The Truman Doctrine refers to an address given by then United States (US) President Harry S. Truman to the members of the joint Congress on 12 March 1947. This address outlined the general stance that the US would maintain throughout much of the Cold War regarding relations with the Soviet Union and the power struggles throughout Europe and Asia. Through the Truman Doctrine, the US established a stance regarding foreign powers in which aid would be given to other countries both financially and militarily to oppose the spread of communism and Soviet power.
Much of the foreign policy of America following the establishment of the Truman Doctrine adhered to the principals laid out in the speech, despite the fact that the address was intended to refer to a specific incident. At the time that President Truman gave the speech, Greece and Turkey were both potentially at risk to fall to greater communist influence or direct Soviet control. The Truman Doctrine was established to give aid to both countries, to help them fight off foreign influence, despite the fact that it would be just another form of foreign influence. Though others had voiced concerns over the increasing influence of the Soviet Union throughout Europe, the Truman Doctrine established those concerns and America’s stance on them at a presidential level.
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The structure of the Truman Doctrine relies on the assumption that American ideas regarding freedom and democracy are superior to or preferential over communist philosophies and increases in Soviet power. Though the Truman Doctrine primarily focused on Greece and Turkey, this type of perspective regarding America’s involvement in global politics led to a great deal of behavior and foreign policy that colored the view of other countries regarding America. Prior to the two World Wars, American expansionism was primarily kept to regions in close geographical proximity to the US.
Following the Second World War and the establishment of the Cold War, the US suddenly found itself the most powerful country in the world. Relatively untouched by the ravages of war that left much of Europe in ruin, the US continued to thrive and move forward without having to rebuild. While this brought numerous advantages, it also brought new pressures to have a global presence, and the relations with the Soviet Union regarding control over foreign regions was typically the greatest concern of political leaders in America at that time. The Truman Doctrine established the groundwork for a pattern of behavior typified by the US becoming involved across the world in any region in which the Soviet Union was either trying to gain power or retain control over a region.