the Eastern Mediterranean had traditionally been regarded as being
within the British sphere of influence, when the US Government learns
of the British decisions regarding Greece and Turkey, President
Truman proposes to Congress that, "It must be the policy of
the United States of America to support free peoples who are resisting
attempted subjugation by armed minorities, or by outside pressure."
Congress accepts this concept, which becomes known as the Truman
Doctrine, and approves a $400 million aid-package for Greece and
But if the
Truman Doctrine brings relief to these two countries, the pressure
on the rest of Europe remains as grave as ever. US Secretary of
State George C. Marshall, in a landmark address in June 1947, begins
by summing up the problem, "Europe's requirements are so much
greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial
additional help or face economic, social and political deterioration
of a very grave character." He then goes on to launch a major
policy initiative, proposing that, with US assistance, the European
nations should evaluate their needs and draw up a common programme
born the European Recovery Programme, better known as the Marshall
Plan. While most European countries eagerly agree to participate,
the Soviet Union declines and the other countries of the Eastern
bloc are obliged to do likewise.
In the West,
the Marshall Plan has a rapid and positive impact. In some countries,
production is to rise by over 100% within five years. By 1952, thanks
to American help and the close cooperation between the West Europeans
engendered by the Recovery Programme, production in Europe comes
to exceed its pre-war levels.
before Congress concludes its discussion of the Marshall Plan, the
danger facing European democracies is starkly illustrated when,
in February 1948, the government of Czechoslovakia is toppled by
a Communist coup.