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Passing of "Truman's doctrine" through the U. S. Congress

 © 2006 S. Ayriyan


A question of "Truman's doctrine" - one of the most important after World War II which defined further development of the international relations and in a historiography of Cold War enough attention is paid to it. The domestic historiography accustomed to consider us that all decisions of the U.S. Government during opposition with the Soviet Union were made unanimously by the Congress and the people of the United States. However, as we will see further, everything was not so simply especially as these decisions directly mentioned a purse of each American. Our task consists in the analysis of a debate in the U. S. Congress concerning approval of "Truman's doctrine".

The first international crisis which the president Truman had to face and the newly elected Congress of the 80th convocation was connected with the Greek problem.

The British government informed on February 24, 1947 Washington on the intention to stop assistance to the Greek government in civil war with communists and to withdraw by March 31 the troops from this Mediterranean country.

In general can seem that Great Britain chose not really successful time for a request that the United States undertook Gre's maintenance - tion in its fight against distribution of communism as the new Congress with prevalence of republicans was going to lower a tax rate and to cut down expenses of the federal budget. And the request of the British meant nothing but fair increase in the state expenditure.

However, despite this, the president Truman decided to accept a call, and already on February 27 he invites to the White House of republican senators of G. Bridges from New Hampshire, A. Vandenberg from Michigan, besides the being chairman of Senate Committee on the external relations, and democrat senator T. Kohn-nali from Texas and also republican congressmen of the speaker J. Martin, Ch. Eaton, the chairman of the Federation Council International Affairs Committee, S. Blum and the democrat S. Reyborn.

Harry Truman by means of the state secretary J. Marshall and his deputy D. Acheson who were also present at this meeting depicted gravity of the situation which is developed in Greece for all Mediterranean region, the world and safety of the United States. The general Marshall expressed all weight of situation in one offer: "...u we are the choice - either to work, or to get beaten" [1, page 109].

According to the president, leaders of the Congress looked "deeply impressed". With pride Truman noted that there was no voice against though there were also those who preferred to avoid what -

or allocations of funds for the foreign help, and those who were frank isolationists until recently.

Congressmen quite realized result of inaction of the United States. Senator Vandenberg said that the problem is that ". fall of Greece, then the subsequent collapse of Turkey can accelerate chain reaction which will become threat to peace and safety on all planet" [2, page 57; 3, page 347]. It would be desirable to pay attention and that it was told by one of leaders of isolationists. However, by this time he already headed fraction of so-called "internationalists" in Republican Party.

Upon termination of a meeting the leaders of Capitol Hill said that they will support Administration if the president Truman performs with similar ominous prediction publicly. Senator Vandenberg told: "If is that you want, there is only one way of its achievement - to address personally the Congress and to frighten very much the country" [4, page 555]. Further he told that if Truman himself acts, then he will be supported not only by it, but also most of members of the Senate. In reply the president asked legislators that he "was officially invited" to address the Congress for submission of the aid program of Greece and Turkey [3, page 338-339; 5, page 318].

After Truman made sure that in the Congress he will be supported by the most powerful and influential members, analysts of State department, Ministry of Defence and Presidential Administration were given "green light" in designing of future speech of Truman to the integrated session of legislature.

However even before pronouncing this speech the new direction of foreign policy of Truman faced opposition in the Congress.

On March 4, 1947 the representative of the State of Ohio Smith addressed the colleagues with the ardent speech which essence was that the statement of Great Britain is nothing but the official appeal to the United States to support them "the collapsing Empire". Smith noted that the British ". importunately admonish us to bear this burden for them" [6, page 1733]. Indignation of the congressman on the speech course everything accrues, and further he questions: "Who will be the following? Already now hint that Dardanelles. - key to control of the Mediterranean. That concerning Austria, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Finland, & #34; Free Polshi" Czechoslovakia and others?... We begin a new round of a lend-lease? The United States become an arsenal again? And if so, for what?" [6, page 1733]. Concluding the speech, he said that the United States cannot long perform work of England especially as it

will involve the USA in new war after which it will be very difficult for country to reach the prosperity.

He was supported by the representative of Pennsylvania the IAC-dauell which called strange the fact that Great Britain pours in troops and money to Palestine where do not want its presence and leaves Greece where wish its presence.

At the next cabinet council, passed on March 7, the Minister of Labour Shwellenbakh noticed that the anti-British elements in the country can accuse the U.S. Government that ". "we drag the British chestnuts from fire again" [1, page 110].

Having seen that its preliminary judgment was wrong and sceptics in legislature quite a lot, Truman again invites on March 10 to himself group of leaders of the Congress. It was more, than the first, and consisted of senators of Berkeley, Connally, Taft, Vandenberg and Whyte, the speaker of Chamber Martin and congressmen Blum, Kennon, Eaton, Hallek, McCormack, Reyborn, Short and Tayber. According to Truman, this meeting took two hours during which Acheson and the president discussed Greek crisis and its influence on all region with the legislators who were not present at the first meeting. Vandenberg and others assured Harry Truman of the full approval of its European policy.

In two days the president Truman made the known speech to the Congress. In 21 minutes he formulated the new concept of foreign policy of the country, the new principles, the new doctrine - "Truman's doctrine". Key expression in his speech was: "I believe that the policy of the United States has to support the free people which resist attempts of submission from the armed minority or to external pressure" [4, page 555]. Referring to the requests proceeding from the governments of Greece and Turkey, Truman asked the Congress to provide to these countries economic and military aid of 400 million a dale. for fight against communism.

The end of a performance of Truman was met by an applause, only one person remained to sit - it was V. Marcantonio, the representative of New York from the American labor party.

It was pleasant to much that their president costs on the principles of democracy, sympathizes with the people to which the danger threatens, and is an ardent opponent of communism. However not all agreed with the methods of upholding of the principles of freedom and fight against totalitarianism offered them. Bennett, the member of the House of Representatives from the State of Missouri were surprised, for example, that the designated methods were tested in China and got beaten: how will they work in Greece and Turkey?

After pronouncing the speech the presence of impressive opposition of assistance of Greece and Turkey became obvious. Interesting the fact that were in opposition both republicans, and democrats, both isolationists, and "internationalists".

Senators G. Taylor (Idaho), K. Pepper (Florida), G. Beard (Virginia) and At О&Дэниел (Texas) were ardent opponents of "Truman's doctrine" in a camp of democrats. Any of them was not present at a meeting with the president and could not express the fears earlier. In view of the fact that in the Senate the democrats did not make the majority the unity of their ranks was of great importance. Statements of democrat senators constituted danger meaning that they refused to support the democratic president and by that set an undesirable example to republicans. They did not constitute danger to the as colleagues met their performances in a debate with cold indifference.

Absolutely "Truman's doctrine" made other impact on republicans. Unlike democrats, the decision of republicans was of great importance and caused long and hot discussions. The republican fraction was divided into two camps. Supporters of adoption of the presidential program senator A. Vandenberg, the recognized leader in questions of foreign policy who was supported by senators G. Lodge (Massachusetts) headed, At Morse is (Oregon) and R. Earl Baldwin (Connecticut). The camp of opponents consisted of R. Taft (Ohio), the leader of a conservative wing in Republican Party, At Nouland is (California), E. Martin (Pennsylvania), etc.

The main opposition to "Truman's doctrine" came mainly from the camp of conservative republicans who after elections of 1946 strengthened the positions in the Congress: 26% of republicans were firm supporters of R. Taft, and 19% supported ideals of "new republicanism" and for the nominal leader of the party T. Dewey who was supported by senators Vandenberg and Lodge [7, page 202].

Vandenberg understood that he or has to convince conservative senators to follow his foreign policy of the Senate, or at least to muffle this force to be sure that the vast majority of republicans will follow for it. As F. Wilcox who worked two years under the leadership of senator from Michigan testifies if in the Senate there was no Vandenberg encouraging colleagues to support two-party approach in international issues, then the Greek-Turkish program and many other things could be not realized. The absence Wang-denberga in the Senate would mean indisputable leadership of Taft as in questions of domestic policy, and external, and, therefore, the history of the USA would be absolutely another [8].

The criticism of opposition concentrated on three directions: the new doctrine neglects the United Nations; she will lead to increase in the public expenditures and will create a precedent for other more expensive projects of the foreign help; the new doctrine in fact is aggressive and can provoke the Soviet Union to war.

We will consider each point one after another.

Neglect of the UN. Truman mentioned in the speech that the United Nations not in

a state to cope with the Greek problem. This statement caused discontent a number of senators and members of the House of Representatives. Already on the same day Bennett asked a question, for what purpose the president, having mentioned inability of the UN, did not designate its reason. About his those points of view are absent because the UN has all that is necessary for Greece: money, possibility of currency stabilization, constabulary forces. Reflecting, he comes to a conclusion that this organization was created just for permission of similar crises, and its such structural elements as the World Bank, with the capital in 9 billion a dale., the International Stabilization fund, the Security council and the approved project for the international constabulary forces, are capable to cope with a situation, like that that is available in Greece. And action of the United States bypassing the UN will be weakened by the authority of the young organization and will provoke the beginning of its crisis [6].

Senator Pepper from the State of Florida added

to it that as the Greek problem is a global problem, therefore, it specially was reserved by nobody for the USA and Great Britain, and has to decide only the international community. Besides if the United States allocate to Greece a loan, then they will actually declare to the world bankruptcy of the UN on which millions of people all over the world lay the hopes for peaceful future. Developing a subject further, he asks such questions: why money necessary for Greece is not allocated by the World Bank of the UN? Why the Stabilization fund UN will not be engaged in stabilization of national currency of Greece? Why will not defreeze the Greek assets in London? What will be from 70% of debts of Greece to the English banks? Whether owe the USA and them to pay? etc.

Senator during the debate on a question said to the colleagues that the Congress should not approve the presidential offer and has to allow the UN to deal with this problem [6].

Increase in the public expenditures. From the point of view of democrat senator Pepper if the United States assist Greece and Turkey, then they will undertake moral obligations "to bail each unstable nation" in Europe and to be accepted to elimination of local communists. All this will pour out not just in 400 million a dale., and in the much bigger sum which will lead to exhaustion of own resources of the USA that will make impossible assistance of economic character to anyone further.

Moreover, the United States since the end of war already enclosed 480 million a dale. to Greece, at the same time the economic help it was rendered also by Great Britain, but the result remained the same. Now interests it how many money will be absorbed still by Greece. It gives armed forces of this country which received 44 million a dale. as an example, but the army still remained "small and badly equipped" [6].

Unlike senator Pepper occupied with moral aspect of a question, senator Beard from Virginia with

great doubt notes that the Administration has no idea in what sum this program can pour out. From what articles of the budget will funds for implementation of new European policy be withdrawn? How will it influence internal economy of the USA? And whether the American people are ready to undertake the global obligation which price can only be assumed? [6].

Supporting senators Pepper and Beard, Bennett prepared the list from 40 questions for submission to State department from which about ten are anyway connected with an economic perspective. The congressman is interested in the price which should be paid the American taxpayers for the sake of the help to Greece and Turkey. And the most important concerns him a question if the USA assists Greece and Turkey whether then they will be able to deny similar assistance to other countries to which communism and civil disorders threatens?" [6].

The prominent isolationist, the congressman Smith, almost only who unambiguously declared the position: "I, for example, refuse to undertake agreements, powers, obligations which can involve. (us. - R.A.) in assistance of Britain for maintenance of its military establishment in Greece or anywhere still" [6, page 1732]. From his point of view the United States will have to stop somewhere as it is obvious that they will not be able economically to contain the whole world.

War probability with Russia. The president Truman in the above-mentioned speech openly did not accuse the USSR of attempt of capture of Greece and Turkey, but it was clear to everyone what aggressive force he meant. The congressman Bennett asked a question whether the United States will approve the position by force of troops if the Soviet Union considers actions of the USA unfriendly act? Disturbs him that the policy of the president will lead to tension and growth of arms between the USA and the USSR that will be the first step to barefaced war [6].

Senator Pepper surely notices that Truman's doctrine - the wrong policy promoting the beginning of war with the Soviet Union. To it it is clear that the purpose of the new doctrine not a parcel of 400 million a dale. for the aid to persons in need of Greece and Turkey, and the declaration of the USA on fight against communism everywhere where it will meet.

Concerning fight against communism the congressman Smith said most clearly. At one of meetings of the House of Representatives it said that "if we really want to win against communism, we have enough work at home. We have to be afraid not of the Russian communism, but communism of the New course". His sincere belief does not raise doubts that participation of the United States in World War II led them to a long way towards to destruction of the country. And new war in which the USA can be involved will strike a crushing blow at the state.

However there were also such legislators who were confused not so much by the doctrine, how many inconstancy of foreign policy of the USA in relation to the USSR. So,

representative of the State of Michigan in Chamber P. The best man notes that when the president proclaimed the new foreign policy in general directed against communism, the Committee on allocations of Chamber imposed the ban on attempt of the executive power to send copper and tin to the USSR. Moreover, when Truman called the Congress and the people to get up on fight against totalitarianism, the state secretary J. Marshall was in Moscow, ". where he was given to drink and fed by Russians" [6, page A1138]. Revolted him that while the United States actually declared the economic war of the USSR in Greece and Turkey, the government allows thousands of employees of the Soviet embassy and to members of the Communist Party of America, agents of the USSR freely to drive about over the country, finding out the state secrets, loosening loyalty of the American people and, the main thing, conducting promotion among Americans. According to the congressman from Ohio, it is demonstration of absence at the government of the United States of a certain consecutive program for prevention of approach of the USSR. He believes that the new doctrine - nothing but attempt to pacify antirussk and prorussk of the adjusted citizens of the USA.

Decrease in diplomatic activity with the Soviet Union, imposing of the ban on any trade relations with the USSR, new ". requirements that Russians got out from Korea, China, Romania, Poland and Greece." - here that the president Truman from the point of view of Smith had to announce.

In response to performances of sceptics and open opponents of this aid program opposition was entered by supporters of "Truman's doctrine". As one of the first on March 14, 1947 in the Senate senator R. Baldwin, the republican from Connecticut acted. Having supported the presidential program and having noted that the chairman of Senate Committee on the external relations took the correct position, he said that most effectively only the Congress because he is called by the people and the constitution to advocate the interests of the American nation will cope with a question of development of details of the program. Safety of the United States, according to him, is directly connected with preservation of peace around the world [6].

In the interview to the press given on March 13 after the meeting of foreign policy committee with representatives of State department, senator Wang-denberg said that independence of Greece and Turkey is important not only to the people of these countries, but also for safety of the USA and defense of peace on the planet. However the new policy should not be "imperialistic" at protection of interests of the USA. Because the UN is not capable to assist these countries, its functions have to undertake the United States. Having emphasized that in the center of this problem there is Soviet-American relationship, he says: "We have to accept or concede leadership" [6, page 2126].

The position of the chairman of foreign policy committee was supported by U. Morse's senators, the republic -

not c from Oregon, and B. McMahon, the democrat from Connecticut. Both recognized need to take a hard line in support of these people, defending the Charter and the principles of the UN. That the presidential program can provoke the USSR to war senator Morse notices that new policy - "... a right guarantee against war" [6, page 2126].

Categorically supported the president in the radio interview also republican senator from Vermont R. Flanders. According to him, the help to Greece and Turkey - the moral obligation of the USA to them for them "cynical and cool treachery". However, as he believes, a measure this temporary because the main measures of protection have to be still thought over. But one is clear for him: under no circumstances the American troops should not be sent to this region. He sees the most effective way of protection of the countries in economic stabilization, but not in sending the U.S. Armed Forces.

Already on March 14 senator Flanders submitted to the Senate the joint resolution forbidding export of goods to the Soviet Union until the USSR does not execute in full all undertaken obligations in Yalta and Potsdam [6]. Of course, they understood that Stalin will not begin to do it and, therefore, thus funds which were allocated to Greece and Turkey subsequently were released.

In three days, speaking at the regular meeting of the Senate, Vandenberg notified the colleagues that the committee subordinated to it intends to prepare the list of questions on the alleged help to Greece and for State department for the purpose of obtaining honest and objective answers. He suggested republicans and democrats to provide it by March 19 their own questions for inclusion in the general committee list. But there is a lot of receipts that the list managed to be made and classified only by March 28, and it included more than 400 questions. From them the Foreign Ministry selected a little more than 100 "typical" questions and gave on them the answers. The document containing questions and answers was soon distributed on offices of Capitol Hill [2].

In this option convenient for State department, the last could avoid unpleasant questions, reduce time of carrying out hearings and the debate on a problem and also to accelerate adoption of the presidential program.

Specialists of State department responded to the last two points of criticism (increase in expenses and provoking of the USSR at military collision) that such help is unprecedented in the history of the USA and it is not important as the Soviet Union or any other country will apprehend this program. The United States have no choice and they have to make it to prevent spread of communistic threat in Europe. The formulation of State department in general suited most of legislators. So, in response to the concerned letter from one of

senator Vandenberg noticed the voters: "You ask whether there are any precedents of such actions which we undertook in Greece and Turkey. I am afraid, we cannot rely on & #34; прецеденты" in the face of absolutely unprecedented conditions in today's world.... I do not know whether our new American policy will be able to suspend destructive trends. I can only tell that it is worth trying to make it as an alternative new & #34; Мюнхену" and, perhaps, new war" [3, page 341-342].

But the criticism concerning neglect the United Nations was more serious taking into account that creation of this organization was initiated by Americans. Again having declared inability of the UN to work in this situation as it was supposed that the USSR there in every possible way will interfere with it, the Foreign Ministry attracted to belief of the doubting senators and U. Austin's congressmen. He, the former republican senator from the State of Vermont and the current representative of the USA in the Security council, filed to the Congress a petition that the Greek-Turkish program answers the purposes and the principles of the UN.

A little earlier the Senate Committee on the external relations made a number of changes which had to provide its passing through the Congress to the program. On March 21 senator Vandenberg proposed the amendment to the resolution of the Senate No. 938, the law providing the help to Greece and Turkey. The amendment "gave" to the UN authority on suspension of this program. In it it was noted that the aid program to the stated countries of the Mediterranean region will be complete if the General Assembly and the Security council find it "unnecessary and undesirable" or if the U.S. President considers that it does not serve national interests any more [3, page 345-346].

It is necessary to emphasize that the listed structures of the UN could not influence continuation or the termination of the program of the Greek-Turkish help as in the General Assembly the United States had the so-called "mechanical majority". It is doubtful that Argentina and Belgium, for example, would support the requirement, say, by the Ukrainian SSR and BSSR to stop "imperialistic offensive" at Greece. On the other hand, the Soviet Union could achieve nothing also through the Security council as the United States would respond to any similar offer with imposing of the veto, and would be supported in it by other permanent members of Council.

Thus, we see that on this matter legislators focus real levers in hands of the president. However without this amendment as F. Wilcox testifies, the head of personnel of Senate Committee on the external relations, "... there would be the real trouble" [8].

As a result of only on April 3, 1947 foreign policy committee of the Senate unanimously approved the program of the president though Truman hoped to get approval of the Congress by March 31. Let's notice that all sceptics and ardent opponents of the doctrine did not enter in

this committee. The brightest oppositionist Pepper was a member of this Senate Committee in the Congresses of the 79th (1945 - 1947) and 81st (1949 - 1951) convocations, but to it was not in this Congress of the place. Considering the fact that the committee approved the program, the question came to the Senate for discussion where a debate continued till April 8. The first were given the floor Wang-denbergu in order that he announced a position and the decision of the committee. Having said that the committee considered the application of the president, heard testimonies of witnesses and advises the Senate to approve the program, republican senator emphasized that if Connally does not assign necessary means, then it thereby will give "green light of aggression" everywhere where it will be possible, and the indecision of the government in this situation will result in "big danger" [6, page 3198].


After Vandenberg from specialists in international issues the representative of democrats in committee senator T. Connally who expressed the full satisfaction with two-party approach to foreign policy of the USA who was offered by senator Vandenberg and the congressman Ch. Eaton acted. Supporting the colleague, he noted that inevitable crash of the Greek government if the United States do not assist him and as the country respecting democratic principles, they are simply obliged to make it [6] will follow.

Also the famous leader of conservative republicans R. Taft who recognized that the United States have to support status-quo participated in a debate, but at the same time emphasized that personally "the Greek-Turkish business" is not pleasant to it [4, page 556; 9, page 370371]. As A.S. Manykin truly noticed, "Truman's doctrine" nonplused Taft. The figure of such size just could not keep silent [7, page 202]. On the one hand, as future applicant for a post of the president from Republican Party he was not able to afford accusatory and peddling speeches to the program as, having passed for the isolationist, he could not fight for a chair of the head of state at the upcoming elections of the U.S. President in 1948. On the other hand, to support Truman meant to renounce the attempt of finding of "the person" in foreign policy; to betray the colleagues and to recognize correctness of adherents of "new republicanism", one of the principles of which was a two-party approach to foreign policy. After time he called the program of the Greek-Turkish help to some of many examples in which republicans "were nearly rejected from formation of the policy. They were just invited to agree with it" [2, page 61].

Despite a negative position of a number of the leading persons of republican fraction and some members of democratic party, on April 22 the program was approved by 67 voices against 23.

Did not slow down with the decision also the House of Representatives. Having listened to the conclusion of committee on foreign affairs, the letter from the state secretary J. Marshall asking positive reak-

tion as soon as possible, and Ch. Eaton's statement (chairman of the above-mentioned committee) that the presidential program is vital for "safety of the nation" [2 of page 60], the Chamber approved on May 9 the Greek-Turkish help by 287 voices (against 108 congressmen spoke). The last end was put by the president Truman: On May 22, 1947 the law was signed - implementation of "Truman's doctrine" began.

Summing up the result, we will note that the republican Congress played a huge role in adoption of the new concept of foreign policy of the United States. In view of that at intermediate congressional elections of the 80th convocation the victory was gained by republicans, and the right wing of the party strengthened the positions, it was possible to predict in advance result of attempts of administration of Truman to carry out through it the law on the Greek-Turkish help. But allowed the Congress to step over judiciousness and authority of some of her members through a number of stereotypes and the slowness in adoption of the major decisions. Vandenberg, the father of two-party approach to foreign policy acted as the engine of this movement. Truman accepted a call and won: its program passed through the Congress.

The analysis of a debate in the U. S. Congress showed that the unanimity on this matter was not. Some ignoring of the UN frightened, others - an opportunity to provoke the USSR to war, and the third were concerned by the forthcoming expenses. But the Vandenberg-Eton duet with success led most of Congressmen in

Rostov state university

questions of foreign policy. Oddly enough, but republicans assigned funds for implementation of new policy, urged the government not to delay and give tough repulse to the Soviet Union in Europe, handed to executive power new powers.


1. Truman H.S. Memoirs of Harry S. Truman: In 2 vol. Vol. 2. Bum-ay Suffolk, Hodder and Stoughton, 1955 - 1956.
2. Crabb Jr. C.V. Bipartisan Foreign Policy: Myth or Reality. Evanston, Ill. White Plains. N.Y., 1957.
3. Vandenberg Jr.A.H. The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg. Boston, 1952.
4. Byrd R.C. The Senate, 1789 - 1989: In 4 vol. Vol. 1. Washington, 1988 - 1993.
5. Connally T. My Name Is Tom Connally. N.Y., 1954.
6. Congressional Record. Proceedings and debates of the 80th Congress, 1st session. Vol. 93. Washington, 1947.
7. A.S. Manykin. "Era democrats": a party regrouping in the USA 1933 - 1952. M, 1990.
8. lcox.html (21.01.2006)
9. Patterson J.Mr. Republican: A Biography of Robert Taft. Boston, 1972.

On March 31, 2006

James Ford
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