US role in Europe at the beginning of the Cold war
a) Outline what is meant by « the Truman doctrine ». Support your response with evidence from document A.
Harry Truman, an anti-communist American President introduced the Truman doctrine after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mandate. The creation of this doctrine was linked to the “Long Telegram” sent by George Kennan (U.S ambassador to the U.S.S.R. in 1946) to Truman as the President came to believe that virtually all actions against US interests were linked to communism. Truman declared in his address to Congress on March 12th, 1947 (which corresponds to document 1): “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want”. He described Communism as “the will of minority forcibly imposed upon the majority” which “relies upon terror and oppression.” Moreover this doctrine could be considered as the beginning of the cold war as it was the start of new indirect conflicts.
The doctrine’s aim was to prevent the expansion of communism from the Soviet Union and bring help for those fighting for their freedom. The idea was as Clark Clifford (an American lawyer under President Truman) said in 1972: “we were concerned about preventing Soviet control of larger areas of the world than they already controlled.” The Truman doctrine also involved the policy of containment in which the USA would help any country threatened by Communism so that it could not be spread. Moreover, Americans believed that as soon as a one country became Communist, the neighbouring one would follow. It was called the Domino theory.
Truman wanted to defend freedom in U.S.S.R as he declared in the same speech “the free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms”. Therefore, the Truman Doctrine was intended to support democratic countries. Moreover Truman declared that the Cold War was a choice between freedom and oppression and that Americans had no choice but ‘to support free peoples’ and to abandon the decision of not getting involved in European affairs. The Truman Doctrine effectively reoriented U.S. foreign policy, away from its usual stance of withdrawal from regional conflicts not directly involving the United States, to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts.
The Truman Doctrine also committed the USA to play a big part in world affairs as President Truman established that the USA would provide political, military and economic assistance. Indeed, he believed that the United States’ help should be “primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes”. Truman felt that Communism could be resisted by economic aid to build up prosperity, which could help resist poverty, suffering, terror, and oppression. But the USA also had its own interest spreading its financial and economic influence worldwide. In fact, US businesses also wanted access to markets in Europe, South America, and Asia.
Through the Truman Doctrine, the United States offered assistance to preserve the political integrity of democratic nations when such an offer was deemed to be in its best interest.
b) Assess how far do documents A and B show the role of the US in Europe after WW2:
The US appears as the world leader at the end of World War II. It was clearly the richest and most powerful country in the world, as it had suffered no war damage from bombing or fighting at home. The war itself had put American industry to work: 86 000 tanks, 6 500 ships, as well as aeroplanes and guns had been built. Industrial production and farming had prospered too. As American presidents had to spend a great deal of their time on foreign policy it was clearly the end of their policy of isolationism and the beginning of interventionism. However, it became a new era of tensions. Indeed, it could be considered as the beginning of the cold war, which is a half century of conflict between the US, the USSR and their