doctrine Previous Next
Digital History ID 3402

 

A presidential message to Congress in March 1947 proposed economic and military aid to countries threatened by a Communist takeover.

In February 1947, Britain informed the United States that it could not longer afford to provide aid to Greece and Turkey. The situation seemed urgent. The Greek monarchy was threatened by guerrilla warfare, and the Soviet Union was seeking to control the Dardenelles in Turkey, a water route to the Mediterranean. The U.S. government feared that the loss of Greece and Turkey to communism would open Western Europe and Africa to Soviet influence. The U.S government also worried that if the Soviet Union gained control over the Eastern Mediterranean, it could stop the flow of Middle Eastern oil.

President Truman responded decisively. He asked Congress for $400 million in economic and military aid for Greece and Turkey. This was an unprecedented amount of foreign aid during peacetime. He also declared that it was the policy of the United States "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

Truman's overarching message described two ways of life that were engaged in a life-or-death struggle, one free and the other totalitarian. The United States would help free people to maintain their free institutions and their territorial integrity against movements that sought to impose totalitarian regimes.

The Truman Doctrine committed the United States to providing aid to countries resisting communist aggression or subversion and provided the first step toward what would become known as the Containment Policy.

Read: PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN'S ADDRESS BEFORE A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS, MARCH 12, 1947

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