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Monday, March 12, 2007

On This Day In History

On this day, 60 years ago, President Truman addressed a joint session of Congress and enunciated what would later be referred to as the “Truman Doctrine.” From the New York Times article that day:

Washington, March 12 - President Truman outlined a new foreign policy for the United States today. In a historic message to Congress, he proposed that this country intervene wherever necessary throughout the world to prevent the subjection of free peoples to Communist-inspired totalitarian regimes at the expense of their national integrity and importance.

In a request for $400,000,000 to bolster the hard-pressed Greek and Turkish governments against Communist pressure, the President said the constant coercion and intimidation of free peoples by political infiltration amid poverty and strife undermined the foundations of world peace and threatened the security of the United States.

…As the Senate and House of Representatives sat grim-faced but apparently determined on the course recommended by the Chief Executive, Mr. Truman made these cardinal points of departure from traditional American foreign policy:

"I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.1

…President Truman said he was fully aware of the "broad implications involved" if the United States went to the assistance of Greece and Turkey. He said that, while our aid to free peoples striving to maintain their independence would be primarily financial and economic, he reminded Congress that the fundamental issues involved were no different from those for which we fought a war with Germany and Japan.

…Anticipating criticism, not long in developing, that his proposals to lend $250,000,000 to Greece and $150,000,000 to Turkey would "by-pass the United Nations," Mr. Truman explained that, while the possibility of United Nations aid had been considered, the urgency and immediacy were such that the United Nations was not in a position to assist effectively.

The President made it clear that the responsibilities he asked Congress to face squarely had developed suddenly because of the inability of Great Britain to extend help to either the Greek or Turkish Government after March 31.

…Although there was a note of apology for the present Greek Government, which the President conceded had made mistakes, it was described as a freely elected one.

The Greek government, he said, represents 85 per cent of the members of the Greek Parliament. He recalled that 692 American observers had been present in Greece when the Parliament was elected and had certified that the election represented a fair expression of the views of the Greek people.

A President, acting unilaterally and by-passing the United Nations to support an imperfect, but freely elected government to prevent it from falling into the hands of forces he refers to (without the slightest bit of irony) as “totalitarian” and compares the issues at hand with those at contest in WWII?

No wonder he left office with a 22% approval rating.

P.S. One has to love the NYT Headline:

Truman Acts to Save Nations From Red Rule

Kinda makes it seem silly that we live in an age where the NYT can't even bring itself to use the word "terrorist."


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