AQA History essay President Truman's foreign policyWatch
Truman was a complete success in his foreign policy during his presidency’ Explain why you agree or disagree. This essay will examine President Truman’s foreign policy and whether he was successful in achieving his aims, which were the containment of communism, the security of us allies and keeping trading partners of the US strong. There were a number of events that argue for both the success and failure of Truman’s foreign policy, including: the Berlin Blockade, the establishment of communism in Japan and NATO. Both arguments hold strong and viable points, which need to be examined thoroughly.
The Berlin Blockade was a significant win for Truman, its overwhelming success made for excellent propaganda, made the US look powerful and defeated the communist forces in Berlin. In February 1945, at the Yalta conference, it was determined that Germany was to be divided into four sectors,British, French, US and Russian, and the same was to happen to Berlin, though it actually laid within Russia’s sector. In April 1948, America, Britain and France decided to join their respective sectors together and create a new currency to be used within Germany. This provoked utter chaos in Berlin, with every citizen attempting to get a hold of the new money, which in turn angered the Soviets who argued the Allies was enforcing their capitalist agenda onto Germany. The Soviet Unionthen retaliated with the Berlin Blockade on the 24th of June 1948.This incensed the Berlin Airlift from the US, dropping tonnes of supplies on to Berlin by air, as they could not reach the civilians on the land. Truman showed the world conflict could be resolved without the use of violence, as Stalin eventually called off the Blocked after almost a year in May 1949. Truman’s popularity soared as a result of the victory, his foreign policy of communist containment held, and he became known as the hero who saved Berlin from the“tyrannous” communist forces. Moreover, the Berlin Airlift was a clear complete success for Truman’s foreign policy, denying a communist takeover and enabling Berlin to become and eventual manufacturing stronghold in Germany. Furthermore,the airlift showed the commitment Truman had to the Truman Doctrine, and provided reassurance to the public that Truman was trying to prevent another catastrophe like world war two.
The Truman Doctrine was the speech made by president Truman to congress, asking for $400,000,000 to aid Greece and Turkey, countries who needed help to defeat a communist uprising. The Doctrine clearly supports Truman’s foreign policy, although the speech did not actually mention the containment of communism, and it is argued that the speech was, as an American university puts it “American challenge to soviet ambitions”. Given this, it can be assumed that the doctrine was not purely the work of foreign policy, but also a threat and warning to the Soviet Union. However, neither Greece nor Turkey became communist countries andtherefore the Truman Doctrine deserves merit in its ability to control communist spread and the domino theory. Truman retained capitalism in the majority of Europe due to the ‘blank cheque” the Doctrine provided, and so there is significant enough evidence to suggest the Doctrine enabled the success of Truman’s foreign policy of containment. There were critics of the Doctrine though, many Republicans said the ‘blank cheque’ made a cold war with Russia all the more inevitable indicating the Doctrine was a short term foreign policy, which did not hold up in the long term. Given this, the Doctrine only partially succeeded in Truman’s foreign policy and did not achieve complete success.
NATO, formed in March 1948 at the treaty of Brussels, was the North Atlantic Treaty organisation. Its primary function was creating allies in Europe in case of a war with the Soviets, which was looking more and more likely in the late 1940s. The organisation links directly with the berlin Blockade, as its policy prevented a Soviet attack on America, because the Soviets feared the alliances. NATO’s policies were primarily focused on ensuring the US had allies in case a war with the ‘Red Army’ was to ensue. NATO was successful in preventing an attack form the Soviets during the Berlin Blockade, suggesting its creation was justified and a well thought out foreign accomplishment for Truman. Moreover, it gave security to America’s allies inEurope because if a war were to occur, they would have automatic response.Furthermore, NATO was a complete success for Truman’s policy; it thrived in the areas it was set up for and created a far more stable post-war Europe, which in turn provided countries with a better position to trade with the US, an aim of Truman’s foreign policy. There were, however, failures of Truman’s foreign policy,for example, the establishment of communist China. Truman provided insufficient funding to the nationalists of China, who were fighting for democracy, which led to their ultimate defeat. The complete lack of financial and military aid eventually resulted in the nationalists fleeing and Mao Zedong establishing the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. This shows clearly that Truman’s aims of communist containment failed immensely as the world’s most populous country fell to communism. President Truman’s failure to support the nationalists suggests his foreign policy was not adequate and did not excel the aims he had outlined. Therefore, the takeover of communism in China suggests Truman’s foreign policy was not a complete success because communism was not contained and China became a threat to America and its allies
To conclude, the evidence provided suggests president Truman succeeded in his foreign policy to an extent. Although he at times made incorrect decisions, which were not exempt of condemnation, his overall success was not insignificant. Truman managed containment of communism in mostof Europe, and built up countries to make them strong trading partners to theUS. However, because Truman made some mistakes that failed his foreign policy,such as China’s communist takeover, I would suggest overall Truman was not a complete success in his foreign policy.