For many years in the early 20th century, two world powers with very different forms of government and economy bred contempt and suspicion toward each other’s policies. These opposing forces were the United States of America and the Soviet Union.
The United States was a capitalist country, believing in political freedom and democracy. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was ruled by communism, in which the needs of the individual were subordinated to those of the society as a whole (Heater, 1989: 5). During this conflict called the Cold War, three United States Presidents rose up as leaders and had a profound impact each on the outcome of this period of hostility.
Thefirst of these leaders was President Harry S. Truman. Born in 1884, he served as a judge and senator before becoming Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Vice President in 1945. He became the 33rd president of the United States just 11 weeks later, due to the death of Roosevelt (Heater, 1989: 55).
President Truman was more suspicious of the Soviet Union than Roosevelt had been. He worried a great deal about the danger of Soviet expansion and the spread of communism, which ultimately led to the Truman Doctrine. After World War II, Europe suffered a rough transition from war to peace. More than 30 million Europeans had been killed, and about 25 percent of all the wealth of Great Britain had been destroyed during the war. Millions of people were homeless and hungry, railroads had been wrecked, bridges blown up, and factories had been smashed (Garraty, 1994: 985). Due to these conditions, communist parties became stronger in several Eastern European countries. Truman felt it necessary to check the spread of communism in Europe, for he believed that if Greece,(Great Britain could no longer aid them against communist guerrillas due to their own financial problems) fell under the communist influence, its neighbor Turkey might become communis.