CurrentEvents and U.S. Diplomacy
Presidentialdoctrines define the United States foreign policies. The cold war erais the most important era in the history of United States foreignpolicies. The goals and attitudes of the United States during thisperiod had huge impacts on America and the world. These attitudes andgoals were defined by the Truman Doctrines (Merrill, 2006). Thispaper analyses the context and impacts of the Truman doctrine.
TheTruman Doctrine was a presidential doctrine by Harry S. Truman whichpromised political, economic and military aid to countries threatenedinternally or externally by authoritarian and communist forces. Thedoctrine, which was announced to congress on 12th March 1947 andfurther emphasized on 1948, was one of the major foreign policy thatwas aimed at countering the geopolitical influence of the communistpowers during the cold war. The United States was determined toprotect Turkey and Greece from the Soviet Union influence (Michael,2006). However, the American military was not involved. PresidentTruman provided financial aid for economic development as well as theexpansion of military capabilities. While addressing the congress,President Truman argued that the United States had the responsibilityof supporting nations that were “resisting attempted conjugation byarmed minorities or by outside pressures” (Michael, 2006). Thespread of totalitarian regimes in the world was framed as a threat toglobal peace and a national security issue. Additionally, thepresident informed the congress that if the United States did notact, Greece and Turkey would fall to communism and soviet influencewould spread in the region (Michael, 2006).
Despitethe strained relations between the America and Soviet Union prior tothe Second World War, there was a degree of cooperation. Thiscooperation was essential in the fall of Nazi Germans in the Europeancontinent during the Second World War. Without the input of theSoviet Union, military actions against the Nazi Germans in the eastcould have been difficult. However, the relationship between the twonations involved a complex interplay between national, political andeconomic interests as well as ideological differences (Merrill,2006). The complex relationship resulted in a shift from corporationagainst the Nazi Germans to a bitter rivalry. The distinctiveness ofpolitical ideologies and systems in the two countries resulted indivergent and conflicting policies. Initially, the hostility of theUnited States emanated from the First World War when soviet leaderspulled Russia out of the war. The United States was also opposed tocommunism ideologies adopted by the Soviet leaders. However, thisdid not have drastic impacts on economic relations between the twonations. At the beginning of the Second World War, Joseph Stalintotalitarian regime worsened the relationship, despite the allianceduring the War (Merrill, 2006).
Inthe second half of the 20th century, after the Truman Doctrine, theglobal society was subjected to the longest conflicts between majoreconomic and military powers. The two nations stayed apart, with nodiplomatic relations for three decades. These decades of superpowersconflicts were characterized by the cold war. This involved tensionsand fear of a nuclear war and nuclear missiles arms race (Stent,2015). In the 1970s, the Soviet Union leaders adopted the détentepolicy which initiated diplomatic contact with the west. Although thepolicy mainly targeted increasing economic cooperation between theSoviet Union and the United States, it initiated disarmament talks.The tensions were however heightened when the Soviet Union invadedAfghanistan in 1979. These tensions existed until the collapse of thetotalitarian regime in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Theestablishment of a new nation and democratic changes has renewedcooperation between the two nations (Crockatt, 2002).
Althoughthe Truman Doctrine targeted the spread and influence of thecommunism in the world and the relationship between the United Statesand the Soviet Union, it underpinned the American foreign policy inthe post-war era. It sought to address security challenges that facedthe United States and the world (Donald & Eugene l, 2009).Consequently, the doctrine formed the basis of the Marshall Planwhich was adopted by the United States with an aim of rebuildingEurope after the war. The Marshall Plan aimed at stimulating economicgrowth, stability and preventing the spread of communism in Europewestwards. The plan also targeted other regions in the world. Thedoctrine changed the United States policy and how it interacted withother nations. For example, the decision to provide financial aid toGreece and Turkey marked a shift in the ideologies of the UnitedStates and the desire to extend its influence to the east. It alsomarked a significant step towards the abandonment of isolationistpolicies in favor of increased global involved. Some historians haveargued that the doctrines marked the beginning of the cold war andAmerican imperialism (Donald & Eugene, 2009).
TheTruman Doctrines did not success containing the increased influenceand aggression of the Soviet Union. Rather than changing itsbehaviors, the doctrine increased the tension between the twonations. The Soviet Union made numerous attempts to increase itsgeopolitical, economic and ideological influence. The communistpowers sought to expand its influence in Europe, Asia and Americas. The 1949 nuclear weapons test by the Soviet Union, which opened a newera of nuclear tensions, could have been motivated by the policy.Although the United States had extended the Marshal Plan to theSoviets, they rejected the economic assistance due to the politicalconditions associated with the plan. In general, the Truman Doctrinedid not achieve the intended response from the Soviet leaders(Crockatt, 2002).
Presidentialdoctrines define the attitudes of the American foreign policiestowards a particular nation, region or global issue. The doctrinescan have an influence on behaviors and policies in other nations.Truman doctrine offered support to nations around the world that werethreatened by communism. However, rather than reducing tensionbetween the two superpowers, the doctrine increased the rivalry.
DonaldE. D. & Eugene, P. T. (2009). DistortedMirrors: Americans and Their Relations with Russia and China in theTwentieth Century.University of Missouri Press.
Crockatt, R. (2002). TheFifty Years War: The United States and the Soviet Union in WorldPolitics,1941-1991. Routledge.
Merrill,D. (2006). "The Truman Doctrine: Containing Communism andModernity". PresidentialStudies Quarterly36 (1): 27–37.
MichaelB. (2006). OurDocuments: 100 Milestone Documents from The National Archives.Oxford University Press. pp. 194–99.
Stent,A. (2015). TheLimits of Partnership U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-FirstCentury.Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press.