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Did Truman cause the Cold War?


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Source 1 - Extracts from President Truman's speech of March 12th 1947 - The Truman Doctrine

Mr Truman's speech to Congress on March 12th has been hailed by the Belgian press … as a major event. The approval of the Catholic Conservative newspapers was almost unanimous although it was tempered by … the fear that a war between the United States of America and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics had been brought one step nearer …

Papers of all shades of opinion echoed the view that American economic imperialism was on the march to fill the vacuum caused by British economic and strategic withdrawals. Le Soir (Independent) reproduced the comment of its London correspondent that Englishmen were not sorry to see the Americans take their place although their desire for friendship with Russia remained strong. La Libre Belgique (Catholic) remarked that American imperialism was no worse - indeed it was rather less objectionable - than the Russian brand in Eastern Europe.

The Socialist press was divided on the subject and showed signs of discomfort, Le Peuple, while admitting that an optimistic view might be justified, did not disguise its fear that "Mr, Truman's brutal outspokenness might hasten the division of the world into two blocs".

The Flemish Socialist daily Vooruit was outspoken in its condemnation of the American action which, it maintained, had not been dictated by true democratic motives but by dollar diplomacy …

The Communist press stigmatised the speech as "a brutal move of American imperialism". Greece and Turkey, suggested De Roode Vaan, would be turned into American military bases …

Source 2 - Extracts from a Foreign Office report on reactions to the Truman Doctrine expressed in the newspapers in Belgium, March 1947

March 4, 1947


HUNGARY We are proposing joint US, UK and Soviet examination of the Hungarian political situation since we feel the intervention of Soviet occupation authorities in the conspiracy case has precluded the possibility of a local settlement and threatens to render impossible the functioning of democratic processes in Hungary. Schoenfeld is to make clear our opposition to the Soviet action.

GREECE The Greek Charge has presented the Department with a formal request for the "financial and other assistance" necessary to enable the Greek Government to purchase supplies of food and clothing and to enable the military and civil establishments to restore order within the country.

GERMANYAmbassador Murphy is informed that we disapprove in principle of the recruitment of Germans into the armed forces of the United Nations or of any other powers. We hope that a settlement of this problem may be reached at the Moscow Conference.

RELIEF We estimate the following emergency relief needs abroad following the end of the UNRRA program: Austria, $148 million; Greece, $56 million; Hungary, $40 million; Italy, $158 million; Poland, $128 million; and Trieste (on a tentative basis), $20 million. It is also felt that China may need $60 million in relief later in the year. It is believed that further relief would be unnecessary with the possible exception of Austria.

Source 3 - Telegram from US State Department officials in Hungary, Greece and Germany to Washington on the need for economic aid, March 1947

I need not tell you, gentlemen, that the world situation is very serious.

The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products - principally from America - are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.

… It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.

Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos … Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find full co-operation I am sure, on the part of the United States Government … Any government which manoeuvres to block the recovery of other countries cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States …

It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this Government to undertake to draw up unilaterally a program designed to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans … The program should be a joint one, agreed to by a number, if not all European nations.

… Political passion and prejudice should have no part. With foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.

Source 4 - A speech by US Secretary of state George Marshall at Harvard University in June 1947 setting out the 'Marshall Plan'

Source 5 - A British cartoon commenting on the Marshall Plan, January 1st 1948

It is clear that the restoration and further development of the national economy of European countries would be facilitated if the United states of America, whose productive capacities have only not diminished during the war but have considerably increased, could give that economic help which these countries require. At the same time it is known that the USA herself is also interested in utilising her credit possibilities for the expansion of her external markets …

Hitherto it has been regarded as axiomatic that every nation should decide the question of how best to secure the restoration and improvement of its economy. No European government intends to interfere in deciding whether the Monnet plan is good for France or not. This is the affair of the French people itself. But this also applies to Great Britain, to the Soviet union, to Poland and to Czechoslovakia, and to every other European country …

… working out an all embracing economic programme for European countries - which will inevitably lead to interference by certain countries in the affairs of other countries - cannot be accepted as a basis for cooperation for the countries of Europe. Such attempts are now being made by certain powers, but they are doomed to failure and will only undermine the international authority of those powers.

Source 6 - An article in the Soviet newspaper Pravda commenting on the Marshall Plan, June 29th 1947

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