When the Cold War commenced, the United States and the Soviet Union occupied different spheres of influence. On one hand, there was the Western Bloc that encompassed the Americans and their allies that advocated democracy in all spheres of society, particularly the economy. On the opposition side, there was the communist Soviet Union and its supporters forming the Eastern bloc. As per the words of the then British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent” and involved countries were to choose a side (Sinews of Peace, 300). For that reason, more territories meant more economic powers through the spread of either imperialism or communism, either way a country could not support both ideologies. To protect democracy on American soil, new measures of freedom emerged, and the Truman Doctrine is the perfect illustration of the same. President Harry Truman’s goal was to prevent the spread of totalitarianism that was controlling not only the “civil societies” but also the charitable organizations and churches (Liberty 721). Hence, in his address to Congress, on March 12, 1947, Truman delivered his Doctrine, which was a detailed plan to contain the spread of communism and uphold liberty. Thus said, the Truman’s Doctrine was a method of repelling communism, and it warranted the development of superior weapons, which backfired and caused hysteria instead of reassurance for the people.
The outcomes of the Second World War directly correlated the causes of the Cold War. In addition, the Great War was the starting point from which the feuding countries of the Cold War based their differences and conflicts. With Germany being a common foe between the involved countries of both the First and Second World War, alliances were easier to make and maintain. Now, while the nations joined the Great War because of existing agreements and treaties, Germany’s defeat was the focus of the Second World War, and the Cold War was just an outcome of the same. After all, the fighting countries in the First World War joined the battlefronts in a kind of ripple effect. For instance, Great Britain entered the war to protect the neutrality of Berlin from the invading Germans. In contrast, the United States entered the war late to help end it and protect its merchant ships that were at that time sinking because of the Germans’ submarine warfare. That level of chaos did not exist in the Second World War because Germany was again a target and each of the opposing powers wanted its complete surrender. It is significant to note that, during the Great War, the Russians retreated before the United States joined the warfare. Consequently, neither side could monitor and evaluate the real strength of the other. However, the situation was different in the Second World War as the United States, and the Soviet Union came into one alliance against Hitler and his Nazi army. By the end of the War, the Americans and Soviets were aware of each other’s strengths, and none could stand against the other without risking severe damages. The Cold War era sufficed since instead of an actual battle, there were threats exchanged by the United States and the Soviet Union as they sought world dominance.
The Truman Doctrine focused on providing military and economic aid for the Greeks and Turkish citizens. According to Eric Foner, Truman’s presentation of the policy portrayed the “Communist insurgency in Greece” as a scheme by the Soviet Union to take over the free world (Voices, 213). Truman’s views were; “If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world and we shall surely endanger the welfare of this Nation” (Foner, Voices, 216). Now, Greece was a means to an end for Truman as he sought to sway Congress into accepting communism as a real danger. The man’s sole purpose was to acquire enough funds to develop weapons to strengthen the United States’ defenses against the Soviet Union. At the time of his speech, the Red Scare was minimal in the United States. However, any talk of “radicals, who could not support a foreign policy” was enough to warrant panic and the government’s support for the “revolution of conservatives and liberals” (Zinn 426). In the end, Truman acquired 400 million dollars for the military defenses of Greece and Turkey. In his critic, it is evident that Walter Lippmann realized Truman’s real goals as he went on to analyze the flaws in Truman’s actions. Apparently, the United States could not use military power to contain the expansive pressure of the Russians” because the Soviets targeted the “political and economic” spheres (Voices, 221). In the end, rather than secure its borders and engage the Russians in the arms race, it was evident that Lippmann supported the notions of the United States ensuring the freedom of autonomy for its people. Afterward, the concentration could turn to other countries.
As evidenced by the allocation of four hundred million dollars for Truman to execute his plans, the Congress naturally coincided with the man’s ideologies. By extension, Foner insists that Truman’s “commitment to victory over communism” and his insistence to upgrade the American military prowess plunged the country into chaos (Liberty 429). Foremost, Truman’s Doctrine accelerated the Cold War by showing the American societies as a new area of possible attacks by the Soviet Union. Additionally, until the civil rights movements and the introduction of women suffrage, social order, and racial discrimination epitomized the United States communities even as the Cold War continued. According to Foner, the white man’s society also practiced “blood segregation” during transfusions and beliefs that a “woman's place was in the home” were rampant (Liberty, 415). With that in mind, totalitarianism or communism defied social hierarchies and advocated the equal distribution of wealth among all persons within a given society. Consequently, the wealthy and middle-class American citizens feared for their properties and social classes on the ground level. At the same time, the whole populace feared the possibility of the Soviets using nuclear weaponry on them, a fact that severely hindered social cohesion in the country. The article “NSC68 and the Ideological Cold War” of 1950 provide details that prove the United States’ confusion after the Truman Doctrine speech. Apparently, the people initiated a “global crusade against communism” and “NSC68 and the Ideological Cold War” was a manifesto of the free society (Foner, Voices, 216). With the fears of the Soviets attacking, freedom became a significant concept among the Americans as they fought against external threats and realized those within their community. It is no wonder that the Civil Rights movements emerged while the Cold War continued, and women gathered courage to fight for enfranchisement. After all, “a free society does not fear” and “welcomes diversity” (Foner, Voices, 216).
Conclusively, it is plausible that Truman’s efforts did the opposite of his intentions. Given, the decision to endorse the Universal Declaration of Independence and even the ideologies of civil rights stemmed from the Truman Doctrine. However, its sole purpose was to restore the confidence of the American people, and if the Red Scare is anything to go by, then it failed in fulfilling that role. By extension, as a communist repellant strategy, the Truman Doctrine encouraged the development of superior weapons that thwarted the chances of a Soviet attack. It is no wonder that the United States remained stable even after the disbandment of the Soviet Union and the resulting end of the Cold War era.
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Foner, Eric. Give me Liberty. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
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