United States Foreign Aid Policy in the Beginning of the Cold War (1946-1950): Realistic or Idealistic?

United States Foreign Aid Policy in the Beginning of the Cold War (1946-1950): Realistic or Idealistic?

After the Second World War the balance of power in the world was more than obvious; half of the Europe was under the influence of USSR, the other part stayed true to the United States. It was very likely, that USSR will try to spread its influence into the rest of the Europe and the world. In order to stop the spread of communism, the United Sttates of America introduced a foreign policy to stop the spread of communism. The aim of that policy was to give a concrete material support to those countries, which already were the ally of the United States and those, which potentially could become their ally, because it was clear that communism was spreading into those countries, which had economical problems or were not the ally of the U.S.

Foreign economic aid policy (1946-1950)

National Security Council noted in April 14 1950 that “foreign ecconomic policy is a major instrument in the conduct of United States foreign relations. It is an instrument
which can powerfully influence the world environment in ways favorable to the security and welfare of this country”; “.it is an instrument pe

eculiarly appropriate to the cold war” (33).

The first apparent step to stop the spread of communism in the world was introducing, as Willard L. Thorp states, “European Recovery Program”(49), which was also known as Marshall Plan. Secretary of State George Marshall created the idea, that European countries would create the plan of how to rebuild their devastated cities and shocked economies. He gave this idea in his speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, which developed into the Economic Cooperation Act, which was accredited by the Congress in 1948 and signed by President Harry Truman in April 3 1948. “Over the next four years, Congress appropriated $13.3 billion for European recovery. This aid provided much needed capital and materials that enabled Europeans to rebuild the coontinent’s economy”(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/documents/docpages/document_page82.htm). The aid not only helped to rebuilt the economies of the Western Europe, but also to tighten economical relations between those countries and USA, because partnership between Western European and United States companies appeared and Western Europe became the great market for the United States goods as well as the market of the United States became a great market for the Western Europe countries goods.
Second, the United States created Point IV program, which was also known as “b
bold new program”, which was introduced by President Truman in 1949 and which appended to the import requirements for Europe declared in Marshall Plan and which introduced, as Thorp mentions, “technical assistance to the less-developed countries”

(50). This program helped to undeveloped areas, according to Thorp, “to develop their resources and improve their working and living conditions by encouraging the exchange of technical knowledge and skills and the flow of investment capital” (50). In other words, Point IV program in long term aspects helped to strengthen the economies of the free less developed countries and tighten the relations with the U.S.
Third, the United States gave funding aid to the Philippines, Japan and South Korea, loans and credits by the Export-Import Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank to Indonesia, Iran.
To conclude, U.S. foreign economic policy was more realistic than idealistic. According to Marshall Plan all European countries were able to get money, even those, which were under the influence of the USSR. And even though neither country from Eastern Europe used the aid (apparently because of the USSR authority in their countries), the very idea to help even the countries, which belonged to the USSR, showed that the United St
tated foreign policy was not only to stop the spread of communism, but to fight it. If Eastern Europe countries had gotten economical aid from the U.S., it was very likely that they would have started to get rid of USSR influence and to face the way of living of U.S. So it can be concluded that Marshall Plan at that point was a little bit idealistic, because despite the fact that a lot of countries from Eastern Europe wanted to get the aid (especially Czech, which had a lot of demonstrations against USSR policy not to allow countries to get the aid from the United States, which were crucially suppressed), it was impossible to help them; any relations with the United States the USSR saw as the great threat to its cause. To sum up, the U.S. foreign policy was
realistic, because it really stopped the spread of communism into the countries U.S. supported and communist never got significant power in neither Indonesia nor Japan, neither Philippines nor South Korea.

Military assistance policy

(Turkey, Greece, 1946-1950)

After the Second World War not only Western Europe democracies were in danger because of the USSR and communist wish to spread their influence, but Mi

iddle East as well. Even though Middle East did not suffer from the war as Europe, this region was still under the danger to get under communism ‘Iron Curtain’. First, Middle East did not have strong relations and support from the United States. Secondly, most of the Middle East countries were occupied by Nazis during the war and after the end of it they did not succeed in stabilizing their economies. Third, the region was separated by cultural and religious differences and in the result of that was unstable. Furthermore, their military abilities were very weak compared with the USSR. For instance, in 1946 March Soviet troops invaded Iran without any resistance. They nearly reached Tehran and were about to invade Turkey (soviets were already in Turkey near the cities Maku and Razi) when under pressure of United Nations were forced to turn back. Final, and perhaps the most important fact, which attracted USSR attention to the region, is that this region is geographically strategically situated (it is between three continents) and that is one of the

richest in oil reserves in the world (it has approximately 34 percent of the all oil of the world).
Turkey was the one, who played very important rule in the region. It was not only geographically well situated (the USSR had to go through it in order to get to Arabic countries), but also was perhaps the most democratic country in the region; in 1924 Turkey accepted the constitution, which mirrored the ideals and constitutions of Western countries, and which resulted in accepting Western, principals, laws, traditions. Moreover, Turkey had good and strong relations with the West countries, especially Britain. These Turkey properties and the facts, that its economy was crushed and its military power was weak, resulted in the appearance of the pressure and repeated tries to get influence over it from the USSR after the Second World War.
The United States realized the importance of the Turkey in the Middle East and the threat of the USSR to it. As McGhee informs, “on 23 August 1946 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported that they view Soviet actions in the Middle East as ‘a calculated Soviet policy of expanding Soviet de facto geographical political control’ and calculated that Turkey ‘was the most important factor in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East’” (17). Moreover conclusion, Turkey, according to McGhee, “had no hope of surviving without long-term aid from the Americans” (18). To conclude, “the security of the Middle East was vital to US security”
Turkey was not the only one country, which was threatened by the soviets. It was not the only country, which got the support of the United States either. In fact, Turkey got support together with Greece, when the Public Law 75 (better known as Greek-Turkish Aid Program), which was initiated by the President Truman, was approved by the Congress in 22 May 1947.
Greece was not a wealthy country. Moreover, as President Harris Truman declared in his speech to Congress in March 12, 1947, “lack of sufficient natural resources has always forced the Greek people to work hard to make both ends meet” (7). Furthermore, Greece all five years of the Second World War was invaded by Germans and that resulted in total destruction of the economy, law systems and order of the country, because when Germans were withdrawing from the Greece, as President Truman informed, they “destroyed virtually all the railways, roads, port facilities, communications, and merchant marine. More than a thousand villages had been burned. Eighty-five percent of the children were tubercular. Livestock, poultry, and draft animals had almost disappeared. Inflation had wiped out practically all savings” (8). Communists and military minorities by the support from the USSR used chaotic situation to try to get power in Greece after the end of war and would have got it if the United Stated had not interfered.
United Stated decided to give support to Greece and secure it from the invasion of communist as it helped to Turkey, because despite the fact that Greece was not so valuable to the United States as Turkey, it was very important in the Mediterranean region; Greece was both well geographical situated (it was at the board of Iron Curtain, which ended with the borders of Yugoslavia) and its government as well as the government of Turkey asked the help from the United States. To add, according to
President Truman “no other nation is [was] willing and able to provide the necessary support for a democratic Greek government” (17)
Greece and Turkey together received over 300 million dollars till the year of 1950. Turkey received over 100 million dollars for the modernization, reorganization and training programs of its armed forced. Greece received over 200 million dollars as the help to make improvements in public administration to fight the guerillas, who were fighting against democracy in Greece and were heavy supported by the communists from the neighbor Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria. But much more help was provided to Greece and Turkey independent of material assistance; more than 600 military missions by the United States were made to Greece from the year of 1948 till 1950 and more than 500 to Turkey (data is provided by McGhee). Indeed, the total number of US human resources given to Turkey was about 25, 000 people, including civilians, and thousands of administrators, technicians and economists to Greece.

The aid to Greece and Turkey demonstrated that United States main aim of foreign policy was to stop the spread of communism and get reliable alliances (the same as concluded from the analysis of economic assistance to democratic countries and Marshall Plan). At the first glance, it may seem that United States foreign policy towards Turkey and Greece was idealistic, because officially and primarily it was stated by the government of the United States that the aim of the help to Greece and Turkey was to give aid to the democracies and free people to save their freedom and sovereignty. As President Truman illustrated, “the future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound state is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world” (23)

and “the Greek Government has also asked for the assistance.” (11). But on further consideration it was much more realistic than idealistic.
First, as McGhee informs, “the Soviet minister of the armed forces commented to the Turkish ambassador in Moscow that in the past ‘he had admired Turkey.but now Turkey had placed herself under American hegemony, was allowing [the] US army [to] create bases in Turkey’, to prepare war against the Soviet Union” (43). This quotation shows that time proved that military and economical assistance policy to Turkey really helped out to stop the spread of communism and USSR into the country; USSR lost any influence and even interest in Turkey. Greece also got rid of the communist’s guerillas and saved freedom. Moreover, those the protection of Greeks and Turkish led to the sheltering whole regions from the communists; USSR could not spread its influence further west from Greece, into Mediterranean and further west south from Azerbaijan.
Secondly, the United States created strong allies with those two countries: Turkey and the Kingdom of Greece joined NATO alliance in 1949; NATO and United States military bases were built in those countries immediately.

In conclusion, “the Truman Doctrine made the departure by declaring that whenever aggression – direct or indirect – threatened the peace, US security was involved” (McGhee, 23). In other words the United States foreign policy during the years of 1946-1950 was to give aid to all democratic or seeking democracy countries. To stress, the construction of the United States foreign economical and military aid policy from 1946 to 1950 served as the foundation for US foreign policy throughout the next 40 years, till the collapse of the USSR.
Charles R Shrader. “Reference Guide to United States Military History: 1945 to the
Present”. New York. 1995
George Mcghee. “The US – Turkish – NATO – Middle East Connection”. St. Martin Press. New York. 1990
Harris S Truman “Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey”

H. B. Price. “The Marshall Plan and Its Meaning”. New York. 1955
Mrozek, Donald J. “The Cold War.” Encyclopedia of the American Military. NY:
Scribner’s. 1994
National Security Council. “United States Objectives and Programs for National
Security”. April 14 1950

Willard L. Thorp. “The reality of Foreign Aid”. Praeger Publishers. 1971
William W Epley. “International Cold War Military Records and History: Proceedings
of International Conference.March 1994”. Wash, DC: OSD. 1996

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