Harry S Truman on Foreign Policy



Truman Doctrine established worldwide containment of USSR

The Truman Doctrine was a key part of the Cold War, both in how this conflict of posturing and puppets began, and how it developed over the years. The doctrine was policy to "support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," and announced on March 12th 1947 by President Truman, making the doctrine US government policy for decades.

The doctrine was dreamed up in response to [seeing] no realistic way to free Eastern Europe from Soviet domination, Truman and the US wanted to stop any further countries falling within the USSR's control, and the president's speech promised monetary aid and military advisors to Greece and Turkey to stop them buckling. However, the doctrine was but expanded worldwide as part of the Cold War to cover assistance to all nations threatened by communism and the Soviet Union.

A major part of the doctrine was the policy of containment, involving the US with western Europe, Korea and Vietnam

Source: EuropeanHistory.About.com on the Truman Doctrine , May 27, 2016

China is fundamentally anti-foreign; keep that away from us

Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p. 43 & 48 , Oct 12, 1999

House Un-American Activities Committee was un-American

"You cannot stop the spread of an idea by passing a law against it. You cannot stamp out communism by driving it underground. You can prevent communism by more and better democracy."

"There were no communists in the State Department. That was a bunch of hooey and it never was proved. McCarthy started out with 105, and then got down to 80, then down to 30, then down to 12, and then didn't find any."

"I think the House Un-American Activities Committee was the most un-American thing in America."

"There is no more fundamental axiom of American freedom than the familiar statement: In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions th

Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p. 25 , Oct 12, 1999

We have to get along with rest of world, or get overwhelmed

"Americans are funny birds. They are always sticking their noses into somebody's business which isn't any of theirs. We send missionaries and political propagandists to China, Turkey, India, and everywhere to tell those people how to live. Most of 'em know as much or more than we do."

"We in America always think of China as a nation. But the truth is that in 1945 China was only a geographical expression."

"All sorts of people make up this world, and there are about 3 billion people in the world, and only about 900 million that are white. You have to get along with the rest of them or you will be overwhelmed."

Source: The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes, p. 43 , Oct 12, 1999

1949 Point Four Program: focus on under-developed world

BROWN: You state that development discourse started in 1949. Can you really identify it as a speech by Harry Truman, in that particular year?

GUEST: It was the 20th of January, 1949, in President Harry Truman's inaugural speech. Then, after the inaugural speech, he sketched out his so-called Point Four Program. In that program, which was directed towards what later became known as the Third World, Truman, for the 1st time in history, called half of the world an underdeveloped area. So there it was, the word underdeveloped, a word that has become so natural to us. So the development era for us began with Truman. He was the 1st one, at least from a prominent political stage, who looked at the planet and saw a few nations--the US and some other Western countries--running along a common race track and running way ahead, with many other nations lagging far behind. The big imperative then is to catch up. The image was there before Truman; colonialism had these kinds of notions.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p.261-2 , Apr 24, 1997

Create moral & legal framework to avoid evil & war

We are now, in this year of 1950, nearing the midpoint of the 20th century. The first half of this century will be known as the most turbulent and eventful period in recorded history. The swift pace of events promises to make the next 50 years decisive in the history of man on this planet.

The scientific and industrial revolution which began two centuries ago has, in the last 50 years, caught up the peoples of the globe in a common destiny. Two world shattering wars have proved that no corner of the earth can be isolated from the affairs of mankind.

The human race has reached a turning point. Man has opened the secrets of nature and mastered new powers. If he uses them wisely, he can reach new heights of civilization. If he uses them foolishly, they may destroy him.

Man must create the moral and legal framework for the world which will insure that his new powers are used for good and not for evil. In shaping the outcome, the people of the United States will play a leading role.

Source: Pres. Truman's 1950 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 4, 1950

With tremendous strength comes tremendous responsibilities

Among all the great changes that have occurred in the last 50 years, none is more important than the change in the position of the United States in world affairs. Fifty years ago we were a country devoted largely to our own internal affairs.

Our tremendous strength has brought with it tremendous responsibilities. We have moved from the outer edge to the center of world affairs. Other nations look to us for a wise exercise of our economic and military strength, and for vigorous support of the ideals of representative government and a free society. We will not fail them.

Our objective in the world is peace. Our country has joined with others in the task of achieving peace. We know now that this is not an easy task, or a short one. But we are determined to see it through. We are prepared to devote our energy and our resources to this task, because we know that our own security and the future of mankind are at stake.

Source: Pres. Truman's 1950 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 4, 1950

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Other past presidents on Foreign Policy: Harry S Truman on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022