By 1947, the United Kingdom’s tank had run empty on aid for the Greece and Turkey. They urged the United States to pick up the tab. (Major Problems, Truman Doctrine pg. 202) The reason the UK requested this us because those countries were very economically unstable and susceptible to communism, a new up and coming ideology in the East. The United States had an agenda to prevent this, and saw the opportunity arise and jumped on it with diabolical plan. First was to declare a war on communism, which Truman does via addressing congress in 1947. Second was the economic plan that was merely suggested by George C. Marshall. And finally the military’s plan and the true agenda of the U.S. revealed. (At different times) These are steps that attempt to halt communism, prevent another world war and to keep the USSR at bay from world domination.
President Truman saw the opportunity that the United Kingdom presented, a chance to avoid totalitarian regimes from taking over both Greece and Turkey. Both which were very real possibilities. But he must make very clear and concise demands to congress, and convince them to follow through with this plan. Instead of going partisan or right and left, he appealed with anti-communism statements. It was the bipartisan way to go, and turned out to be very efficient. He notified the House that the UK had informed them that they could no longer give economic and financial backing to the Greek and Turkish governments. He informed them that the Soviet Union was encroaching upon weak Third World countries, and was turning them Red one at a time. President Truman argued that the loss of Greece would greatly damage the attempt to repair the rubble it was still attempting to recover from. And if Turkey were to be lost to the USSR, the Middle East would erupt into hysteria and all turn communist as well. Using twenty-twenty hindsight, these were clear and early signs of “Domino Theory”, an idea that if one week Third World countries turns communist, the surrounding countries would turn Red as well. Though not directly states, nor has the term been coined, it is apparent that this is a mentality grown long before the discovery of said theory. He proceed to ask the U.S. House of Congress for $400,000,000 “…for the prevention of starvation and suffering in countries devastated by the war…” (Major Problems, Truman Doctrine pg. 203) He gives his a best most sound argument when he points out that the money that will be spent is more of an investment, to insure that that hundreds of billions they spend during World War II doesn’t go to waste by having another occur.
A comparison can be made to college students’ tuition and the books they must purchase. The student pays some figure around $10,000 for his or her tuition. When purchasing books for such a classes, they notice the totally adds to around $500. This may seem unreasonable, but if those $500 are not spent, then there is a large chance that the student my fail some of the classes, loosing the initial worth of the $10,000. But that’s a five percent cost in insure the tuition. Where as the $400,000,000 is requesting a mere morsel of one-tenth of a percent of what was spent during the war. Naturally, congress agreed and aid was given to Greece and Turkey. This marked the beginning of the ideological base of the rest of the Cold War. For example; Greece had an insurgence that we painted red, soon they surrendered in 1949, but did not become democratic, just anti-communist. That was all that mattered and so this was a technical “victory” of the Cold War
Europe was in a wave of economic bad times. This was seen as step towards political instability, which calls for radical solution and then eventually war itself. These symptoms occurred especially in Italy and France. France had a communist party that took up to nearly 25% of the voting. Things in Italy were worse, to the United States, because they had up to 50% communist voting. These depressions occurring throughout different countries in Europe and would cause political change naturally favoring the USSR. That is, if the West stood there and watched.
George C. Marshall was the Secretary of State in 1948 and saw the communist bug spreading throughout Europe, posing a major threat to the free world. He suggested that we give economic aid to several western European countries to help prevent them from succumbing to communistic ways. This was major global political move. The experiment called “democracy” across the pond was not the strongest nation in the world. They are the only nation in 1948 with the sufficiency to provide such aid. They also offered the aid to Russia as well. This was brilliant double-edged diplomatic sword employed by the United States. When Russia denies this, they will look like the proverbial “bad guy” or “jerk”. And on the very unlikely, nearly impossible chance that Russia accepts the money, which would greatly diffuse tension, confrontation and possibly entire Cold War as a whole. Obviously, the Soviet Union declined the handout.
This was another theoretical victory for the West. Both Italy and France, with the help of substantial U.S. aid, prevented communist parties from succeeding in taking over. There were a few problems though with the Marshall Plan. The dosage of aid given to the western-European countries had some side effects. For one, inflation occurred because not all the money would or could be distributed in a government to help something effectively. This may not bee seen as a problem to some, but people argued that this aid caused dependence on the United States, and that they would have to fall in line in order to receive more product. Other argued that money mostly went to military use, but not directly. The aid did not exactly go to mobilization of bombs, tanks and guns but it did help free up funds to do so. All in all, the West had won again in the prevention of communism.
In 1947, they United States created their own military establishment. The National Security Act of 1947 was passed, and created the modern unified bureaucratic structure we know today as the Department of Defense. This was created, by no coincidence, to “fight” the cold war. This is where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) comes into play. At the time it was primarily what its title implied, an intelligence-gathering group. (The fancy tactical espionage action occurs later in post 1950s) The day this act was signed, 1.7 billion dollars of U.S. aid was sent to Western Europe.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created after the signing of the suggested treaty in April 4th, 1949. This was a collective defense organization built up of, the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium (where the headquarters are located), Luxembourg, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands. (Truman doctrine aid predestined Greece and Turkey to join later) The fear of the USSR was rampant in the U.S., along with the momentum of the success from both the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan; it was only natural that NATO would be spawned.
In 1949, the only way drop a nuclear bomb anywhere near Moscow, more specifically to annihilate the Kremlin, was via air bomber. This was the purpose of the NATO plan. This lead to the several U.S. Air Force bases to be stationed throughout Europe. At this same time, the sovereign deterrence to keep USSR from invading the rest of Europe was the fact that the U.S. had a nuclear weapon, and they (USSR) did not. The people “in-the-know” understood that there was a very remote chance of this occurring, but President Truman had stirred up such a scare, that it went through anyway. What this really did was ally Western Europe with the United States and military level. Same purpose as the Marshall plan just militarily instead of economically making ties to the U.S. Government. The treaty ended up never being invoked throughout the duration of the Cold War.
The events closely following the end of World War II until 1950 changed America’s agenda substantially as shown in the secret document known as “NSC-68”, a paper written by the National Security Council. America mobilized at an astounding rate. They saw world as vulnerable, and took advantage of this: “It (the world) has seen the collapse of five empires—the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian, and Japanese—and the drastic decline of two major imperial systems, the British and the French.” (Major Problems, NSC-68 pg. 205) This all occurred within a single life span of the average human. In one generation a power vacuum occurred, and the U.S. was fully aware of the opportunity at hand. They saw the mistakes of the past imperial powers and the past empires and took careful steps to contain the void of power. The U.S. needed to evolve into something more. Though it wasn’t completely isolationist previously, they abandoned it completely. America knew it had to make roots in as many parts of the world as possible in order to propagate and subsist for as long as possible.
The second half of the U.S. agenda is one of “containment” which is also mentioned in this document. They were willing to do just about everything and anything just below the brink of war to stop the USSR from expanding in anyway. Whether it was territorially, politically or even economically, they U.S. sought out the put their foot in the doorway of any Kremlin objectives. All the steps up until this point—President Truman’s speech that became doctrine, Secretary of State George Marshall and now this document—was built to create this military industrial complex. This machine, this system, was fueled by: propaganda coated on to the American people like stopping communism because it prevents peace, justice and prosperity, the potential for economical and political power to grow exponentially, and the shear momentum of the past five years the successes they wrought. Not to mention the obvious, but the simple fear of the idea of a third world war doesn’t hurt either to push for this kind of agenda.
When do they stop? With such vague and arbitrary objectives like creating a “free” world, this leaves too much room to do as the U.S. pleases. If they are going to give aid to some, and they are going to interfere with others, who is to say not all? There is too much being done at once. My general judgment of these first five years following the end of World War II is that we made an insane amount of progress in such a short time. I concur that the USSR was growing too vast across Europe, and would become a lone superpower if left alone. I can see why the United States and several other countries of the West sought to stop it. What they did was necessary, but who is watching the West? Who is keeping the United State in check? Such great power naturally comes with a large amount of responsibility and accountability. I don’t think the U.S. should be this big. It is as if they gave themselves the promotion to become “Global Police”. But there badged is that of a crooked cop, because they only help in places where they seek out resources beneficial to themselves. This is where fault is to be found in the United State’s foreign policy during this period of time.
~ Musa Ghaznavi (February 2012)