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Definition: Truman Doctrine from Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable

The pronouncement by US President Harry S. Truman on 12 March 1947 in which he declared immediate economic and military aid to the governments of Greece, threatened by communist insurrection, and Turkey, under pressure from Soviet expansion in the Mediterranean. Congress responded by promptly appropriating $400 million for this purpose. The move led to the establishment of the first American military bases abroad. See also Eisenhower Doctrine.

Summary Article: Truman Doctrine
from Dictionary of American Government and Politics

The Truman Doctrine refers to the ideas set out by President Truman in March 1947 on the containment of Communist aggression. In his speech to Congress, he pledged American support for 'free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures'. The speech also included a request that Congress agree to provide military and economic aid to Greece in its fight against Communism. The president also explained that he intended to send American military and economic advisers to countries whose political stability was under threat.

By his remarks, it was obvious that the United States had abandoned its pre-war isolationism and was willing to station troops abroad and adopt an increasingly interventionist role. Few raised a voice in protest against the direction of US policy that Truman set out, for it was widely accepted that it was a priority to prevent the Soviet Union from becoming more powerful. His view of America's place in the world and his ideas on containing Communist aggression and expansion were to become the foundation of foreign policy in the era of the Cold War. Truman did not actually employ the word 'containment' in his speech. Neither did many of his contemporaries who often spoke of 'rolling back' Communism. Whatever the term used, there was wide agreement with Truman's reasoning that Communist, totalitarian regimes coerced free peoples and constituted a threat to international peace and US nation security.

See also Cold War; Foreign Policy

© Duncan Watts, 2010

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