The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy
A situation that required US diplomatic efforts during President Truman’s time was when he tried to formulate a forum instead of the futile League of Nations. The new venture, United Nations Organization, aimed at dissolving the differences between nations without allowing them to lead to devastating wars. As the legacy of the League of Nations was criticized, the formation of a powerful and unbiased agency was a herculean task. Undoubtedly, its main intention was to gain a significant role for Americans in the international life, and he succeeded in its making to a great extent. However, there were a number of roadblocks amidst. The major barrier to the formation of the UN came from the Soviet Union as they were reluctant to join it. At this juncture, ( ac cited in American president: A reference resource),Truman managed to ensure their participation in the founding conference of United Nations Organization in San Francisco by sending a special emissary Harry Hopkins to Moscow. However, the San Francisco Conference ended in June 1945 after most of its participating nations, including the Soviet Union, signed the founding U.N. Charter. If Truman had not intervened with his diplomacy, the formation of UN would have been delayed (American president: A reference resource).
The diplomatic doctrine that Mr. President followed was that United States would provide political, economic, and military service to all democratic nations which were under the threat of external or internal authoritarian forces. Evidently, the president indirectly mentioned the threat of communist countries especially from the Soviet Union to the democratic and capitalist countries in the Eastern Europe. He made this doctrine lucid in a speech delivered before the joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947. The immediate reason for this speech was the declaration by the British government that it would no longer help the Greek government in its civil war against the Greek communist party by providing military and economic assistance. In his speech, Truman urged the Congress to support the Greek government against the communists. For, the US believed that Soviet Union had been supporting the Greek communist party, and unfortunately if the communist party won the war, the Soviet Union would ultimately influence the policies of the Greek. America never wanted the communist party to flourish posing a threat to capitalism and imperialism. Truman (as cited in The Truman doctrine 1947) believed that proliferation of communist party will be a serious threat to the US; and as the relationship between the US and Soviet Union had been worsening, America viewed the Soviet intervention in Greek and Turkish affairs with suspicion. The withdrawal of Britain from providing assistance to Greece made the declaration of Truman’s diplomatic doctrine imminent.
To many, Truman’s doctrine may seem wise political manipulation to keep U.S. rivals far off. But to some extent, it could put forth some effects on the US and other countries as well. One of the major demerits of the communist form of government that the world witnessed was that the rulers went totalitarians once they got into power. The declaration of the President to provided support to all democratic countries and helped a check on those countries that were about to fall under communist regime. The support provided by the US to the Greek was of great help for them during the internal war with the communist rivals. If the US had not extended them a helping hand, they would not have emerged from the nasty effects of the conflicts. As Barnet (1968) points out, one of the most important repercussions of Truman’s doctrine and American involvement in Greece was the development of new bureaucracies concentrating in military assistance, police administration, and economic support that they applied to many different conflicts in the next twenty years. Thus, according to Barnet, American military intervention in the rest of the world got increased since it maintained the image of a world police.
The declaration of the doctrine by the president had some positive implications. For instance, sending military and economic aid to friendly nations helped to build up a network of allies who stood together whenever they met with a threat from the neighboring countries. Thus the principle of collective security contained in the doctrine ultimately led to the formation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Moreover, as America always wished, the declaration presented the communism well as a global threat and thus instilled a kind of anti communist hysteria in the minds of the people. Countries like Italy and France that had powerful communist movements were given a number of military and non military assistance in order to keep communism away. Evidently, it was the declaration that by and large reduced the influence of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Europe. What America and other capitalist countries wanted was a complete renouncement of communism by its citizens. To a great extent, they could win in their attempt. However, the main negative implication of the declaration was that it infused the feeling of fear of an inevitable war in the minds of the people who had already witnessed the vicious effects of the Second World War. Some members of the state department believed that the infusion of American military strength and money would establish a moderate, stable and reasonably democratic government in those areas, and hence the military operations that were launched should be regarded as an instrument to set up the preconditions for bringing about social and political change (The Truman Doctrine). But, evidently they were disillusioned. Moreover, some political thinkers are of the opinion that it was the declaration that ended up in the American military interventions in Korea and Vietnam that turned out to be ineffectual in all aspects.
American president: A reference resource. Miller Center, University Virginia. Retrieved from http://millercenter.org/president/truman/essays/biography/5
Barnet, R. J. (1968). “The Truman Doctrine and the Greek Civil War” In Intervention and Revolution: The United States in the Third World. Third World Traveller. Retrieved from http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Insurgency_Revolution/Truman%20Doc_GreekCW_IAR.html
The Truman doctrine 1947. US Department of State: Office of the Historian. Retrieved from http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/TrumanDoctrine
The Truman Doctrine. Retrieved from http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war8_TrumanDoctrine.htm