Purpose of Truman's Address to the Congress

Published: 2021-06-23
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George Washington University
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Did Truman Exaggerate the Soviet Threat in an Attempt to defeat Rising Communism at home in America or to Expand American Interests?


Truman's address to the Congress, what came to be known as his doctrine was a response to a foreseen crisis about economic power, foreign and social policies that were to control the general well-being of the people. The position and beliefs of the American people led by Truman and his chief advisers acted contrary to what the Soviet community stood for. The clashes in ideologies and principles governing the two societies resulted in rivalry rooted from the conflict of interest. In the historical era, nations used to take advantages of the weak neighbors to expand their boundaries, become powerful and increase their influence in most countries of the world. While in the struggle to earn territories, they were growing their cultures and being able to rule a given section of the society like the Soviet Union that aimed to spread communism in response to the earlier inequalities experienced in their nation (Garry & Clifford, 2007).

Truman, because of his position in the states, convincing power and the internal drive of the supremacy of his nation had to find ways of stopping the victory of the Soviet Union so as to retain world domination and to promote capitalism (Aslund & Djankor, 2014). This paper therefore critically analyses while affirming the position held by Truman in an attempt to defeat the spread of communism while putting into consideration the interests of expanding American domination, influence, and interest. In achieving this objective, it focuses on the pros and cons of the different scholars, philosophers and political analysts about the matter in question. This paper argues that; Truman did not only fight the Soviet in the defeat of the spread of communism but also focused on the interests of the United States as well.

Capitalism in the United States and the Soviet communism

The historical backgrounds of the Soviet Society and the United States are different and complicated in reaction to the economic and philosophical mindset of the leaders hence the basis for the clashes (Schumpeter, 2013). The United States in the description is a nation based on capitalist economic system focused on free enterprises. They are against the eviction of money as a motivator making people to work efficiently and earn on the basis of their efforts. A concern that promotes the social classes in the community though in a very fair way. Furthermore, the United States through Truman believed in the leadership where the government does not frequently involve itself in the people's affairs but protects what is right for the well-being of the community. Rights and freedom in totality were to be preserved to the end.

Conversely, the Soviet society embraced the aspect of communism; this was in response to the earlier historical Russia events where the means of production were mainly controlled by a few. The initially existing inequalities in Russia ensured that the tiny cream of the nation owned the entire assets while the vast majority made the lower class, a group that was mainly characterized by poverty and servitude (Schumpeter, 2013). To eradicate this incidence, the true leaders of the land urged the majority to rise and fight against the rich so as to create a similar environment where social stratification would not exist, the rich or the poor would not be identified, but their impact to the community through their abilities will be determined. The notion by the Communist-held that all the resources would be owned communally for the benefit of the entire Soviet Union.

The fundamental basis of the threat was due to the differing positions. Before Truman's doctrine intervention, the Soviet Union continually took over many nations in the Eastern Europe expanding its territory and cultural dominion. Countries like Greece were under the protection of the British government which resisted the invasion of the Soviet community. The "salami tactics" employed by the Soviet was against the initially made agreement at the Yalta conference based on Truman's position. In February of the year 1947, the British government which initially placed its soldier in defend of the Greek nation withdrew its soldiers as it could not support them anymore. It is an act that triggered Truman, hence his move to the Congress to come up with the policies that followed his doctrine (McCoullough, 2003).

The fear of Truman and the surrounding advisers was the fear that having known the drive among the communist rebels, their tactics and aggression in achieving their objective, it was only going to take a matter of time before they take over another nation. This act was going to make them stronger than before hence chances of influencing even the Western Nations, threatening the stability of the United States by extension. To reduce the rising supremacy, Truman's Doctrine was brought on board to provide a stumbling block to the operations of the Soviet Union thereby destabilizing their actions rendering them weaker (Truman, 1965). The primary objective of Truman was to change the foreign policy and assist nations like Greece and Turkey from falling into the traps of the communist.

About the government systems of operations, various scholars have argued differently regarding the two systems of governance. In focus to the systems of governance, the system employed by the states seems to be that focused on the few hence encouraging the gap between the rich and the low-income earners. The poor people in the Unites States are portrayed as if they are not cared about by the government. An implication that only the leaders and the few surrounding them are the ones benefitting out of the nation's resources. In comparison to the communist that focuses on the majority of the people, Scholar argues that despite the communist system being better at face value, it has significant drawbacks to the nation's development as it removes money from the system as the major motivating factor (Truman & Ferrell, 1998). The implication of this is the fact that, people will have nothing to act as incentives, urge them to streamline their efforts in attaining excellence as far as performance in the line of duty is concerned. Furthermore, since all the Soviet society believed in communist way of ruling, there were no opportunities for other political parties having differing ideologies to emerge in and spread their beliefs to the people. The government within the Soviet community was moving in the direction of dictatorship at some point as all the properties belonged to the government hence only the president in charge could oversee and give the verdict concerning any assets of the land. This was a threat to many nations around as the position of the communist would seem sweeter but with the hidden bitterness that was only to be identified later in the days.

In reality, Truman had reasons to fear and react to the rising of communist for the following positions;

To begin with, the majority of the people in any capitalist economy are always the poor people. In most cases, the poor will always fight against the rich in many ways. The position identified by the Soviet society was to favor the poor as far as resource allocation and distribution is concerned. For this reason, the spread of Communism on the European continent would have resulted in the increased demand among the American citizens to embrace a similar kind of system. The dream of the Earlier Soviet leaders was an ideal situation for their people to be free from oppression and denial of their right. In reality, they failed to broaden their depth of vision in assessing the different perspectives and implications that the position was going to hold to the people of those nations, about democracy and well-being of the inhabitants. At this point, the position held by Truman was mainly safeguarding the interest of the America to evade challenges that were to emanate from the imported ideologies by the leaders of the Congress causing divisions in the processes of enacting, implementing and reinforcement of the policies. In achieving the interest of his nation, he was also preventing his capitalist society from developing increased number of individuals with the communist perceptions. All that he was fighting for was to avoid communism from spreading to the western world and make the Soviet society stronger than can be imagined.

Secondly, as a matter of fact, when nations are engaging in the fight for territories, a large number of the population frequently perishes as the other flees in search of peace in other countries. Based on the American foreign policy that existed by the time, it allowed the immigration of the people into their continent. This act itself was enough threat to the American Society. Truman through his advisers acknowledged the fact that, when migration occurs, the immigrants not only come for safety but in the process interact with the local community influencing their culture positively or negatively. The fear of immigration was the fact that out of the interaction, differing ideologies of the European communities could be brought to the American continent creating a niche or a small locality in the continent that holds different ideologies pertaining governance (Tormey, 2012). It is usually the beginning of the change in perception of the people. During that time, the Americans economy was not that robust and competent as it is today and the gap between the poor and the rich was very broad. Because the leaders were visionary and could approach issues from different perspectives, the chief advisers had to intervene and find ways of preventing the spread of communism in the world before it goes out of hand. The first sure option was to create a protectorate among the nations that were not conquered, finance them economically, socially and fund all the areas of weakness so as to strengthen them against the communist rebels. Through this achievement, the American people were not going to understand the objectives and visions of the communist people hence were never going to question and conduct a comparative analysis about their system.

Thirdly, according to Dean Acheson explanation to Truman, a few weeks before the Truman's doctrine, the secretary asserted that, if the America, happens to allow just a single more nation to fall into the hands of communists, all the surrounding nations will be influenced rapidly and made to follow like a stretch of dominoes (domino theory). The expansion of the territory to take over other countries was going to make it hard stop the spread as the Soviet society was becoming unstoppable (Petterson, 1996). In the interest of the United States, it had to expand its influence to those nations so as to dominate before the Soviet administration takes over. The similar demand of influence expansion is what made the United States intervene in the case of Vietnam and Korea. A similar notion was outlined in the American Encyclopedia by Houghton Mifflin. The author asserted that Truman's doctrine played a bigger role in expanding the American responsibility of expanding its influence and reduction in the domination of Communism. According to Mifflin, it is very clear that American interest of gaining dominance under the influence was also part of Truman's speech. It is not that he only wanted to help the nations under threat but also had his gains in mind. Ideally, despite the fact that United States differed in ideologies with the Soviet, it was not about the political background only, interests and influence of the country to the rest of the world nations were also put into consideration.

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