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Truman Doctrine

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noun

the policy of President Truman, as advocated in his address to Congress on March 12, 1947, to provide military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey and, by extension, to any country threatened by Communism or any totalitarian ideology.

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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What was the Truman Doctrine?

The Truman Doctrine was a United States foreign policy established by President Harry S. Truman in 1947. It was intended to prevent the spread of Communism in the aftermath of World War II by providing U.S. support to countries thought to be targets of influence by the Soviet Union.

President Truman laid out what would become known as the Truman Doctrine in his address to Congress on March 12, 1947. The speech directly addressed ongoing conflicts in Greece and Turkey, but it also stated Truman’s broader stance that it was the responsibility of the U.S. to intervene in totalitarian regimes (dictatorships) seen as a threat to international security.

The Truman Doctrine was a landmark in U.S foreign policy, and Truman’s speech is often considered the starting point of the Cold War—the decades-long conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (and their respective allies).

Why was the Truman Doctrine important?

The U.S. and the Soviet Union emerged from World War II as the two global superpowers, and each sought to check the influence and power of the other. When Britain announced it would no longer provide aid to Greece in its civil war against Greek Communists, Truman successfully requested that Congress send military equipment and financial aid. Truman feared that a Communist win in Greece would allow the Soviet Union to gain greater influence there. He also feared that influence could spread to neighboring Turkey.

This was the first time the U.S. took such an action outside of the Western Hemisphere, but it became the major part of U.S. foreign policy. Although neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union engaged in direct fighting (hence the cold in Cold War), both attempted to support regimes that shared their interests. This competing support led to proxy wars—conflicts in which the superpowers supported the parties engaging in direct combat. The civil war in Greece is considered the first of these proxy wars.

In his speech, Truman said, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by … outside pressures.” Although Truman didn’t mention the Soviet Union specifically, his speech—and the doctrine that came from it—was all about preventing the spread of Communism. The Truman Doctrine had a lasting impact that influenced world events for decades, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Did you know ... ?

In establishing the Truman Doctrine, Truman used specific, negative language to emphasize what he saw as a threat, comparing Communism to a “disease” that must be prevented from spreading. His rhetoric is credited in part with increasing public support for his policy.

What are real-life examples of the Truman Doctrine?

The reach of the Truman Doctrine wasn’t limited to a few conflicts in Greece and Turkey. It became the foundation of U.S. policy for many years.

 

 

 

 

What other words are related to the Truman Doctrine?

Quiz yourself!

The Truman Doctrine stated that America was responsible for:

A. supporting the spread of Communism.
B. intervening to support people living under totalitarian regimes.
C. ignoring conflicts happening in other countries.
D. containing the spread of Capitalism within the country.

How to use Truman Doctrine in a sentence

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