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The Truman Doctrine
Digital History ID 1235

Author:   Harry S. Truman
Date:1947

Annotation: The Truman Doctrine committed the United States to providing aid to countries resisting communist aggression or subversion.

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. It 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 military 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."

The Truman Doctrine committed the United States to containing the influence of the Soviet Union and combatting the spread of communism.


Document: At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.

One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guaranties of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.

I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid, which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.

The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. . . .

The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died.

We must keep that hope alive.

The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.

If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world-and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own Nation.

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