Was the Truman Doctrine a success or failure? Why?

Was the Truman Doctrine a success or a failure? Why?

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The Truman Doctrine (1947), which was named for President Harry S. Truman, was a key initial step in America's strategy for the Cold War (1947–1991) against the communist-run Soviet Union. That strategy was containment. The plan was to prevent communism from spreading to other countries, and it remained the linchpin...

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The Truman Doctrine (1947), which was named for President Harry S. Truman, was a key initial step in America's strategy for the Cold War (1947–1991) against the communist-run Soviet Union. That strategy was containment. The plan was to prevent communism from spreading to other countries, and it remained the linchpin of American strategy throughout the Cold War. The strategy had numerous successes and failures.

The Cold War had come about because of the growing distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union. After the end of World War II in 1945, they failed to work together. For example, the two nations could not agree on a plan for German unification.

The Truman Doctrine was initially applied to just two nations: Greece and Turkey. Greece fought a desperate civil war against Communist forces from 1946–49. The communists were defeated with American help. Turkey, which controlled access to the Mediterranean Sea from southern Russia, found itself under intense Soviet pressure after WWII. With American assistance, Turkey maintained its independence. Both Greece and Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.

After the success of American-led intervention in Greece and Turkey, the strategy behind the Truman Doctrine was proven to be flawed. The main problem was that the US tried too hard to stop communism from spreading and ignored nationalism and other important considerations in nations such as Vietnam and Cuba.

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The Truman Doctrine, originally formulated in response to the threat that communism would spread to Greece and Turkey in the wake of World War II, developed into a full-fledged geopolitical strategy by the end of the 1940s. Initially, the Truman Doctrine did not stipulate that the United States would use military force to resist communism, but rather that it would assist any peoples around the world who fought against it. In Greece and Turkey, the Truman Doctrine was effective, and the Marshall Plan, an more proactive expansion of the Doctrine, essentially established a barrier around the communist bloc in Eastern Europe. The United States chose a course of military containment in the Korean peninsula when the communist North invaded the US-backed South, and this was generally successful, driving the North (and China) back behind its original border along the 38th parallel, albeit at a tremendous cost. US involvement in Vietnam did not end as successfully, but the scale of military commitment was generally beyond what Truman had initially envisioned (even the Korean conflict was technically a UN action, and Truman took great pains to stop the conflict from spreading). So it is perhaps best to say that the policy of containment that arose from the Truman Doctrine had mixed and bloody results.

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The Truman Doctrine stated that the United States would provide political, military, or economic assistance to all democratic nations facing internal or external threats from authoritarian sources.  This was enacted as a direct result of Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe.  It was also a result of George Kennan's long telegram, in which he wrote that the Soviet Union could not be trusted.  The Truman Doctrine had its successes.  The United States successfully intervened in a Greek civil war in order to keep the nation from leaning towards communism, and American money given to conservative candidates proved to prevent leftists from taking over in Italy and France.  

However, the Truman Doctrine did have its problems.  American backing of pro-Western leadership in South Vietnam propped up a corrupt administration that was hated by the people who lived there.  Our support of the pro-Western leadership in Iran would eventually lead to its overthrow by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.  The Truman Doctrine would be quite expensive to operate since America took sole responsibility for keeping the world free from Communism.  American increases in military spending led the Soviet Union to do the same--Stalin was quite paranoid during this time since America used the atomic bomb in Japan in 1945 and did not tell him about its existence.  Also, some countries in the developing world used the United States in order to get increased aid in order to stop imagined communist threats.  

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The Truman Doctrine had some early successes. However ultimately it could not succeed in preventing the spread of communism everywhere. It also erupted into some less than successful campaigns. For example, the Vietnam War and the Korean War are not success stories.
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I tend to think, overall, the Truman Doctrine was a success.  The idea that the US would offer military assistance to nations facing a communist threat successfully upheld the policy of containment, and did so without direct US military involvement.  I would not consider the Korean or Vietnam Wars as pure Truman Doctrine, as future Presidents chose to pursue containment in a more aggressive manner, and Korea was a UN mandate.

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I would say that this was a little bit of each.  The Truman Doctrine was an early type of containment.  It said that the US would help any country that was fighting against being taken over by the communists.  Some countries did manage to avoid this, but others didn't.

The two main success stories, I suppose, were Greece and Turkey.  In both cases, they repelled communist insurgencies with some US help.  By contrast, you can argue that China represented a failure of this policy.  The US wanted Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist government to retain power, but Mao and the communists took China in 1949.

So there were some results both ways, which presumably means the policy was partly successful and partly a failure.

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