President Harry Truman created the Truman Doctrine when he promised that the United States would protect Turkey and Greece from the Soviet Union. Truman decided on this plan after a meeting with the president of Greece. Truman opposed communism. He called for America to offer its support to any countries resisting communism.
Eastern Europe was attempting to recover from the ravages of World War II. The Soviets offered their communist plan to the regions in an attempt to solidify their power and influence. Truman wanted to ensure other countries would not fall under the Iron Curtain. Aid was given to both of these countries for military and political purposes. With the looming Soviet threat, American leaders believed a third world war was possible. America realized it would need as many allies as possible to defeat a superpower such as the Soviet Union. The United States feared if Greece and Turkey were to succumb to communism, Soviet influence would sweep the ravaged continent. The Truman Doctrine was the first in a series of containment documents.
The next was the Marshall Plan, which aided in rebuilding Western Europe’s economy. A goal of the Marshall Plan was to prevent Western Europe, which was suffering devastation after World War II, from adopting communism. The plan was announced on July 12, 1947, during a meeting of European countries. In addition to helping Western Europe, the Marshall Plan also assisted Japan. Japan’s economy was decimated in the aftermath of World War II. The Marshall Plan was presented to the Soviet Union. Russians had suffered more war casualties than any other European country. Nevertheless, the Russians refused the aid. One of Josef Stalin’s top emissaries, Vyacheslav Molotov, refused because he believed the United States was attempting to impose “dollar imperialism” on the Soviet Union. He also did not welcome an American sphere of influence in Europe and Asia.
The Marshall Plan was designed to provide immense economic recovery money to Western Europe over a four-year period. An estimated $13 billion was given to the countries to make reforms. These included economy stabilization and rebuilding infrastructures. The countries applied for admission into the Organization for European Economic Co-Operation. The Marshall Plan was one of the first steps toward European integration. Trade barriers between countries were eliminated. The Marshall Plan greatly benefited Western Europe. Almost every country participating saw great gains in its economy during the twenty-year period after the war. The only country that still had not met the levels the United States was hoping it would reach was Germany.
1. What countries did President Harry Truman want to help with the Truman Doctrine? What did he want from the American people?
2. Why did the Soviet Union want to bring communism to Greece and Turkey?
3. What were the military and political purposes for the Truman Doctrine in Greece and Turkey?
4. When and where was the Marshall Plan first introduced?
5. Why did Russian leader Vyacheslav Molotov refuse the Marshall Plan?
6. How did the Marshall Plan help countries in Western Europe?
7. What organization did countries in Western Europe join to be eligible for aid from the United States?
8. What was the only country that did not meet the expected economic reforms of the Marshall Plan?