Truman Doctrine to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism

This is how the NY Times worded its “On This Day” listing two days ago: “On March 12, 1947, President Truman established what became known as the Truman Doctrine to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.”

The statement is factually accurate. But note the use of “to help” and “resist”. That is remarkably prejudicial spin to place on these events of over six decades ago. Who exactly within Greece and Turkey was being helped and what did that resistance look like?

This is how William Blum summarizes that help: “Greece, 1947-49: Intervened in a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left which had fought the Nazis courageously. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a new internal security agency, KYP. Before long, KYP was carrying out all the endearing practices of secret police everywhere, including systematic torture.”

Noam Chomsky’s unearths some of the historical context:

“In secret discussion of Truman’s proposal for intervention in Greece and Turkey (the Truman Doctrine), Senator Walter George observed that Truman had “put this nation squarely on the line against certain ideologies,” a stance that would not be easy to sell to the public. Senator Arthur Vandenberg added that “unless we dramatize this thing in every possible way,” the public would never understand. It would be necessary to “scare hell out of the American people,” he advised. The public was fed tales much like those used to bludgeon the mass mind of recalcitrant officials, in a style that was “clearer than truth,” as Dean Acheson later said approvingly. As a new crusade was being launched in 1981, Harvard government professor and foreign policy adviser Samuel Huntington explained that: “You may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has done ever since the Truman Doctrine.””

Truman Acts to Save Nations from Red Rule


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