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Truman's Point Four and the 1950s
Carlos Enrique Cairo
Created on May 2, 2022
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Truman's Point Four and the 1950s
The History of Development and Inter-American Cooperation
Lehrende: Herr PD Dr. Frederik Schulze
Student: Carlos Enrique Cairo
Who was Harry S. Truman?
- He was the 33° President of the United States from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1953.
- Served as vice president during the brief second presidential term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January–April 1945).
- Different course than Roosevelt, who was heir to a wealthy New York family and educated in the most elite institutions in the country. While Truman was son of a Missouri cattle dealer and worked as a car insurance salesman. To this day is the only president of the United States without a university education.
- Profound change in US relations with the USSR: Truman severed ties with Stalin, who had been Roosevelt's ally in his fight against Nazi Germany. After the end of World War II, Truman stopped sending materials to the USSR and did not offer it a share in the technology, as Roosevelt had intended.
- Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Truman concluded that only the bombing of a city would make an adequate impression. He followed certain criteria: it had to be a city that had suffered little damage from conventional bombing; it had to be a city primarily engaged in military production; and it had not to be a city of traditional cultural importance to Japan, since the aim was not to destroy Japanese culture or the Japanese people but to destroy Japan's ability to wage war.
Finally, on 6 August 1945, the world's first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.
- Truman Doctrin: The so-called "Truman Doctrine", announced by the President in 1947, was the formulation of this worldview: "The United States must support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or external pressures. (...) I believe that our assistance should be primarily economic and financial, which is essential to stability" ("frighten the American people").
- In other words: a world impoverished by six years of war was fertile ground for communism, so the US had to spend money to make sure that countries around the world did not go over to Moscow's side.
- Military measures:
1) implementation of a $400 million aid programme to Greece and Turkey. It was aimed at sending military troops and financing anti-communist forces in Greece and Turkey;
2) founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949 as a defensive alliance against the Soviets and the threat of Mao Tse-Tung's Chinese Revolution;
3) sending troops to South Korea in 1950 to stop the invasion of the communist North.
- "Marshall Plan" or European Recovery Programme: it offered economic aid to all European countries that accepted the control and integration mechanisms put in place by the United States. The programme had three objectives:
1) to prevent the insolvency of European countries, which would have had negative consequences for the US economy;
2) to improve social conditions in order to prevent the spread of communism;
3) to strengthen democratic regimes willing to support US policy on the international stage.
"[...] Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.
[...] The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible.
I believe that we should make available to peaceloving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better lie. And, in cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital investment in areas needing development [...]"
President Truman's Point Four (Inaugural Adress on January 30, 1949)
- After the Potsdam Conference, and following the surrender of the Nazi Germany, tensions arose over the new order of the devastated Europe, especially with regard to Poland, which was controlled by Stalin, raising fears of an expansion of communism.
- Germany as a divisive issue for the former Allies: while the USSR wanted to take Germany's resources for its own reconstruction, the United States showed a growing interest in German recovery with Marshall Plan. Moreover, Germany was seen as a rampart against the advance of communism.
- Break-up of the old alliance in 1947: the United States committed itself to European reconstruction and took on the role of gendarme of the capitalist order.
- In Western Europe, the Communists in France and Italy captured a significant share of votes in the first post-war elections and joined coalition governments in the first post-war elections.
- The USSR controlled the basic levers of power in the Eastern European countries. The Information Office of the Communist and Workers' Parties (Kominfonn) was set up.
- In West Germany, the three occupying powers (France, Britain and the United States) unified the military-controlled regions and local authorities were granted increasing autonomy.
- Stalin closed the communication routes between Berlin and the outside world.
- Berlin, which was in the Soviet zone, was divided into four sectors, which the Western powers were unwilling to abandon.
- In May 1949, the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) was officially decreed, covering all areas occupied by the Western powers, including West Berlin.
- In October of the same year, the creation of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), consisting of the five states occupied by Soviet troops, was announced.
This division lasted until 1990.
- Baime, A. J. (2017). The accidental president: Harry S. Truman and the four months that changed the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Béjar, M. D. (2019). Historia del siglo XX: Europa, América, Asia, África y Oceanía. Siglo XXI Editores.
- - Hernández-Echeverría, C (2020). De Roosevelt a Truman: perfilando la Guerra Fría, available on https://www.lavanguardia.com/historiayvida/historia-contemporanea/20200412/48395517677/truman-roosevelt-iigm-conferencia-postdam-bomba-atomica-guerra-fria.html
- Verplaetse, J. G. (1950). El punto cuatro del Presidente Truman. Cuadernos de estudios africanos, (9), 97.