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The Truman Doctrine And Nato

The Greek civil war of 1945-1947 is a series of struggles started during the Second World War. After General  Ioannis Metaxas dissolved the Greek Parliament in 1936 and put himself as a dictator, organized resistance in Greece was defeated and the country were put under the occupation of the Germans, Italian, and Bulgarians. However, the Greek and Yugoslav Communist parties succeeded in organizing extensive partisan resistance to challenge and placed military stress on occupational forces. In September of 1941, the Greek Communist Party formed a National Liberation Front (EAM) and with its armed wing (The Greek Liberation Army) recruited over 60,000 fighters by 1943 (GSO n.

d., 1).

When the Germans withdrew their occupation of Greece in 1944 after the successful allied invasion, the British took control of Athens and established an interim administration. Maintaining a good relation with a war ally (against Germany), Moscow persuaded the armed communist guerillas to operate under the British command.

A small-scale civil war began in December 3, 1944 (GSO n.d., 1); right after the British announced the disbanding of the armed communist guerilla and demanded the surrender of their weapons.

The resistance movement, unwilling to remove their weapons, went to wage war against the Greek Government and the British forces. The battle continues until the communist resistance movement accepted the Verzika Agreement to disarm and neutralize in February of 1945 thus reconciling the opposing blocs of Greece.

The defiance of the Verzika Agreement from both sides initiated the second chapter of the civil war 1946 that claims thousands of lives. With supports coming from communist countries like Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania, communist guerillas were on the move to overthrow the Greek government.

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However, the full-scale Civil war only erupted in 1947 between the KKE (Greek Communist Party) and the Right Wing Nationalist backed by the British.

Since then, the Greek government became dependent on Great Britain’s military and financial aid to stay in power. In March 31, 1947, faced by its own economic difficulties, Great Britain officially withdrew their financial support to Greece and Turkey (GSO n.d., 2). The United States perceived Soviet expansion and communist gain from this war, responded with a policy of containment, the famous Truman Doctrine.

The Truman Doctrine is a political response to aggression by the Soviet Union in the countries of Europe and the Middle East exemplified by its aggression in Greece. The Truman doctrine is popularly as a “containment” (Wikipedia, n.d., “Containment”, p1) policy of the United States against communism. Containment’s primary goal according to George Frost Kennan, an American political adviser and regarded as the “father of containment” is to prevent the spread of communism to non-communist countries (Wikipedia, n.d., “George Keenan”, p.1).

In simple words, “contain” or control communism within its borders. The Truman doctrine used “containment” as its main principle to block the proliferation of communism around the world. The essence of “containment” believed to be from the circumstances resembling a toppling domino, which by allowing one nation to fall to communism would endanger another democratic nation. Since then, containment became the dominant goal of the United States National Security policy.

The 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, proclaimed the Truman doctrine. It was in March 12, 1947 amid the crisis of the Greek Civil War in an address to the United States Congress, President Truman be affirmed that Greece and Turkey should get the aid they needed otherwise they will fall into the hands of the communist and consequently throughout the region (Ioannides, 1997, p1). In his speech before the congress, Truman said, “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”. He added, “We must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way and help should be primarily to economic and financial aid” (American Rhetoric, n.d., p.4).

After 10 days, on March 22, 1947, Harry Truman signed the act into a law and granted Greece and Turkey $400 million in military and economic aid. This is in a way a replacement for Great Britain’s aid and a continuation of the British “containment” and opposition campaign against communism in Greece. It should be noted that Great Britain withdrew their support due to own internal economic crisis. The doctrine is not limited to Turkey and Greece. Governments in Western Europe such as Italy and France are also receiving variety of assistance from the United States to keep communist group out government (TPML, n.d. p.1).

The Marshall Plan as an “economic containment” (Wikipedia, n.d, “Truman Doctrine”, p.1) and NATO as the “military containment” (Wikipedia, n.d., “Truman Doctrine, p.1) followed the Truman doctrine in the series of containment moves by the United States. The Marshall Plan’s objective is to rebuild the economy of Europe after World War II (Wikipedia, n.d., “Marshall Plan”, p.1).

The NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established in 1949 in support of the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed earlier in Washington D.C. on April 4, 1949.

The NATO’s founding members are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the United States. Four other countries that joined after the foundation or during the Cold War were Greece, Turkey, Germany (East and West), and Spain. Members of the Eastern bloc that joined after the Cold War in 1999 and later were Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The objective of NATO is to maintain the security and to assist member countries in the North Atlantic Region when an armed attack occurs. Although the treaty or the organization did not identify a specific the enemy, it was obviously intended for the USSR and its allies during that time.

In NATO’s history of unity, a crisis occurred early in 1958 when France’s President Charles de Gaulle protested the United States supremacy in the organization and the noticeable special relationship with the United Kingdom. Discontented with the response of the President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Macmillan to his memorandum, he started a Cold War and pursued an independent defense of France. He pulled out his forces from NATO and banned all foreign nuclear weapons in its soil. Later, in 1966, he removed all foreign members of NATO troops stationed in France. However, after many years, France rejoined NATO in 1993 (Wikipedia, n.d. “NATO”, p.1).

NATO based its decisions from the North Atlantic Treaty and is eventually managed by representatives of the 26 member states. A body of Permanent Representative or usually senior permanent members with expertise in civil service and diplomacy together with counterparts from the North Atlantic Council meets at least once a week. These members were given political authority and powers to make decisions for NATO. The Secretary General of NATO is the chairperson of the North Atlantic Council. When decision has to be made, resolutions are based on unity and common accord, no voting or decision of majority and each council representative are sovereign and responsible for their individual decisions.

Another essential member of the delegation is the Military representative, normally a senior officer of each countries armed forces. This body of representative is empowered to provide directions and advice on military matters and make necessary recommendations to the NATO’s Strategic Commanders for the common defense of the NATO members. The NATO Strategic Commanders are the one responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the alliance under the supreme authority of the North Atlantic Council. Like the diplomatic and military representatives, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is also composed of legislators from member countries.

NATO currently have Research and Technology Organizations such as Undersea Research Centers (NURC), Research and Technology Agency (RTA), and Consultation, Command and Control Organization (NC3A) (Wikipedia, n,d, “NATO”, p.1).

For the NATO’s continuing expansion, a Membership Action Plan was established during the Washington Summit of 1999. Members are required to submit annual progress reports regarding political and economic development, defense and military, resources, security, and legal issues. NATO on the other hand provides feedbacks and technical advice to each of the member countries.

NATO inherited its containment principles from the old Truman Doctrine and continued to strengthen its position in the North Atlantic Area. NATO that was originally created to counter the spread of communist military forces in the 50” is no longer limited to that objective. In practice, NATO this ended up entailing a gradual expansion to Eastern Europe, as well as the extension of its activities to areas not formerly concerning it. NATO on the record took military air strikes against the Serbs in February of 1994. Followed by a much wider campaign in Kosovo on March 24, 1999 when it bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Expanding NATO’s control and military activities is now the concern of the international community and the UN Council.


  1. American Rhetoric, n.d., “Harry Truman Speech on March 12, 1947”, American Rhetoric.Com, <online>, 05/09/06, www. Americanrhetoric . com / speeches/ harrystrumantrumandoctrine.html
  2. Wikipedia, n.d., “Containment”, <online>, 05/09/06, http://en.wikipedia.or / wiki / Containment
  3. GSO, n.d., “The Greek Civil War”, “Global Security Org, <online>, 05/09/06, http : / /www.
  4. Ioannides, C, 1997, “Commentary and Analysis”, Week in Review, <online>, 05/09/06,
  5. Kotora J, 1985, “The Greek Civil War”, War Since 1945 Seminar and Symposium, <online>, 05/10/06,
  6. Wikipedia, n.d., “George F. Keenan”, <online>, 05/09/06, http: / / en. Wikipedia . org / wiki/George_F._Kennan
  7. Wikipedia, n.d., “Harry S. Truman”, <online>, 05/09/06, http : / / e n . wikipedia. Org / wiki/Harry_S_Truman
  8. Wikipedia, n.d., “Marshall Plan”, <online> , 05/09/06, http: / / en. wikipedia. Org / wiki/ Marshall_Plan
  9. Wikipedia, n.d., “NATO”, <online>, 05/09/06,
  10. Wikepedia, n..d , “Truman Doctrine”,<online>, 05/09/06, http: / / en.wikipedia .org /wiki/Truman_Doctrine
  11. SW, n.d, “The Truman Doctrine”, Study World, <online>, 05/10/06, http:// / The_Truman_Doctrine.htm
  12. TPML, n.d. , “Harry S. Truman”, Truman Presidential Museum and Library, <online>, 05/09/06,

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The Truman Doctrine And Nato. (2017, Mar 02). Retrieved from

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