* And so on March 12, 1947, before a joint session of Congress, President Truman articulated, for the first time, a comprehensive American foreign policy for the postwar world.
* He did not mention the Soviet Union by name, or refer to the need to contain its power in Europe, though he did place American freedom against “totalitarian regimes.”
* Appealing to American universalist ideals, he declared that U.S. foreign policy henceforth must side with any nation facing aggression, anywhere in the world.
* WATCH IT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=-LMXGFhfbCs
* READ IT: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/harrystrumantrumandoctrine.html
* Why not the UN?
* Because the U.S.S.R. would intervene.
* But that’s the POINT of the UN.
* International co-operation.
* Here we are, a year and change after the creation of the UN, and the U.S. is already acting unilaterally in European affairs.
* His key phrases:
* 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.
* I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.
* I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
* What about the free peoples who are resisting armed MAJORITIES?
* What about the free peoples of Palestine?
* You’ll notice that in his speech, Truman never mentions the Soviets by name.
* But he hints at them.
* He mentions Yalta and “totalitarian regimes”.
* So the Soviets have officially gone from being Allied and friends to the boogieman.
* Please note that Truman in 1947 is referring to the U.S.S.R. as a “totalitarian regime”.
* When people point to the U.S.S.R. and say “look! Socialism doesn’t work!” I always point out that it wasn’t actually socialism or communism – it was totalitarianism.
* People seem to think that socialism has to be totalitarian.
* Which is, of course, nonsense.
* Australia has a form of socialism – “social democracy”.
* One of our two major political parties, the ALP, calls itself a democratic socialist party.
* So does Finland.
* So does Sweden.
* None of those countries have totalitarian governments.
* Socialism and democracy can go together.
* Just remember that.
* Back to Truman.
* His speech was really just a rehash of Churchill’s “We Will Fight Them On The Beaches” speech.
* Truman expanded on it.
* “We will fight them on the beaches… of other countries… even if they don’t want us to.”
* And how did the Soviets respond to his speech?
* Six days later, Nikolai Novikov, who had returned from Washington to Moscow to take part in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, discussed Truman’s speech with Molotov.
* He said The speech showed that the United States would support “reactionary regimes” in those countries where they existed, and would try to undermine the progressive regimes of Eastern Europe.
* Novikov writes in his memoirs That Molotov replied with an ironical smile
* Molotov said, “The President is trying to intimidate us,” “to turn us at a stroke into obedient little boys. But we don’t give a damn. At the meeting of the Council [of Foreign Ministers] we will firmly pursue our principled line.”
* Origins of Cold War; an International History, 2e (2005).pdf – page 73
* Now the implications of the Truman Doctrine were enormous.
* Until 1947, the U.S. had openly criticised countries that played power politics.
* Now it has committed itself to playing it on a global scale.
* But as a political tactic, it worked: Truman received the support he wanted from Republicans who wanted the U.S. to get tough with the Soviets.
* The bill to commit American funds to Greece and Turkey passed the Senate easily, by 67 votes to 23.
* When countries give “aid” to other countries, there is ALWAYS – ALWAYS – a quid pro quo.
* One quid pro quo here was hypothetical.
* Don’t give the Soviets a chance to increase their influence in these two countries.
* But according to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal – he was the first guy to ever hold that title by the way, Truman invented it – there was a direct link between foreign aid and the shortage in critical materials.
* For Forrestal, aid to Greece and Turkey under the Truman Doctrine was more than a simple effort to contain Communism; he labeled the doctrine “hard and selfish.”
* What did he mean?
* Well Seventy-three percent of America’s imports consisted of raw materials for the production of necessities for the United States, and 55 percent of these needed imports came from areas within the British Empire, mostly in Asia.
* Forrestal put it this way: “These raw materials have to come over the seas and a good many have to go through the Mediterranean. That is one reason why the Mediterranean must remain a free highway.”
* So the “aid” to Turkey and Greece was also an investment in keeping the shipping lanes open.
* Again, Forrestal told one skeptical friend that the materials problem “is the only thing that makes any impression on me at all,” and his listener observed that the “average fellow in this country” was not aware of the raw materials consideration. (Meeting the Communist Threat Truman to Reagan.pdf)
* Few Americans were aware either that the March 10 draft of the Truman Doctrine speech stated that Greece and Turkey were areas of “great natural resources which must be accessible to all nations and must not be under the exclusive control or domination of any single nation.”
* That section was later removed.
* But you get the idea.
* Truman officials in mid-1947 did not argue, however, that European aid was essential to head off an imminent recession.
* Rather, they stressed the long-range economic and political importance of such assistance in the familiar peace and prosperity idiom.
* In November 1947 the Council of Economic Advisers predicted an $8 billion decline in exports unless a new foreign aid program was initiated.
* Total exports in 1946 were only $14 billion. (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EXPGSA)
* So pulling $8 billion out of that would hurt.
* The Economic Advisers said losing $8 billion would not “inflict serious short-run damage on our economy, substantial problems of readjustment would be generated. Moreover, the industrial paralysis which could be expected to result in some other countries would have repercussions of major proportion upon our own economy and upon world stability.”
* So it might start a chain reaction.
* Truman was coming to the realization that if he wanted to obtain political advantage by talking and acting tough on the Cold War, he didn’t have to wait for the Soviets to give him a reason.
* Later in 1947, Clark Clifford and one of FDR’s old aides James Rowe wrote a long memo to the President that mapped out how to turn a potential future war against the Soviets into political GOLD.
* They predicted that relations with the USSR would be the key foreign policy issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.
* And it was pretty simple to predict that those relations would get worse during the course of 1948;
* and that this would strengthen Truman’s domestic political position.
* They wrote: “There is considerable political advantage in the administration in its battle with the Kremlin;’
* “The worse matters get … the more is there a sense of crisis. In times of crisis, the American citizen tends to back up his president.”
* So it’s pretty obvious what they are saying.
* If Truman can ramp up a fear about the Cold War in the U.S. – irrespective of what the Soviets are actually doing – it would help his domestic political situation.
* And the Red Scare was already starting to ramp up.
* In the 1946 midterm elections the Republicans had taken control of both houses for the first time since 1928.
* Many of those elected were more conservative and more anti-communist than the candidates they replaced; many resorted to Red-baiting in their campaigns.
* They made “anti-Communist” attacks upon Truman and the Democrats
* Republican National Chairman Carroll Reece talked about the “pink puppets in control of the federal bureaucracy”
* And of course, the Democrats didn’t want to get caught out sounding soft, so they upped their anti-Soviet rhetoric to match the Republicans.
* But this is before the Soviets have even done anything!
* Anyone who suggested diplomacy was accused of appeasement.
* And then Truman went after his own people.
* Two weeks after his Truman Doctrine speech, he established the Federal Employee Loyalty Program, which gave government security officials authorization to screen three million employees of the federal government for any hint of political deviance.
* Executive Order 9835
* The order specified that one criterion to be used in determining that “reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal” would be a finding of “membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association” with any organization determined by the attorney general to be “totalitarian, Fascist, Communist or subversive” or advocating or approving the forceful denial of constitutional rights to other persons or seeking “to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means.”
* Hundreds of federal employees were fired.
* Thousands quit in disgust.
* A few weeks later, Truman set up AGLOSO – the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations.
* This is two years before McCarthy starts his whole thing.
* AGLOSO, which was massively publicized in the media, became what amounted to “an official black list.”
* But they released little or no information about key aspects of the list, including how it was compiled, what criteria were used to list groups, why the decision was made to publish the list, and why listed organizations were not provided with any notice, charges, or hearings before they were designated.
* This first AGLOSO was compiled in secret, and the listed organizations were not informed or given any opportunity to challenge the listings.
* Imagine if Trump came out with something similar today.
* The Democrats would lose their fucking minds.
* But in 1947, it was a Democratic administration that put this together.
* Thousands of Americans with progressive or radical political beliefs signed petitions for, or became members of, these groups without being aware of the Communist ties of the group.
* Many were later persecuted and suffered personal consequences during the McCarthy era.
* And even if they HAD known about the communist ties – so what?
* The Soviets were their allies until yesterday.
* Supposedly American is the land of freedom.
* Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought. Freedom of expression.
* Yet here is a Democratic administration saying that you’re not allowed to belong to this group or that group.
* Because they have different ideas.
* Have the Soviets attacked America?
* Have they said they were going to attack America?
* Okay – they had spied on America.
* And I can understand you don’t want spies in your ranks of Federal employees.
* And not all of the organisations had Communist ties.
* The KKK were on the list and they HATED the Communists.
* But for the moment, being in one of these groups didn’t automatically mean you were going to be in trouble.
* It just meant you were going to be investigated.
* However In his 1991 memoir, Clark Clifford said that his “greatest regret” from his decades-long government service was his failure to “make more of an effort to kill the loyalty program at its inception, in 1946–47.”
* He said that neither he nor Truman viewed Communist infiltration of the federal government as a serious problem.
* He said the 1946 elections “weakened” Truman but “emboldened [FBI Director] Hoover and his allies.”
* Rather than combating the irrationality of the charges of softness on communism and subversion, the Truman Administration, sure that it was the lesser of two evils, moved to expropriate the issue, as in a more subtle way it was already doing in foreign affairs.
* So the issue was legitimized; rather than being the property of the far right, which the centrist Republicans tolerated for obvious political benefits, it had even been picked up by the incumbent Democratic party.
* It looks like, from an American perspective, the idea of using diplomacy with the Soviets had gone out the window.
* And not everyone was happy about that.
* Henry Wallace used it as the main platform for his 1948 run at the White House.
* The right-leaning influential journalist and one of the fathers of modern propaganda, Walter Lippmann, wrote that Moscow officials had genuine security fears, and were motivated primarily by a defensive concern to prevent the revival of German power-hence their determination to assert effective control over eastern Europe.
* It distressed him that the administration seemed blind to this reality, and to the possibility of negotiating with the Kremlin over issues of mutual concern.
* And then around this time, George Kennan published his famous X Article.
* But that’s for next week.
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