HARRY S. TRUMAN INTRODUCING THE
TRUMAN DOCTRINE - 1947
The Truman Doctrine
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Harry S. Truman.
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the Truman Doctrine.
It follows the full text transcript of
Harry Truman's Doctrine, delivered before a
joint session of Congress in Washington
D.C. - March 12, 1947.
Mr. President, Mr.
Speaker, Members of the Congress of the United
The gravity of the
situation which confronts the world today
necessitates my appearance before a joint
session of the Congress. The foreign policy and
the national security of this country are
One aspect of the present situation which I wish
to present to you at this time for your
consideration and decision concerns Greece and
Turkey. The United States has received from the
Greek government an urgent appeal for financial
and economic assistance. Preliminary reports
from the American economic mission now in Greece
and reports from the American ambassador in
Greece corroborate the statement of the Greek
government that assistance is imperative if
Greece is to survive as a free nation.
I do not believe that the American people and
the Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the
appeal of the Greek government.
Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient
natural resources has always forced the Greek
people to work hard to make both ends meet.
Since 1940, this industrious and peace-loving
country has suffered invasion, four years of
cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal
When forces of liberation entered Greece they
found that the retreating Germans had destroyed
virtually all the railways, roads, port
facilities, communications, and merchant marine.
More than a thousand villages had been burned.
Eighty-five percent of the children were
tubercular. Livestock, poultry, and draft
animals had almost disappeared. Inflation had
wiped out practically all savings. As a result
of these tragic conditions, a militant minority,
exploiting human want and misery, was able to
create political chaos which, until now, has
made economic recovery impossible.
Greece is today without funds to finance the
importation of those goods which are essential
to bare subsistence. Under these circumstances
the people of Greece cannot make progress in
solving their problems of reconstruction. Greece
is in desperate need of financial and economic
assistance to enable it to resume purchases of
food, clothing, fuel, and seeds. These are
indispensable for the subsistence of its people
and are obtainable only from abroad. Greece must
have help to import the goods necessary to
restore internal order and security so essential
for economic and political recovery.
The Greek government has also asked for the
assistance of experienced American
administrators, economists, and technicians to
insure that the financial and other aid given to
Greece shall be used effectively in creating a
stable and self-sustaining economy and in
improving its public administration.
The very existence of the Greek state is today
threatened by the terrorist activities of
several thousand armed men, led by Communists,
who defy the government's authority at a number
of points, particularly along the northern
boundaries. A commission appointed by the United
Nations Security Council is at present
investigating disturbed conditions in northern
Greece and alleged border violations along the
frontier between Greece, on the one hand, and
Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia, on the other.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is unable to
cope with the situation. The Greek Army is small
and poorly equipped. It needs supplies and
equipment if it is to restore the authority of
the government throughout Greek territory.
Greece must have assistance if it is to become a
self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.
The United States must supply this assistance.
We have already extended to Greece certain types
of relief and economic aid but these are
inadequate. There is no other country to which
democratic Greece can turn. No other nation is
willing and able to provide the necessary
support for a democratic Greek government.
The British government, which has been helping
Greece, can give no further financial or
economic aid after March 31. Great Britain finds
itself under the necessity of reducing or
liquidating its commitments in several parts of
the world, including Greece.
We have considered how the United Nations might
assist in this crisis. But the situation is an
urgent one requiring immediate action, and the
United Nations and its related organizations are
not in a position to extend help of the kind
that is required.
It is important to note that the Greek
government has asked for our aid in utilizing
effectively the financial and other assistance
we may give to Greece and in improving its
public administration. It is of the utmost
importance that we supervise the use of any
funds made available to Greece in such a manner
that each dollar spent will count toward making
Greece self-supporting and will help to build an
economy in which a healthy democracy can
No government is perfect. One of the chief
virtues of a democracy, however, is that its
defects are always visible and under democratic
processes can be pointed out and corrected. The
government of Greece is not perfect.
Nevertheless, it represents 85 percent of the
members of the Greek Parliament who were chosen
in an election last year. Foreign observers,
including 692 Americans, considered this
election to be a fair expression of the views of
the Greek people.
The Greek government has been operating in an
atmosphere of chaos and extremism. It has made
mistakes. The extension of aid by this country
does not mean that the United States condones
everything that the Greek government has done or
will do. We have condemned in the past, and we
condemn now, extremist measures of the right or
the left. We have in the past advised tolerance,
and we advise tolerance now.
Greece's neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our
attention. The future of Turkey as an
independent and economically sound state is
clearly no less important to the freedom-loving
peoples of the world than the future of Greece.
The circumstances in which Turkey finds itself
today are considerably different from those of
Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters
that have beset Greece. And during the war, the
United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey
with material aid. Nevertheless, Turkey now
needs our support.
Since the war, Turkey has sought financial
assistance from Great Britain and the United
States for the purpose of effecting that
modernization necessary for the maintenance of
its national integrity. That integrity is
essential to the preservation of order in the
The British government has informed us that,
owing to its own difficulties, it can no longer
extend financial or economic aid to Turkey. As
in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the
assistance it needs, the United States must
supply it. We are the only country able to
provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications
involved if the United States extends assistance
to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these
implications with you at this time.
One of the primary objectives of the foreign
policy of the United States is the creation of
conditions in which we and other nations will be
able to work out a way of life free from
coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the
war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won
over countries which sought to impose their will
and their way of life upon other nations.
To insure the peaceful development of nations,
free from coercion, the United States has taken
a leading part in establishing the United
Nations. The United Nations is designed to make
possible lasting freedom and independence for
all its members. We shall not realize our
objectives, however, unless we are willing to
help free peoples to maintain their free
institutions and their national integrity
against aggressive movements that seek to impose
upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more
than a frank recognition that totalitarian
regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or
indirect aggression, undermine the foundations
of international peace and hence the security of
the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the
world have recently had totalitarian regimes
forced upon them against their will. The
government of the United States has made
frequent protests against coercion and
intimidation, in violation of the Yalta
Agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I
must also state that in a number of other
countries there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly
every nation must choose between alternative
ways of life. The choice is too often not a free
One way of life is based upon the will of the
majority, and is distinguished by free
institutions, representative government, free
elections, guarantees of individual liberty,
freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from
political oppression. The second way of life is
based upon the will of a minority forcibly
imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror
and oppression, a controlled press and radio,
fixed elections, and the suppression of personal
I believe that it must be the policy of the
United States to support free peoples who are
resisting attempted subjugation by armed
minorities or by outside pressures. I believe
that we must assist free peoples to work out
their own destinies in their own way. I believe
that our help should be primarily through
economic and financial aid, which is essential
to economic stability and orderly political
The world is not static and the status quo is
not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the
status quo in violation of the Charter of the
United Nations by such methods as coercion or by
such subterfuges as political infiltration. In
helping free and independent nations to maintain
their freedom, the United States will be giving
effect to the principles of the Charter of the
It is necessary only to glance at a map to
realize that the survival and integrity of the
Greek nation are of grave importance in a much
wider situation. If Greece should fall under the
control of an armed minority, the effect upon
its neighbor, Turkey, would be immediate and
serious. Confusion and disorder might well
spread throughout the entire Middle East.
Moreover, the disappearance of Greece as an
independent state would have a profound effect
upon those countries in Europe whose peoples are
struggling against great difficulties to
maintain their freedoms and their independence
while they repair the damages of war.
It would be an unspeakable tragedy if these
countries, which have struggled so long against
overwhelming odds, should lose that victory for
which they sacrificed so much. Collapse of free
institutions and loss of independence would be
disastrous not only for them but for the world.
Discouragement and possibly failure would
quickly be the lot of neighboring peoples
striving to maintain their freedom and
Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this
fateful hour, the effect will be far-reaching to
the West as well as to the East. We must take
immediate and resolute action.
I therefore ask the Congress to provide
authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in
the amount of $400 million for the period ending
June 30, 1948. In requesting these funds, I have
taken into consideration the maximum amount of
relief assistance which would be furnished to
Greece out of the $350 million which I recently
requested that the Congress authorize for the
prevention of starvation and suffering in
countries devastated by the war.
In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to
authorize the detail of American civilian and
military personnel to Greece and Turkey, at the
request of those countries, to assist in the
tasks of reconstruction, and for the purpose of
supervising the use of such financial and
material assistance as may be furnished. I
recommend that authority also be provided for
the instruction and training of selected Greek
and Turkish personnel.
Finally, I ask that the Congress provide
authority which will permit the speediest and
most effective use, in terms of needed
commodities, supplies, and equipment, of such
funds as may be authorized.
If further funds, or further authority, should
be needed for purposes indicated in this
message, I shall not hesitate to bring the
situation before the Congress. On this subject
the executive and legislative branches of the
government must work together.
This is a serious course upon which we embark. I
would not recommend it except that the
alternative is much more serious.
The United States contributed $341 billion
toward winning World War II. This is an
investment in world freedom and world peace. The
assistance that I am recommending for Greece and
Turkey amounts to little more than one-tenth of
1 percent of this investment. It is only common
sense that we should safeguard this investment
and make sure that it was not in vain.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured
by misery and want. They spread and grow in the
evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach
their full growth when the hope of a people for
a better life has died. We must keep that hope
The free peoples of the world look to us for
support in maintaining their freedoms. If we
falter in our leadership, we may endanger the
peace of the world -- and we shall surely
endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us
by the swift movement of events. I am confident
that the Congress will face these