12 March 1947
“Truman Doctrine" Announced
The British announcement on February 21 that they could no longer afford to send economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey posed a serious challenge to the Truman administration. After all, in 1946 the Soviet Union had exerted heavy pressure on Turkey to internationalize the straits, pressure which had only been resisted thanks to substantial assistance from Great Britain and the United States. Moreover, civil war continued to rage in Greece between the elected government and a communist-backed guerrilla movement. Again, without backing from abroad it was feared that communism might triumph.

Truman decided immediately that the United States had to step in to help the governments of Greece and Turkey—the problem was selling this idea to Congress, which was dominated by the Republicans. In a meeting with congressional leaders Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson explained that if these countries were allowed to fall to communism, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa would follow.

In his speech asking for aid to Greece and Turkey Truman told Congress that he believed it must be American policy to assist “free peoples” throughout the world who were threatened with communist aggression, either from without or within. Congress ended up approving the proposed aid package in May, but more importantly Truman had committed the United States to a potentially unlimited effort to resist communism around the world.

Links:
- Excerpts from Dean Acheson, The Decision to Help Greece and Turkey

- Excerpts from Harry S. Truman’s “Truman Doctrine” address to Congress, March 12, 1947

- Henry A. Wallace, Speech on the Truman Doctrine