Cold War (1945–91)

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Truman Doctrine

Compare and contrast the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.

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There were similarities and differences between the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Both of these plans were designed to help countries that were fighting the spread of communism. While the Truman Doctrine offered aid to all nations fighting the spread of communism, it essentially was used to provide economic and military aid to Greece and to Turkey to keep those countries from becoming communist. We were very concerned the Soviet Union was actively trying to spread communism to those two countries. $400 million was provided to help these countries in their fight against communism.

A few months after the Truman Doctrine was announced, the European Recovery Program, also called the Marshall Plan, was unveiled. This plan also offered aid to any country fighting the spread of communism. This plan provided aid to 16 countries in order to strengthen their economies and to reduce the likelihood that these countries would become communist. Billions of dollars were spent to bolster the economies of these countries. These countries benefited significantly from the Marshall Plan.

While both plans were designed to stop the spread of communism, the Marshall Plan was far more encompassing and impacted far more countries than the Truman Doctrine did. Both were effective in accomplishing their goals.

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Both the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan aimed at curbing the spread of communism and they both succeeded. They were both part of the Unites States foreign policy of containment. In both, Congress approved a significant amount of financial support towards the fight against communism by approving 400 million dollars for the Truman Doctrine’s proposal in Turkey and Greece and 13 million dollars for the Marshall Plan’s proposal for Europe. In addition to that, both highlighted that the dilapidated economy rendered the nations vulnerable to communism and thus economic resuscitation was key in the fight against communism.

The major difference between the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall plan is that the former was specifically responding to the plights of Greece and Turkey who were at the time facing an imminent communist threat. Even though the aid by the Truman Doctrine was used for economic and humanitarian relief, the bulk of the aid was used in military supplies and weapons. The Marshall Plan on the other hand, aimed at restoring the economy of Europe in entirety and was open to all European nations as long as they adhered to the terms. The bulk of this aid was directed to economic related activities as opposed to military based activities.

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The main point of comparison between these two is that they were both meant to prevent communism from spreading.  The Marshall Plan meant to do so by improving the economies of countries in Europe while the Truman Doctrine contemplated both military and economic aid.

The major difference is that the Truman Doctrine was limited to countries that were already under attack from communism.  By contrast, the Marshall Plan was more proactive and preemptive.  It was meant to ensure the countries' economies remained strong enough that communist insurgencies could not take hold.  The Truman Doctrine was meant to combat insurgencies that already existed.

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