The Truman Doctrine 1947 was a declaration of policy, in which America felt the right to protect the free people from the threat of communism. How America planned to do this was through the Marshall Plan 1947, where if a country requested, America would fund them in the fight against communism, and help to rebuild their economy. Some historians believe this policy to be what it is – helping countries to stay democratic, in the fight against the suppressive communism, other historians believe this to be a political move, where by offering money to needy countries, America was bribing its political alliance.
Whatever their underlying motive, it would appear that they were successful. These two polices came just in time when Britain declared it could no longer support the civil war in Greece, and the fight for Turkey. America then donated $350 million to Greece and $50 million to Turkey to help fund the war on communism. A bigger sum was given to Greece, perhaps because it was more of a threat to Europe if it became communist, geographically – but nonetheless, even if America had its personal goals to achieve, Turkey and Greece did not reside to communism.
However, from 1945-8, Stalin had used salami tactics to gain most of Eastern Europe under his sphere of influence. He would set up coalitions in the states, where eventually, the communist party would take over the ruling government. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were set up to relieve such countries, however, how many countries under the sphere took up this offer? None. This must mean that Stalin’s hold over them was so tight, that they could not breakaway to accept this help. However, no country even tries to accept the offer – why?
There would have been repercussions, but not fatal ones with the support of the West, and the benefits would have been more than tempting, as most countries lived in squalor and fear. Perhaps, they did not want to join the West in their crusade, and were content in their current situation. There are no uprisings or rebellions until the 50’s, when Stalin was dead. This then leads to the possibility that Stalin was an extreme totalitarian compared to Khrushchev – if the people wanted to break free, who could they, if he controlled their governments with the Red Army?
The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan only worked to a degree on non-communist countries, but were untouchable on Stalin and his sphere. This is probably why the Truman Doctrine was only a containment policy, and not one of total destruction – Stalin was too great a force to contend with (at the moment). Yet, there are many other cases that could have saved Western Europe from communism, or at least helped. The Iron Curtain speech in 1946 was a useful piece of propaganda that swayed the public opinion on communism.
Churchill gave a speech stating there was an obvious divide between East and West Europe. At the time, he was not a political leader, and therefore the reaction, if negative, would not have been significant, for it was an unrelated opinion. Although, it was down to Churchill’s reputation that led to the people showing support. There is no open opposition to the West’s actions, and this set-up before the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, may have opened the door for a successful policy. They had the backing of the people, so it would have been easier to implement such policy.
The creation of NATO may also have been a significant factor in trying to contain communism. NATO was an organisation in which if its members were under threat from attack of communist countries, the other members would help to defend them using their military. This was the first warning sent to the East – as well as any other countries wanting to attack any Western countries. This in my opinion would have been a very successful deterrent, if it had not been for the development of the atomic bomb by Stalin in the same year.
NATO would not have been a threat if Stalin could counter them with a bomb. Later in 1950, the Truman Doctrine was then abandoned. This might have been because of the development of the atomic bomb, so the NSC-68 was introduced – the idea to ‘roll-back’ communism. By abandoning the previous policies, does this mean that they were no longer successful in their aim, or maybe, they were no longer relevant? It seems that from the three years that were in play, they were the most significant factor in saving Western Europe from communism.
Although, it was not the sole saviour; the path was paved with the Iron Curtain Speech and it was justified by the Long Telegram. At the same time, the two policies were the causes of some problems, nor could they solve some – the sphere of influence for one. What made them so successful was that there was no retaliation from the East – probably because they did not have the military, economic or political power to counteract. When the East finally did catch up, it was then when the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were abandoned, proving only to be successful because it was allowed to be so.