Origins of containment :revolution in United States foreign policy, 1945-1947



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Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to undertake an investigation of the events leading up to and culminating with the Truman Doctrine, and to determine, if possible, pertinent facts relating to the revelation in United States foreign policy which was initiated by the Truman Doctrine. Methods: The methods used to obtain material for this study were: (1) examination of the diaries and memoirs; (2) examination of the Congressional Record; and (3) examination of the various secondary sources such as books, newspapers, and periodicals. Findings: The evidence presented in this study suggests the following conclusions: 1. Traditional American isolationism did not prepare the United States for world leadership. American isolationism had a record of success largely because of world conditions during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, not because of any inherent qualities of isolationism itself. 2. The Western democracies did not fully comprehend the objectives of their war-time ally, the Soviet Union. 3. During the months following World War II, a few far0sighted individuals attempt to awaken the American people to the Soviet threat. Communist aggression in Iran, Greece, and Turkey made their task less difficult. 4. The British decision to terminate assistance to Greece and Turkey—stemming from Britain’s post-war economic plight—forced the United States to assume world leadership or return to the traditional isolationism. 5. President Truman was confronted by a hostile Congress at a time when he wished to bold support for the coming election. He disregarded these personal considerations, however, and boldly proposed that the United States abandon isolationism and take steps to combat Soviet aggression. 6. Congress, led by Arthur M. Vadenberg, a former isolationist, enacted legislation that extended the requested aid to Greece and Turkey. Those countries subsequently remained free. 7. The Truman Doctrine, as the President’s plan came to the called, was the first application of the containment policy. It represented a template break with the past. The United States was beginning to assume world leadership, with all its burdens and responsibilities.



Truman Doctrine, US Foreign Policy, isolationism, world leadership