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
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.
The British Government, which has been helping Greece, can give no
further financial or economic aid after March 31. Great Britain finds
itself under the necessity of reducing or liquidating its commitments
in several parts of the world, including Greece.
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
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
The British government has informed us that, owing to its own
difficulties 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 time.
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 peoples to
maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against
aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian
regimes. 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 way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is
distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free
elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and
religion, and freedom from political oppression.
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
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
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 and
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.
[Source: Gale Stokes, From Stalinism to Pluralism: A Documentary
History of Eastern Europe Since 1945, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford,
1996), pp. 35-37. The full text of the Truman
Doctrine is available from Avalon.]
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