Image: Portrait of Harry Truman

Truman: The Prince of U.S. Foreign Policy

The presidency of Harry Truman was one that took the United States into a new era in foreign relations and world power. The establishment of the United States as a world nuclear power was realized, as well as its current reputation as a humanitarian nation.

When Truman unexpectedly took the reigns as president in April of 1945, he was suddenly forced to deal with keeping a nation together and winning the greatest war history had ever seen. Truman led the United States forces in the final days of the war with Germany. After Germany fell, Truman's role in the international spot light was not yet finished. He had one obstacle left, Japan. The risks of a mainland invasion of Japan, even with the help of communist Russia, were great. Truman's onlyImage: Atomic explosion other option was to release an atomic bomb. After tremendous consideration, he ordered the bomb to be released. With the detonation of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, and Truman emerged from the war as the head of the world's only superpower. The United States became a world wide symbol of power, thrusting the nation out of its isolationist shell, and into the forefront of world politics.

Truman hated communism. With the war over, the United States no longer needed Russia as an ally. When Russia started taking over Eastern Europe, Truman was able to take a hard stand against communism. This stand was called the Truman Doctrine. In a speech to congress, Truman asked for 400 million dollars and military aid to be sent to Greece and Turkey to help them fend off the imposing communist invasions. Truman's Doctrine established the United States as a watchdog nation. The United States now had a reputation of defending weaker nations against outside aggressions.

Europe was in a shambles after the end of World War II. This state of weakness helped the communists in their acquisitions. To help defend against further communist invasions, to help Europe rebuild quickly, and to help avoid a repetition of the disastrous consequences of World War I, the Truman Administration enacted the Marshall Plan. Image: Atomic explosion This plan established the United States as a "big brother" nation. The Marshall plan allotted for economic aid to be given to the nations of Europe. It also allowed for an airlift to help deliver supplies to the United States portion of Berlin.

The Truman Administration and Truman himself did a great deal to help push the United States into becoming a major world power. Only surpassed by Richard Nixon in the changes brought to American foreign policy, Truman helped the United States to achieve its current status in world affairs. He established the United States as a superpower and as the "big brother" nation it continues to be today.

Sources for images and links to other Truman sites:

To AP US History Page


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