The Cold War Harry Truman was the 33rd President of the United States from about the end of World War 2 and from the beginning of the Cold War in 1945 until he retired in January, 1952. Harry Truman was born in 1884, in Missouri. In April 1945 Truman assumed office as the President on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. From the 16th of July to the 2nd of August the Potsdam conference was held in Potsdam, Berlin.
Truman and Stalin and Churchill attended the conference until Churchill was beaten in an election by Atlee and replaced. Truman was worried about this encounter with Stalin as he was not very well informed on him, as Roosevelt had not involved him in political issues therefore he lacked the knowledge on how to handle Stalin. The main issue at the conference was on Germany. They established the principle occupations, which were to de-nazify,de-militerise, de-centeralise de-industrialise and democrasise all of Germany. Germany’s reparations were decided. They also established that Germany’s future would be jointly worked out, no separate development without consultation of forgien ministers. Also at Potsdam the Polish borders were defined, and Russia agreed entry to the Pacific War.
Truman distrusted the Russians before the conference and by the end of the conference in August Truman had developed an even larger distrust towards Russia. He felt the Russians had been given too much at Yalta and he was adopting a harder attitude. He also felt that with the power he held with the Atomic bomb, USSR were under control. The relationship between the superpwers worsened considerably at Potsdam. On the 6th of August 1945 Truman authorised an Atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima, a city in Japan and another in Nagasaki, two days later, they caused horrendous damage, and many thousands of people died.
After the bombs were dropped US troops occupied Japan not allowing any other forces in. Truman had told Stalin little about the bomb, first informing him at Potsdam and when he authorised the drop, he had not consulted or warned Stalin, this angered him as he had wanted to gain some Japanese territory before the end of the war and the tension began to build. The rise of two new “superpowers”developed after the war, the USA and the USSR, both wanting to be the more powerful nation. There was a rising tension between Truman and Stalin, as Truman had a different attitude to the USSR and Stalin than Roosevelt had previously. Roosevelts ideas to give USSR a large post-war reconstruction loans, were dropped by Truman as he was not going to give USSR any economic assistance, as it was a threat to communist expansion.
Tension contiued to build through the rest of 1945. When Truman spoke to Molotov the Soviet foreign minister, he did not express any agreement with USSR in having a pro-communist government in Poland. Truman failed to see how important Poland was to USSR, leaving an increasingly angered Stalin. 1945 also saw the beginning of the arms race as USA held the only atomic bombs. In 1946 the USA proposed that the United Nations should assume control of atomic energy and research, but the USSR rejected the proposal on the grounds that this would enable the USA to maintain its monopoly over atomic weapons. America’s sole possesion to the atomic bomb ended in 1949 when the USSR had developed their own atomic bomb.
1947 saw the beginning of the Truman doctrine, it’s main aim was to assist countries which were threatened by commuist expansion. Truman sent a message to the US congress, pledging American support for ‘free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures’. (dictionary of 20th centuary..). prompted by the need to give military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey, the Truman doctrine marked a change to positive anti-communism on the part of the administration. On the 5th of June1947 General Marshall, offered American finiancial aid for a programme of European recovery, on a condition that the European countries themselves took the first steps towards economic collaboration. The plan was supprt by the west but the Russian foreign minister,Molotov rejected it. After long consulation the Western powers organised a conference for July ’47, the OEEC was set up and this organisation, which stands for Organisation for European Economic cooperation consisted of 18 European countries and USA and Canada.
The OEEC administered Marshall Aid,otherwise known as the Marshall Plan which totalled 17 billion dollars, it stimulated the speedy recovery of Europe from the disturbance of war. The Presidential Elections of 1948 saw a re-election of Truman against Dewey which confounded all predictions of Trumans ability, as he won convincingly. 1949 saw the introduction of the ‘four point programme’, or Point Four as it came to be called, it’s idea was to be a broad programme aimed at giving aid to under developed countries. Although Truman was very enthuiastic about this, his Secretary of State, Dean Acheson did not support this idea. Acheson offered absolute loyalty and an appreciation of the Presidents requirments, surpassing any of Trumans other Secretaries of State.(Man of the people :p510). Instead of trying to talk Truman out of it, he dragged it through the planning process and let it fade in Congress. In the end, it recieved 26.9 million in Sept 1950, unfortunately for Truman this was hardly enough to assist many countries to recover a country after war, let alone a large proportion of the under developed world.
A North Atlantic treaty was signed on 4th April 1949, in Washington by 12 signatories of major Eastern European and North American states stating that they would provide mutual assistance should any one member be attacked, mainly directed at the threat of USSR . As a result the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was set up, otherwise known as NATO. Truman worked hard to promote NATO, as the most dominant part of his policy to stop the spread of communism, was to give aid to under developed countries threatened by USSR. (World History;p618/ Dict of 20th..;p305) In 1950 Truman authorised the US intervention into Korea and nominated Douglas Macarthur as commander-in-chief of the UN forces. When the Chinese communist troops entered North Korea Macarthur demanded forces to attack Chinese territory, Truman refused this advance and after Macarthur’s appeals to the people of the USA, Truman dismissed him to emphisise USA’s limited involvment in Korea in support of the UN. (Who did what?;p162) In 1951 Truman signed a mutual defence treaty with the Phillipines, after the US had given the them over 800 million US dollars in economic aid since 1946 to assist their development as a republic. (International affairs;p113) Also in 1951 the US drew up a draft peace treaty with Japan without consulting USSR. This was rejected by Stalin and accepted by the other western powers.
The Treaty was signed on the 8th of sept 1951 by 48 countries. It came into effect on the 28 April 1952, and at the same time the allied occupation of Japan officially ended. At the same time as the peace treaty a security pact was signed by the US and Japan, permitting US troops to stay in Japan until it was definite there was no threat to the region. Mainly in reference to the war in Korea. The over all affect of the treaty was to convert Japan into an ally of the USA. The conservative governments that prevailed in Japan after 1947 were anti-communist and pro-western.
Truman thought it was imperitive that part of Japan’s forward defense system in the Pacific should be set up to help contain communist China.(internat. affairs;p120) Truman realised the intellectual need to give up presidency, but the decision was emotionally difficult. He announced his decision on March 29th 1952 in a speech in Washington stating that he “shall not be a candidate for reelection” (man of the.;p605). He concluded retirment after hearing Dwight D. Eisenhower was standing for election, although Truman was not Republican he supported Eisenhower who became his succeessor as president, previously Eisenhower had been the chief of staff in Washington and the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe. In January 1953 Truman retired into private life in Independance, Missouri.
Where he died on Dec 26th 1972 at the age of 90./ History.