The Truman Doctrine

Harry Truman

In February, 1947, President Truman received word that the British could no longer afford to support the Greek Government, then under attack by Communist rebels. This withdrawal would almost certainly have meant the triumph of communism in Greece and probably in neighboring Turkey as well. In his memoirs Truman described how the decision was then made to issue the Truman Doctrine.

Greece needed aid, and needed it quickly and in substantial amounts. The alternative was the loss of Greece and the extension of the iron curtain across the eastern Mediterranean.

But the situation had even wider implications. Poland, Rumania, and the other satellite nations of Eastern Europe had been turned into Communist camps because, in the course of the war, they had been occupied by the Russian Army. We had tried, vainly, to persuade the Soviets to permit political freedom in these countries, but we had no means to compel them to relinquish their control, unless we were prepared to wage war...

Greece and Turkey were still free countries being challenged by Communist threats both from within and without.

These free peoples were now engaged in a valiant struggle to preserve their liberties and their independence. America could not, and should not, let these free countries stand unaided. To do so would carry the clearest implications in the Middle East and in Italy, Germany, and France. The ideals and the traditions of our nation demanded that we come to the aid of Greece and Turkey and that we put the world on notice that it would be our policy to support the cause of freedom wherever it was threatened..

On Wednesday, March 12, 1947, at one o'clock in the afternoon, I stepped to the rostrum in the hall of the House of Representatives and addressed a joint session of the Congress and asked the senators and representatives to meet together so that I might place before them what I believed was an extremely critical situation. To cope with this situation, I recommended immediate action by the Congress. But I also wished to state, for all the world to know, what the position of the United States was in the face of the new totalitarian challenge. This