The Truman Doctrine
March 12, 1947
The gravity of the situation which confronts the world
today necessitates my appearance before a joint session
of the Congress. The foreign policy and the national security
of this country are involved.
One aspect of the present situation, which I wish to present
to you at this time for your consideration and decision,
concerns Greece and Turkey.
The United States has received from the Greek Government
an urgent appeal for financial and economic assistance.
Preliminary reports from the American Economic Mission
now in Greece and reports from the American Ambassador
in Greece corroborate the statement of the Greek Government
that assistance is imperative if Greece is to survive as
a free nation.
I do not believe that the American people and the Congress
wish to turn a deaf ear to the appeal of the Greek Government.
Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient natural
resources has always forced the Greek people to work hard
to make both ends meet. Since 1940, this industrious and
peace-loving country has suffered invasion, four years
of cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal strife.
When forces of liberation entered Greece they found that
the retreating Germans had destroyed virtually all the
railways, roads, port facilities, communications and merchant
marine. More than a thousand villages had been burned.
Eighty-five per cent of the children were tubercular. Livestock,
poultry and draft animals had almost disappeared. Inflation
had wiped out practically all savings.
As a result of these tragic conditions, a military minority,
exploiting human want and misery, was able to create political
chaos which, until now, has made economic recovery impossible.
Greece is today without funds to finance the importation
of those goods which are essential to bare subsistence.
Under these circumstances the people of Greece cannot make
progress in solving their problems of reconstruction. Greece
is in desperate need of financial and economic assistance
to enable it to resume purchases of food, clothing, fuel
and seeds. These are indispensable for the subsistence
of its people and are obtainable only from abroad. Greece
must have help to import the goods necessary to restore
internal order and security so essential for economic and
The Greek Government has also asked for the assistance
of experienced American administrators, economists and
technicians to insure that the financial and other aid
given to Greece shall be used effectively in creating a
stable and self-sustaining economy and in improving its
The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened
by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men,
led by Communists, who defy the Government's authority
at a number of points, particularly along the northern
boundaries. A commission appointed by the United Nations
Security Council is at present investigating disturbed
conditions in northern Greece and alleged border violations
along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania,
Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on the other.
Meanwhile, the Greek Government is unable to cope with
the situation. The Greek Army is small and poorly equipped.
It needs supplies and equipment if it is to restore the
authority of the Government throughout Greek territory.
Greece must have assistance if it is to become a self-supporting
and self-respecting democracy.
The United States must supply that assistance. We have
already extended to Greece certain types of relief and
economic aid but these are inadequate. There is no other
country to which democratic Greece can turn.
No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary
support for a democratic Greek Government.
The British Government, which has been helping Greece,
can give no further financial or economic aid after March.
Great Britain finds itself under the necessity of reducing
or liquidating its commitments in several parts of the
world, including Greece.
We have considered how the United Nations might assist
in this crisis. But the situation is an urgent one requiring
immediate action, and the United Nations and its related
organizations are not in a position to extend help of the
kind that is required.
It is important to note that the Greek Government has
asked for our aid in utilizing effectively the financial
and other assistance we may give to Greece, and in improving
public administration. It is of the utmost importance that
we supervise the use of any funds made available to Greece,
in such a manner that each dollar spent will count toward
making Greece self-supporting, and will help to build an
economy in which a healthy democracy can flourish.
No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of
a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible
and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.
The Government of Greece is not perfect. Nevertheless it
represents 85 per cent of the members of the Greek parliament
who were chosen in an election last year. Foreign observers,
including 692 Americans, considered this election to be
a fair expression of the views of the Greek people.
The Greek Government has been operating in an atmosphere
of chaos and extremism. It has made mistakes. The extension
of aid by this country does not mean that the United States
condones everything that the Greek Government has done
or will do. We have condemned in the past, and we condemn
now, extremist measures of the Right or the Left. We have
in the past advised tolerance, and we advise tolerance
Greece's neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our attention.
The future of Turkey as an independent and economically
sound State is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving
peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The circumstances
in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different
from those of Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters
that have beset Greece. And during the war, the United
States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material
Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support.
Since the war Turkey has sought financial assistance from
Great Britain and the United States for the purpose of
effecting that modernization necessary for the maintenance
of its national integrity.
That integrity is essential to the preservation of order
in the Middle East.
The British Government has informed us that, owing to
its own difficulties, it can no longer extend financial
or economic aid to Turkey.
As in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance
it needs, the United States must supply it. We are the
only country able to provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if
the United States extends assistance to Greece and Turkey,
and I shall discuss these implications with you at this
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of
the United States is the creation of conditions in which
we and other nations will be able to work out a way of
life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in
the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over
countries which sought to impose their will, and their
way of life, upon other nations.
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from
coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in
establishing the United Nations. The United Nations is
designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence
for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives,
however, unless we are willing to help free people to maintain
their free institutions and their national integrity against
aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian
This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian
regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect
aggression, undermine the foundations of international
peace and hence the security of the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have
recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against
their will. The Government of the United States has made
frequent protests against coercion and intimidation in
violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and
Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries
there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation
must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice
is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority,
and is distinguished by free institutions, representative
government, free elections, guaranties of individual liberty,
freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority
forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror
and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections,
and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that 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. I believe
that we must assist free peoples to work out their own
destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should
be primarily through economic and financial aid which is
essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred.
But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation
of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as
coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration.
In helping free and independent nations to maintain their
freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the
principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is necessary only to glance at a map to realize that
the survival and integrity of the Greek nation are of grave
importance in a much wider situation. If Greece should
fall under the control of an armed minority, the effect
upon its neighbor, Turkey, would be immediate and serious.
Confusion and disorder might well spread throughout the
entire Middle East.
Moreover, the disappearance of Greece as an independent
State would have a profound effect upon those countries
in Europe whose peoples are struggling against great difficulties
to maintain their freedoms and their independence while
they repair the damages of war. It would be an unspeakable
tragedy if these countries, which have struggled so long
against overwhelming odds, should lose that victory for
which they sacrificed so much. Collapse of free institutions
and loss of independence would be disastrous not only for
them but for the world.
Discouragement and possibly failure would quickly be the
lot of neighboring peoples striving to maintain their freedom
Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful
hour, the effect will be far-reaching to the West as well
as to the East. We must take immediate and resolute action.
I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for
assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000
for the period ending June 30, 1948. In requesting these
funds, l have taken into consideration the maximum amount
of relief assistance which would be furnished to Greece
out of the $350,000,000 which I recently requested that
the Congress authorize for the prevention of starvation
and suffering in countries devastated by the war.
In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to authorize
the detail of American civilian and military personnel
to Greece and Turkey, at the request of those countries,
to assist in the tasks of reconstruction, and for the purpose
of supervising the use of such financial and material assistance
as may be furnished. I recommend that authority also be
provided for the instruction and training of selected Greek
and Turkish personnel.
Finally, I ask that the Congress provide authority which
will permit the speediest and most effective use, in terms
of needed commodities, supplies and equipment, of such
funds as may be authorized.
If further funds, or further authority, should be needed
for purposes indicated in this message, I shall not hesitate
to bring the situation before the Congress. On this subject
the executive and legislative branches of the Government
must work together.
This is a serious course upon which we embark. l would
not recommend it except that the alternative is much more
The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward
winning world war 11. This is an investment in world freedom
and world peace. The assistance that I am recommending
for Greece and Turkey amounts to little more than one-tenth
of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense
that we should safeguard this investment and make sure
that it was not in vain.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery
and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty
and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope
of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in
maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership,
we may endanger the peace of the world and we shall surely
endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the
swift movement of events. I am confident that the Congress
will face these responsibilities squarely.