Ep. 20: The Power of the Universe Part II (Harry S. Truman)
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So just make sure you go to kickstarter and look up this American President podcasts studio and again just behalf of me and Michael we just want to thank you all for your generous donations and we look forward to giving you more quality historical content in the future in our previous episode we covered President Harry S Truman's unlikely rise to power and his first few months in office he had made the momentous decision to drop the atomic bomb world. War Two is over in America and the world. Now look to an era of peace but new problems were on the horizon the victorious allies were now forging a new world order but couldn't agree on what that order should look like the world had suffered through two world wars and desperately feared a third one especially now that the atomic genie was out of the bottle how President Truman handled. These challenges is the subject of this episode of this American President. As we covered in our previous episode Truman succeeded to the presidency. Upon the death of Franklin D Roosevelt the longest serving president and one of the most consequential chief executives in American history. It was not easy to follow president as popular as FDR and Truman would spend much of his presidency trying to measure up but for those who neutral and worked with him. There was something about him that people admired in a previous episode about FDR. I noted that he was a bit devious. He was a true politician who often gave his staffers contradictory information and manipulated them. Roosevelt's secretary of war Henry Stimson who served as a cabinet member for two previous presidents described him as quote the poorest administrator. I've ever worked under not so with Truman. This midwestern Haberdasher was refreshingly straightforward even with the media journalists Cable Phillips wrote quote. He used the press. Occasionally as most presidents have done to test the wind but he never tried to condom with flattery and devious favouritism Harry. Truman worked less to ingratiate himself with people but succeeded better at it than any important public figure. I've ever known he did it. I think because he was so utterly honest with and about himself there was something. People found endearing about the feisty. Midwesterner he also had these huge pair of bottle cap glasses that magnified his is White House. Usher J. B. West said quote. I had the feeling he was looking at me. All around me straight through me. Truman's advisers and his staff came to really love the man they admired his integrity and the way he managed his administration his Labor Secretary of State Dean Aitchison wrote quote. He was so fair he didn't make different decisions with different people. He called everyone together. You were all heard and you got the answer together. He was a square dealer. All the way through atchison found that Truman was confident insecure in his own abilities. Even while being surrounded by brilliant men observing that quote he was not afraid of the competition of other ideas but atchison added that Truman was grounded and humble quote free of the greatest vice in a leader. His Ego never came between him and his job and they loved his unpretentious manner. A secret service agent Floyd Boring wrote quote. He never came on as being superior he would talk to anyone. He could talk to the lowly peasant he could also talk to the King of England agent boring later called one of my favourite Harry Truman stories which made clear his devotion to his wife. Bess now best. Truman hated the limelight and hated being first lady and Truman remained totally devoted to her. When Truman was in Berlin during the Potsdam conference he was in a car with a young military officer and agent boring during the ride the officer hinted to him he could get him anything he wanted including a Harem of women in response. Truman gave him the reprimand of a lifetime. He said quote listened son. I'm married my sweetheart. She doesn't run around on me and I don't run around on her. I want that understood. Don't ever mention that kind of stuff to me again when Truman got out he didn't bother saying goodbye to the young officer. In the few months after the Japanese surrender. The world remained euphoric from the end of the war but many feared that a new conflict was on the horizon the Soviets continued to ignore the Yalta agreements negotiated by FDR Churchill and Stalin earlier in nineteen forty. The Soviets promised democratic elections in Eastern Europe. But they were reneging on that commitment. The Soviet Union was imposing Communist. Puppet governments there and in other places like Azerbaijan. The Soviets believed that they were entitled to create a buffer zone in eastern Europe. Something they wanted to do after being invaded twice by Germany during the world wars but that buffer zone meant totalitarian rule over the populations in those countries. The Americans and the Soviets grew more and more suspicious of each other's intentions at the same time. Communist parties were rising and France in Italy and in China the most populous nation on the planet the Communists under Mao Zedong were gaining ground in the civil war. Against Chiang's nationalist government. Many Americans felt that Communism was spreading across the world and feared that it was just as aggressive. A totalitarian government as the Nazi regime was in just a few weeks in February and March of Nineteen forty-six a series of events occurred that would solidify. What would be known as the Cold War on February Ninth Soviet leader? Joseph Stalin delivered a speech in Moscow where he recapped what happened during World War. Two and how the victory over the Nazis supposedly was proof of the superiority of the Communist system. It's interesting because I read the speech. And he doesn't directly say much about the United States or the West or about boosting military production but given the tensions of the time it was interpreted as an aggressive speech Stalin said that capitalism inevitably leads to war which is what happened in World War Two and seemed to imply that a future war was also inevitable quote perhaps catastrophic wars could be avoided if it were possible periodically to redistribute raw materials and market among the respective countries in conformity with their economic weight. By means of concerted and peaceful decisions. But this is impossible. Under the President. Capitalists conditions of the world economic development stolen then called for a massive increase in steel iron coal and oil production saying quote. Only when we succeed in doing that can we be sure that our motherland will be insured against all contingencies. Americans were alarmed Supreme Court Justice William. Douglas said it was a quote declaration of World War Three. It's easy to think that this may have been an overreaction on the part of Americans be after a member. They had the memory of arms races in the early twentieth century when Europe especially Britain and Germany engaged in an endless competition to build stronger ships and other weapons of war arms racists that ended turning into war to them arms. Racists seemed to make a war inevitable and then came disturbing news from the north from Canada. A clerk named Eager Zenko who worked in the Soviet embassy defected and exposed a high level. Spiring which was passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union about the Manhattan project. The project to build the atomic bomb eventually thirty nine people were arrested in eighteen. Were convicted one of them was an actual member of the Canadian parliament. A man named Fred rose. I remember taking American history classes in college and learning about the paranoia that people felt during the Cold War and I got the sense that my professors and classmates thought that it was silly for Americans to have been so concerned and there were times when in a country of hundreds of millions that paranoia might have gone too far and have led to excesses. But I think it's easy to forget why Americans felt the fear of communism that they did. They had lived through the world wars where they had fought against authoritarian regimes and had a genuine and understandable concern. The Soviets. Were the next great enemy. They had the memory of Hitler in the Nineteen Thirties. How he rose to power and how. Europeans tried to placate him by bargaining with him. They're remember that appeasement only invited further aggression. They remembered how isolationist America had been in the nineteen thirties and how the world fell. Apart without their leadership many Americans felt had they been more involved in the world. They might have prevented things from exploding into global conflict. Far fewer lies would have been lost and now that the Soviets were expanding aggressively into Europe. They wondered if they had to do something now. That if they didn't they'd have to face stronger. Soviet Union later on after all the Soviets were the only true power left in Europe and looming over. All of. This was the fact that the nuclear genie was out of the bottle. America had a monopoly on the bomb as far as they knew but there was a sense that inevitably other nations would soon attain nuclear capability and just north above the United States. Americans were learning that there were people living in Canada actively spying on the Manhattan project on behalf of the Soviets of course. Multiple nations were engaged in espionage America included but the steak seemed higher than ever before with the fear that world war three might be around the corner where the weapons could now threaten the existence of civilization everything even the smallest incidents had geopolitical implications in a time of tension the knowledge that spies were on the continent made it hard to not be at least a little paranoid but these factors in mind. It's easy to see why people were alarmed. It was on February. Twenty Second Nineteen forty-six that a State Department official stationed in Moscow named George. Kennan sent a message to Washington. That would change the course of American Foreign Policy. It would be known as the long telegram. It was an analysis of the Soviet Union. But it was really a kind of psycho analysis of the Russian mind. A mind that predated the communist regime in it. Kenan essentially argued that for years American policy towards the Soviet Union was one big long mistake. According to Canon America under Roosevelt and now under Truman naively believed that it could use diplomacy to cooperate with the Soviets he described Russian leaders as inherently insecure and suspicious of the rest of the world. A kind of deeply embedded paranoia even xenophobia. The telegram reads like a rough draft. It's missing a few articles but bear with me. Quote at bottom of Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity. Ironically can allowed that this was just a reflection of Russian leadership not the People. He said that the people were quote by and large friendly to the outside world eager for experience of it but also that Russian leaders historically were paranoid of outside influence because of their own rule which was fragile and easily threatened by outsiders especially Western nations and that threat wasn't just a military threat but also because the outside world exposed the Russian people to new ideas quote Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic inform fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries. For this reason they have always feared foreign penetration feared direct contact between Western world and their own fear. What would happen if Russians learned truth about world without if foreigners learn truth about world within part of this fear of neighbors was understandable since they had experienced brutal German invasions and bore the brunt of Hitler's war machine but nonetheless it was used as an excuse to impose totalitarianism on their own? People and on nearby states can impress upon his readers that there was nothing. America could do to change the Russians sense of insecurity. It was too much part of their character. Russian leaders including stolen US suspicion and paranoia of the outside world for political control as a justification for imposing dictatorship on the people of the Soviet Union. Communism was the perfect ideology for this. Because it allowed him to claim that the outside world run by capitalists were an ever-present threat to the Soviet Union. Kennan wrote quote Marxist Dogma rendered even more truculent and intolerant by Lennon's interpretation became the perfect vehicle for sense of insecurity with which Bolsheviks even more than previous Russian rulers were afflicted in this dogma with its basic altruism of purpose they found justification for their instinctive fear of outside world for the dictatorship without which they did not know how to rule but Marxism wasn't just about maintaining Soviet rule it was also about fueling Russian nationalism of Russian in now Soviet greatness paranoia breeds a bunker mentality of us against the world quote. This is only the steady advance of uneasy Russian. Nationalism a centuries old movement in which conceptions of offense and defense are inextricably confused. But in the new guys of International Marxism with its honey promises to a desperate and war-torn outside world it is more dangerous and insidious than ever before can also said that this type of mindset precluded any normal type of relationship between the United States and the Soviets quote we are thus up against the fact that suspicion in one degree or another is an integral part of the Soviet system and will not yield entirely to any form of rational persuasion or assurance. This mattered because the Soviet Union dead. Believe quote in the long run. There can be no permanent peaceful coexistence as a result the Soviets would work quote to undermine general political and strategic potential of major Western powers in essence. Ken was saying that the Russians were simply wired to be at odds with America. That there was nothing that could be done to change that for the time. Being and that the Soviet Union was working to destroy the world America and the West. Were trying to build quote. Soviet policy will be directed toward weakening of power and influence and contacts of advanced. Western nations. Kenan didn't spell out a clear strategy. Admitting that he didn't have all the answers he didn't believe that the US should intervene. Militarily to stop the Soviets calling it quote sheerest nonsense. He also noted that the United States had many advantages. Especially since the Soviet Union was between the two quote by far the weaker force he was also careful to distinguish between the totalitarianism represented by Hitler and that represented by Stalin seeing quote Soviet power unlike that of Hitlerite. Germany is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. In other words the Soviets weren't the same impulsive and immediate threat that the Nazis were still ten and was vaguely recommending. A sort of patient long-term strategy of strength. He said that the Soviets were highly sensitive to logic of force if the adversary has sufficient force and makes clear his readiness to use it. He rarely has to do so. According to Kenan America had a real threat to face when it came to remaking the global order and had to build up the strength to confront it it was a subtle more mysterious threat than Nazi Germany. One that we would have to dedicate resources to learn more about and to think carefully it would be a new type of conflict not one out in the open but an ambiguous competition of sorts. That could be of indefinite duration. The document was widely circulated in Washington. Dc and got people at the highest levels of American power thinking about just how to deal with the Soviets President. Truman read the telegram. But we don't know exactly how he reacted. Kenan's paper was sobering but not everyone was convinced that the Soviets were adversaries. The United States and the Soviet Union had been allies for years many Americans at the highest levels had worked closely with Soviet officials. They still believe that. Cooperation was possible and feared that applying cannons ideas could itself bring about the conflict between the two superpowers. It could be a self fulfilling prophecy. Kenan on the other hand seem to argue. The conflict had already started just a couple of weeks. Later on March Fifth President Truman was with Winston Churchill in Fulton Missouri there. Churchill could recently lost his position. As Prime Minister of Great. Britain gave a speech in Westminster College. It was a speech. They would echo throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Steady in in the in the Adriatic. An Ion gooden has descended across the continent behind that line. All the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern the Warsaw value in Prague Vienna. Duck this belegrade ups and software all these famous and the population around them lie unlocked. I must go and all up in one form or another so get influenced by the day. High and in some cases increasing often travel from From Moscow I am not believe the show get record is will well. It's fruit of the war and the indefinite extension of that. How and doctrines what what I have seen of Russia and France and allied building the wall. I am convinced that there's nothing. They admire so much as strict and nothing which they have less respect than weakness is we George. Kennan had called for facing the Soviets with strengh now Winston Churchill. Perhaps the most admired man in the world was putting the weight of his prestige behind that argument. Those who feared Soviet expansionism were pleased by Churchill's speech but others especially those on the left. Felt that Churchill's words were provocative that they would inflame the situation and pushed the Soviets away from US journalist. Walter Lippmann said that the speech was in quote almost catastrophic blunder. More ominously stolen said that it was a quote call to War Harry. Truman's opinions during this time are bit ambiguous on one hand. He had no illusions about the type of regime. The Soviets ran in our previous episode. We saw that he had given the Soviet Foreign Minister. Molotov some tough talk. Chastising him for Soviet violations of the Alta agreements. Truman had promised to be firm on the Russians but he also admitted to being charmed by stolen during their meeting at Potsdam and had said quote. I like stone. He straightforward to his close friend. Charlie Ross. Truman said that he found the worries about Russia. A bit excessive many of Sherman's opponents on the right believe that his administration was failing to act against the Soviets allowing them to impose their rule on eastern Europe. They believed that. This inaction was just as bad or even worse than what Neville Chamberlain had done with Hitler in late thirties that allowing Stalin to impose his will would only invite further aggression and make a future war inevitable. Republican Senator Robert. Taft said that the Democrats were quote so divided between Communism and Americanism. That it's foreign policy can only be futile and contradictory and make the United States the laughing stock of the world a young Republican Congressman from California Richard. Nixon claimed that the trump administration was a quote front for un-american elements wittingly or otherwise either way more officials in the Truman Administration. We're seeing the Soviets as a long term threat even so it's one thing to recognize the communist threat. It's a whole other thing to develop a strategy to deal with it now one thing. I want to emphasize here is just how new everything was. There had never been anything like the Cold War when you consider its scale and complexity how it turned conventional wisdom on its head. It was the first time you can really say that. The entire world was largely divided between two camps. The Americans and the Soviets. It was an ideological conflict. Not JUST WANNA pure power on one side you had the Americans leader the capitalists and democratic world on the other hand you had the Soviets the leader of the communist world. It was also different because it involved a weapon of unprecedented destructive power. Although the Americans alone had the bomb the Soviets were undoubtedly racing to master as well for the First Time. A conflict was developing which involved a weapon that could one day. Destroy all of humanity. This is where you really have to put yourself in the shoes of the people at the time we know history turns out. We know that in one thousand nine hundred nine. The Berlin Wall fell in nineteen ninety one. The Soviet Union fell but as I like to remind people. No one at the time knew that that would happen. They felt just uncertain about their future. As we do about ours. Now the Truman administration faced the challenge of developing policy to deal with this situation. I think it's easy to think of that strategy simplistically as one of quote screw the Communists. It's also easy to assume that American foreign policy at this time was a very simple thing or that everyone in the trump administration agreed with each other that it was a monolithic entity. I remember in college reading history books that portrayed members of the Truman administration as one giant unit of people who saw the Soviet Union in simplistic or unsophisticated terms. Just as some form of unmitigated evil without any understanding the nuances of Communist ideology but the evidence seems to show a much more complex response. The first question was how does one even define success? There wasn't an actual hot war. Going on we're there would be battles with a clear cut winner and loser. This was a far more ambiguous conflict after all. How would the United States win? This cold. War Did victory mean the total collapse of the Soviet Union was at forcing the Soviets out of Europe. Was it a world? Where both sides coexisted peacefully. And what about the cost addressing security threats is expensive it usually involves building up ones military but arms races are expensive. America had just spent billions in World War Two to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese not to mention the money it spent before that for the new deal during the depression confronting a huge powerful nation like the Soviet Union was something that was likely to be very expensive where we willing to spend even more money in a conflict of indefinite duration. And what if in trying to confront the Soviets we actually bankrupted ourselves? What would be the consequences of that? Would we defeating ourselves in trying to defeat the Soviets and there is yet another dilemma? How do you protect yourself from a potential adversary? But do it. In a way without provoking war as the world learned in World War One arms racists are inherently dangerous nations build up their weapons to defend themselves and in the hopes of keeping the peace but in doing so provoked their competitors to do the same thing. The result is usually increased tensions if these tensions increased too much they lead to war. American policymakers had to walk a tightrope. I mentioned George Kennan earlier. The man who wrote the long telegram well in the summer of nineteen forty seven. He wrote another article that appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine. It was titled Quote. The sources of Soviet conduct under the pseudonym. Mister X will documents like these help us understand the kind of strategy. The Truman Administration undertook to deal with the Soviets. The most famous line from this article is quote. The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long term patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. That word containment became the one word summary of American foreign policy. The idea was that the Soviets were intent on expanding their control and influence in the world and this expansion would happen in two different ways over at military means or covert means such as those through espionage or by developing economic and cultural influence over. Its neighbors the United States. Would try to contain that expansion to limit or halted. Us policy makers different alternatives. But they believe that there is no quick fix they even considered some sort of nuclear attack or military action against Moscow but the former might require killing thousands or millions of people and would provoke anger and revulsion around the world. The latter would likely start another war anyways. A war that the American people didn't want some also believe that we should use our monopoly on the bond of force the Russians to change to blackmail them into changing their behavior by threatening to attack them with the atomic bomb. The idea of America threatening to use nuclear weapons at all was just so unsavory. It also brought up the question where we really willing to use the bomb to get our way. That alone could alienate our allies allies. That could be critical in containing the Soviets policy makers in Washington felt that there was no chance to change things quickly. They felt at the Soviets. Were here to stay containing them would be a long-term effort for containment to work. We needed to be patient. It might have to. Last year's maybe even several decades it was a tall order to call a war weary country to a long struggle with no clear picture of victory. But that's what would happen. But American strategists like Kenan face the prospect of how to contain the Russians did that mean responding with force whenever the Russians tried to expand. And how do you establish credibility so that the Soviets took our threats seriously that usually involves showing a willingness to use force after all didn't Churchill say that there is nothing the Russians admire so much a strength and there's nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness but again the use of force was a dangerous thing responding militarily to the Soviets could mean war and that reality was something that no one really wanted? Having fought the World War Two? No one was looking forward to fighting another war. Among superpowers. One thing I think is interesting is just how concern American planners at the time. We're worried about the cost of containment. As I said earlier arms races and wars were expensive. It costs billions of dollars to try to counter. The other side's move and this tit for tat arms race could spiral out of control. There was this fear that the very effort to stop the Soviets would bankrupt America. If that happened we would be defeating ourselves. What if that was part of the Soviets plan would if they were trying to force us into bankrupting ourselves so the Cold War? Became this paradoxical race. Not just to outdo the other side in capability but to do so in a way. That didn't cause one's own treasury to collapse. But how do you do that? Given the simple fact that building up military strength costs money. The Truman administration feared that trying to match the Soviets might be self-defeating and that was related to the question of where to contain communism the Communists according to historian John Lewis Gaddis expanded its influence by installing friendly governments mainly in eastern Europe and by promoting communist political parties in various countries throughout the world the communist forces in China gaining the upper hand against the Western supported nationalist government as the communist expanded in Europe and it was gaining ground in China. The question became. Where should the United States concentrate its efforts to contain the red menace? Some suggested what was called a perimeter defense basically to create an entire perimeter around the communist world. The idea was that wherever the Soviets expanded the United States should intervene somehow to stop it to contain it but there were obvious drawbacks. I trying to defend a massive global perimeter was a very expensive project second. It would essentially give the Soviets the initiative they would be able to dictate where the confrontations what happened. And if it could do that it could choose areas that would play to their strengths. So Kenan sought to address this. I by a process of building up a select group of nations in the world at key strategic locations certain strong points a strategy called strongpoint defense as opposed to the perimeter. Defense part of this was to get American allies strong enough so that they could stand up on their own two feet so that the United States wouldn't have to bear the burden the cost of containing communism alone merrick. Couldn't do this everywhere but it could concentrate on high priority areas. Kennan believed that the United States should focus specifically on building up Europe especially Germany in Asia specifically Japan Ironic. Considering that just a few years earlier world war was fought to destroy those nations capabilities and the way the US would build them up. Wouldn't necessarily come primarily from military means but through economic and technological assistance basically through loans and grants of aid with the specific goal of modernizing their economies a stronger economy would help fund those countries militaries and reduce the appeal of Communist parties. Second Kenan recommended. Basically divide and conquer strategy. The Soviet Union was the leader of international communism and tentacles in different parts of the world. It was inevitable that managing the interest amongst so many entities would become difficult and unwieldy some people today believe that American policymakers of this time viewed the world in simplistic ways that they saw different communist groups as just one monolithic block and that the Russian reds were no different from Chinese reds historian. John Lewis Gaddis writes that quote closer examination reveals more complex. Patterns part of the strategy of dividing up the communist world involve learning nations away from the Soviet bloc. This might be accomplished in part by the power of example. If the West could display a way of life that showcase the prosperity of democracy and capitalism so get states might be tempted to leave Moscow orbit another way would be to provide aid if the United States offered Soviet nations financial incentives. That were better than what the Soviets could offer. They would have even more reason to leave. Moscow's influence as Kennan wrote quote. There's a possibility that Russian communism may someday be destroyed by its own children in the form of the rebellious parties of other nations. But what was the end game? What was the administration? Aiming FOR THROUGH CONTAINMENT WILL. Kenan was a realist. There wasn't some Utopian believed that the Soviet Union would change or that it would collapse and become democratic overnight. He had a farmer realistic goal of what was called behavior modification. The idea was that long-term pressure by the United States and its allies could convince Soviet leaders that they couldn't remain aggressive or interfere in the affairs of other nations abroad. That it's best interests were adhering to the principles underpinning the international system. This meant that the United States would resist aggressive actions by the Soviets but also reward them when they reacted cooperatively constructively. This opened the possibility of having high level talks or summits between the United States president and the Soviet leaders using a punishment reward system. The Soviets might come to see that adhering to Western values might be in their best interest so these were the guiding principles that informed a lot of America's Cold War Strategy. It was one based on an awareness that the United States had limited resources that its population was not for war that there was diversity in the communist world and that change would likely come over time and it was one that relied less on military power in more on the economic power of the United States in one thousand nine forty seven you see the Truman administration implementing the first elements of the strategy. Truman appointed George Marshall The architect of American victory in World War Two as his secretary of state. Truman and Marshall both formulated. What would become the Marshall Plan? It was done in response to the fact that Europe's economy especially Germany was an utter ruins in the aftermath of World War. Two German weakness made it vulnerable to the Soviets from the outside. The desperate conditions suffered by. Its people mates socialism or communism more appealing internally so in June of nineteen forty seven the Truman Administration implemented the Marshall Plan. Truman knew that Marshall was one of the most respected men in the world so he insisted that it be named after him. Knowing that if it were the Truman plan it would incur a lot more opposition. The Marshall Plan did leave open the possibility for aid to Soviet nations again as a way to encourage them to leave the Soviet Union but Moscow ensured that they refused and part of the reason. Was that the plan. Required a certain level of transparency. In how the money was used something stolen could not tolerate. The United States ended up providing about seventeen billion dollars to seventeen countries which today's numbers is about one hundred eighty seven billion an investment in the strength of its allies. Something that would contribute to America's own security for those who believe that this would be expensive. Truman ask quote which is better for the country to spend twenty or thirty billion dollars over the next four years to keep the peace or to do so as we did in nineteen twenty and then have to spend one hundred billion dollars for four years to fight a war in March nineteen forty seven. An unexpected opportunity came up to implement the strong point defense concept at very specific locations at the beginning of the year. Great Britain announced that it would be leaving Greece and Turkey it had been supporting both nations against communist takeovers. The Greeks were fighting a civil war against communists and the Turks were facing pressure from Stalin to allow the Soviets naval access to the Turkish Straits. The Truman administration feared that Britain's departure could mean expansion of Soviet military influence into Europe. One of Ken and strong points so with the help of his close advisor Dean Atchison. Truman developed a plan to aid the two nations on March Twelfth Nineteen forty seven. The president went to Congress and requested four million dollars for Greece and Turkey. But more importantly trim made a declaration. That would come to define his presidency. United States has received from the Greek government and urgent appeal for financial and economic assistance. Greece must have assistance if it is a become a self supporting and self respecting democracy. The very existence of the great state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men led by Communists the British government which has been helping. Greece can give no further financial or economic aid after March thirty first the British government has informed us that owing to its own difficulties. It can no longer extend financial or economic aid to Turkey as in the case of Greece. If Turkey is to have the assistant it needs the United States must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help. 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 freak recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed upon free peoples by direct or indirect aggression undermined the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States. Those words would be known as the Truman Doctrine. The idea that the United States had an obligation to act in defense of other nations to prevent the expansion of communism in Truman's is he was merely implementing Kenan containment policies but others feared that the administration was departing from those policies that it's limited strongpoint strategy was being expanded to a larger scale in. Kenan had ever intended. They feared that Truman might be extending. The United States involvement in the world beyond its capacity ever since the Soviet Union collapsed in. Nineteen ninety-one leaving America as the sole superpower. There has been this misperception. The idea that the goal of American foreign policy during the Cold War was to destroy the Soviet Union at the start of the Cold War. This wasn't the ultimate strategy instead it was to create the conditions so that it would change its behavior or reform itself can strategy to convince the Soviets that it was in their interest follow western norms. There was a sense of realism. In Kenan's plan a wariness of being too ambitious the idea of taking down the entire Soviet regime with all its tanks and ships in the country so large struck many in the west who were already war weary as a fantasy and many felt we would defeat ourselves trying can really fear that we could defeat ourselves by overspending so he worried about American over-extension strategies are Nice on paper. Having a strategy a plan is indispensable but the reality is that things are different in practice especially when they are fused with a sense of urgency the urgency. Let's say that comes with. Having nuclear bomb in a series of events would lead the Truman administration to modify Kenan plan beyond what its author intended June of nineteen forty eight. Joseph Stalin decided to test Western resolve. He ordered that all traffic in and out of Berlin blockade that meant all rail and highway traffic. Anything that came in and out now as I said earlier. Germany was divided into different zones with the United States Britain and France occupying the western part of Germany than Soviet Union occupying the eastern part Berlin was the capital and was also divided into sectors among the great powers the Americans the British and the French and the Soviets had sectors in capital. But the problem for the West. Was that the entire city of Berlin was in the Soviet sector of the whole country. Westerners in Berlin were basically in an island surrounded by Soviet controlled territory. This gave stolen an opportunity. He knew that Berlin 's position in the Soviet sector gave him leverage over the West and he and his advisors also believed that Berlin was a crucial test. I Soviet strength. His foreign minister said quote. What happens to Berlin happens to Germany? What happens to Germany happens to Europe? The Soviets felt that they had reason for the residents of Berlin had. Recently elected city officials were anti communists. Also the west began to combine their occupation zones and created the beginnings of a West German government won aligned with the Western powers. The Soviets believed that these were hostile. Actions designed to create pro-american. Trojan horse in the middle of the Communist bloc. Stalin decided to cut off Berlin from the West with its two point. Five million people preventing anything from coming in or out. Western officials in Berlin would be stranded and left to starve for food and supplies. It represented a daunting challenge to western powers especially since Soviet forces in Berlin outnumbered American British and French forces. Almost three to one. Some critics of Western policy are you at the establishment of a pro American government in West. Germany was too aggressive and forced the Soviets to blockade Berlin at the same time the western part of Germany needed a government. Some kind even if it meant that the country is a whole would be divided and the Soviets had little room to talk since they had set up friendly governments all over eastern Europe not to mention their heavy handed rule resulted in many native berliners supporting anti communists either way. These events served as a pretext for the Soviets to make moves on Berlin. This immediately put Truman in fine. What do you do in this situation if he backed down and pulled American forces out or left them there without aid? America would appear weak so weak that it couldn't protect itself and its allies. Our friends would question our resolve. Remember the lesson of appeasement people felt our adversary would be emboldened but if Truman acted he ran the risk of escalation provoking Soviets into more aggressive. Action isn't hard to imagine war. Potentially breaking out remember events can spiral out of control. That was the lesson of World War. One rational decisions can lead to unintended consequences and potentially total disaster. But Truman didn't flinch and he countered the Soviets with a combination of both resolve and creativity. Truman rejected any ideas of a pullout saying quote. We stay in Berlin period. Just four days later after the blockade began Truman ordered a full-scale airlift operation to supply berliners with food water and supplies. It was a risky move because attempted the Soviets to shoot the planes down. If that happened fighting may ensue and it was also happening during the stress of presidential election year were Truman was running his own term. And where the political stakes were high but truman was willing to dare Stalin soon. American aircraft were flying in thousands of tons of food and supplies every day after about a year by the spring of one thousand nine hundred eighty nine two hundred seventy seven thousand. Flights delivered two point three million tons of food. The whole operation was an unprecedented logistical success. Stalin finally realized the futility of the blockade in order that it's cease Harry. Truman had stood toe to toe with Joseph Stalin the most ruthless despot in the world and got him back down. Although the Berlin airlift was a triumph for the United States? The world remained as dangerous as ever and things would get even more dangerous in nineteen forty eight Harry. Truman had won a presidential term his own right. It was one of the greatest upsets in American history. One of those supporting Harry. Truman was an actor in Hollywood Ronald Reagan. Who also happened to be the head of the screen actors guild. Reagan was an avowed. Fdr NEW DEAL DEMOCRAT. Having voted for him four times and also supported. President Truman appearing with him at a campaign event and recording an ad supporting him Ronald Reagan would eventually abandoned the Democratic Party believing it was failing to respond to Soviet communism in Truman's inaugural address in January twentieth nineteen forty nine. He portrayed the Cold War in terms of an epic confrontation between two ideologies. Two ways of life in pursuit of these aims the United States and other like minded nations find themselves directly opposed by a regime and contrary aims Anna totally different concept of life. That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports to offer freedom security and greater opportunity to mankind misled by that philosophy. Many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only to learn that deceit and mockery poverty end tyranny. Are they're hard? That false philosophy is communism. Communism is based on the belief. That man is so weak and inadequate that he has gone able to govern himself and therefore requires the rule of strong masters. Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity as well as the engine of a right to govern himself with Raisin and justice. Communism suggest subjects to individual you arrest without lawful cau- punishment without trial and forced labor as a channel of the state. It degrades what information he shall receive. What are Teasha show produce what leaders he shall follow and what thoughts he shelf? Inc? Democracy maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom and the exercise of those abilities of his maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by violence. Democracy has proved that social justice can be achieved through peaceful change Communism Hold. The world is so widely divided into opposing classes. Not War is inevitable. Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences just me and maintain a lasting peace the difference the differences between Communism and Democracy. Do not concern the United States alone. People everywhere are coming to realize that what is involved is material well-being human dignity and the right to believe in and worship Dob. I state these differences not go issues out believe as such but because the actions resulting from the communist lots of it are a threat to the efforts of three nations to bring about world recovery and lasting fees. Clearly the Cold War was in full swing. The stakes of that conflict suddenly increased on August. Twenty Ninth Nineteen Forty Nine on that date. The Soviet Union tested their first atomic bomb. It was stunning news with that. The United States lost its monopoly on atomic weapons. The News sent shockwaves around the world. Literally and figuratively experts had estimated that the Soviets would attain the bomb for another four years or so but they were wrong. Americans came to grips with the fact that Joseph Stalin. The butcher of millions now had the most powerful weapon in history. It's impossible to understand how terrifying this was. We live in an era where countries like Pakistan. North Korea. Have some measure of nuclear capability. And we're used to living with that reality people back then weren't used to that yet. The seen the pictures of her Oshima and I gue- sake after the bombings and they felt some measure of security that the bomb was only in American hands. Now they were in the hands of a man. They considered a mass murder. The next major shock was just about a month later on October. First Nineteen Forty Nine Mao tse. Tung officially proclaimed the People's Republic of China Mouse Communist forces had conclusively defeated Chiang Kai Checks Nationalist government and taken power five hundred eighty million Chinese citizens in the most populous country in the world. A fifth of the world's population amount four times larger than the entire population of the United States was now under communism. I remember in high school and College. Learning about the much criticised domino theory the idea that if one country fell to communism in might spread to other countries. Of course now. It's easy to criticise ideas. Simplistic but what if you live during that time? What if you saw what happened? When the West appeased Hitler which only encouraged him further and what if he saw within a month the Soviets? Get the bomb. Almost six hundred million people fall under a communist regime not to mention the cases of Soviet espionage in the United States back home. Truman's opponents blamed him for these developments for insufficiently supporting the nationalists against the Communists in China for failing to prevent the Soviet espionage of US nuclear technology. They continue to accuse his government being infested with communists. The most prominent official to be accused was Alger Hiss. A high level official who had served in the State Department and even been with FDR at the Yalta Conference. This was the environment that produced the rise of Joseph McCarthy the infamous US senator who produced list after of government officials. He claimed we'RE COMMUNISTS MCCARTHY AND SUPPORTERS FIELD. A sense of paranoia across the nation. There was this real sense that the enemy wasn't just out there but here at home the Wisconsin. Senator spoke to those fears and began making audacious claims about the number of communists in the government in the united and it resonated at one point. A Gallup poll showed that forty percent of Americans had a favorable opinion on McCarthy while only thirty six percent had an unfavorable opinion. Pretty soon the House Committee on un-american activities rose to prominence. It had been around since the late thirties but now it became a force as it investigated communist influence. These were the years of the Hollywood blacklist McCarthy Attack Truman and the Democrats he said that the Roosevelt and Sherman administrations constituted quote. Twenty years of treason. It was at this time that Americans began to look back interpret events from this Lens. They now saw Yalta as a massive giveaway to the Soviets as the moment when FDR betrayed millions behind the Iron Curtain. Truman dismissed McCarthy. As a crank sing he was the best asset. The Kremlin has McCarthy had widespread support many shared his fear of communism but more and more people began to question his tactics. Perhaps his biggest mistake was going after. America's most respected figure. George Marshall Marshall had spent some time in China where he tried to bring together the warring factions when it fell to Communism McCarthy accused Marshall being responsible he accused them of being involved in a conspiracy so immense and so- infamous so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man is probably the dumbest thing McCarthy could have done. No one could credibly criticize a man of Marshall Stature. More and more Americans came to see McCarthy's tactics excessive as pure demagoguery regardless of how real the Communist threat was as the national debate raged on the events of Nineteen forty-nine caused the truth administration to shift too far more aggressive posture than that recommended by George Kennan by then the United States had initiated a massive series of bureaucratic reforms. This was the era when the National Security Council the Department of Defense the the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force were all formerly created the major components of the modern national security state. We live in a world where we take it for granted that we have a permanent military intelligence establishment but this was the first time these institutions were created on a permanent basis. Especially in a time where there wasn't a hot work going on. These are massive changes to the American landscape and they started under President Truman. These institutional changes extended internationally as well in one thousand nine hundred eighty nine. Truman's new secretary of state the brilliant dean. Addison negotiated the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. America's first peacetime military alliance ever twelve countries signed up America Canada and many Western European nations to Kenan these actions constituted a possible over extension of America's capability and could be interpreted as aggression by the Soviet Union but in President. Truman's is they were necessary to securing Western civilization. By this time Harry. Truman was no stranger to hard decisions and he had one sitting on his desk. It was on whether or not the United States should initiate development of the hydrogen bomb code named the super in top secret meetings. Harry Truman will always be known as the president who dropped the bomb her Shema but in many ways the debate over whether to build a hydrogen bomb was even more heated and more controversial at the highest levels of government. Now I'm no physicist. I do know that the H. Bomb is based on fusion as opposed to the A-BOMB which uses vision. I also know that the hydrogen bomb representative an exponential leap destructive capability whereas atomic bomb explosions were measured in kilotons thousands of pounds of TNT. Hydrogen bombs were measured in. Megatons or millions of times. If one felt that the atomic bomb gave us the potential to wipe out civilization the H. bomb all but confirmed it too many the H. bomb was a leap closer to the end of civilization. It's no coincidence that this debate raged on soon. After the Russians surprised the world by detonating its own atomic bomb for those who supported developing the hydrogen bomb their most compelling argument was that the Soviets would attain at one day. Probably sooner than we were thinking after all the Soviets had beaten expectations by developing their own atomic bomb. The H bomb supporters argue that the only way to deter the Soviets from future aggression was to beat them to the super for those who oppose developing the bomb there. Most compelling argument was that by developing we were releasing a far more dangerous genie out of a bottle. They argued that developing the hydrogen bomb would only encourage other nations to do so leading to an even more dangerous world and the less secure. America after all. Isn't that what happened? When we developed the atomic bomb they ask. Why not try to work with the Soviets to end the arms race and reduce the threat to the world by abolishing nuclear weapons. Truman's top advisors were split on the issue and it wasn't just an issue of right versus left atchison supported building the hydrogen bomb as did a number of physicist Edward Teller even Eleanor Roosevelt. Prominent supporter of the United Nations was for it but George Kennan was against it as was the father of the Tomich. Bomb Robert Oppenheimer. Truman named several of his advisers including Secretary of State Atchison on a committee known as the Z. Committee to advise him on whether or not to develop the hydrogen bomb in January nineteen fifty. The committee recommended that Truman go forward with the super on January. Thirty First Nineteen fifty. Truman announced the development would forward. If you read about the meetings took place what convinced. Sherman was the intelligence the Soviets were likely to be developing their own hydrogen bomb. He recalled people predicted World War. Three would start when he sent funds to Greece and Turkey to fight communism and that hasn't happened so he felt that the danger of such a war was not imminent ultimately. Truman believe that America had no choice but to build the bomb in his words quote. It is part of my responsibility. As commander in chief of the Armed Forces to see to it that our country is able to defend itself against any possible aggressor accordingly. I've directed the Atomic Energy Commission to continue. Its work on all forms of atomic weapons including the so-called hydrogen or super bomb like all other work in the field of atomic weapons. It is being and will be carried forward. On a basis consistent with the overall objectives of our program for Peace and security with that decision the world entered a new threshold in nuclear firepower it was now the thermonuclear age. In Kenan's is it was yet another departure from his more modest vision of containment. The Truman administration continued to expand the scope of its strategy as we highlighted earlier. Kenan focused primarily on building up our allies economic capacity as an alternative to costly militarization but now that communism seemed to be on the March officials in Washington began considering boosting the defense budget. Some felt that this wasn't necessary. America's economy was after all by far the strongest in the world at this time and it had a four year advantage on the Soviets in nuclear technology. It was easy to assume that the United States had sufficient strength especially when it came to military technology but in reality. This wasn't all that clear after World War. Two America had demobilized rapidly. The American people were anxious to go back to civilian life. The number of military personnel had gone down from about twelve million people in one thousand nine forty five to one point. Five million in nineteen fifty by then life magazine reported that the Soviet Union was far ahead of the United States in total conventional military strength. United States army totaled six hundred. Forty thousand men. The Soviet Union's was at two point. Six million America had one. Armored Division. The Soviets had thirty America may twelve hundred planes per year. The Soviets made seven thousand. America spent six percent of its national income on defense the Soviets spent twenty five percent. The Truman administration sought to balance this equation. In April Nineteen Fifty State Department official. Paul Nitze released a document that would change the direction of American Defense Policy. A repudiated Kenan strongpoint defense strategy and moved in the direction of a perimeter defense designating a large area around the Soviet Union and declaring it close to Soviet expansion. This would be achieved by increasing America's military strength to deter and potentially defeats of yet forces. It called for a truly unprecedented increase in the defense budget. Truman had been spinning around thirteen. Billion Dollars for defense per year knits document also known as NFC sixty eight would increase that to about forty or fifty billion dollars a tripling or quadrupling of the defense budget. That money would go. Not only into nuclear weapons but building up America's conventional forces. Well closing the numerical gap between U S and Soviet military capabilities. Nfc Sixty eight called for speeding up American technological innovation it also called for increased taxes on the American people to fund. The effort heated debate broke out. Among American policymakers again. For people like Kennan. This was exactly what he feared the over extension and potential bankrupting of the United States. Do we really want to militarize the entire effort? Paul taxes on the American people. They felt that shifting from strong point to perimeter defense was a fool's errand for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Some feared that militarization could remake American society from a free peaceful one into an aggressive police state for others especially those on the left. It was a needless escalation of the Cold War. Perhaps making war inevitable. Initially Truman had agreed with Kenan's fears that the US might spend itself to death so instead of implementing NFC sixty eight. He decided to keep it on the shelf for now. He didn't WanNa make a rash decision but events would conspire to change his opinion on June twenty-fourth Nineteen Fifty Harry. Truman was in his hometown. Independence Missouri on a short vacation that night he received a call from Secretary of State Atchison. Who notified him? That North Korea had invaded South Korea. Truman's heart sing according to his daughter. Margaret Truman quote feared that this was the opening of World War Three. He left to fly back to Washington. Create have been part of Japan from nineteen ten nineteen forty-five when the war ended. The country was split in half at the thirty eighth parallel. The northern half was occupied by the Soviets in the southern by the Americans. The Soviets installed a communist government under kimmel sunk. While the Americans installed an anti communist government under syngman Rhee both leaders created dictatorships in hope to unify the entire peninsula under their system. The US had left South Korea but the Soviets continued to support Kim's government. The Communist invasion of South Korea was the first hot war of the nuclear age. American credibility seemed to be on the line people around the world began. Ask would Washington allow communist aggression to stand again? The ghost of appeasement before World War. Two hovered over the West. Truman later wrote quote. I remembered how each time that the democracies failed to act encouraged. The aggressors to keep going ahead if this was allowed to go unchallenged would mean a third World War just a similar incidents had brought on the Second World War some blame secretary of State Atchison in a speech earlier that year atchison described a perimeter defense in Asia that the US would hold and not allowed to be breached. He had neglected to mention Korea and Taiwan as part of that perimeter some believed that this signal to the communist that the United States would not intervene in the event of aggression. In those places. It's hard to know if this was a factor either way the Truman administration had a full blown crisis on its hands as Truman met with his advisers. The consensus was that the Communists had to be stopped in Korea. In Cannon's original Strategy Korea was not specifically a strong point although Asia in general was but that was out the window whether you supported strong point defense perimeter defense. It seems that the great conflict between freedom and tyranny were at stake in this one particular country. The question was how would the United States respond? Should it sending ground troops? Should it just rely on air and naval power or should it just arm the South Koreans without getting too involved or should it escalate to the highest level and threatened to use nuclear weapons? Truman wasn't ready to commit trips just five years earlier. American troops arrived home. He wasn't sure if they are ready to fight another war especially in a region of the world that most Americans knew little about but he did order American air and sea forces to provide the Koreans with cover and support with general. Douglas Macarthur America's supreme commander in Japan leading the effort then Truman decided to go to the United Nations for a resolution to intervene June twenty seven the UN complied UN resolution eighty-three called for member states to furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and restore international peace and security in the area at this point with American naval and air forces on the way the logical step would seem to be for Truman to ask Congress for a declaration of war against North Korea. But for some reason Truman and MS advisors hadn't really considered this talking about a congressional declaration. Truman aide George Elsey said quote. Nobody thought of it at the time and he added that they were quote too busy thinking of military action and United Nations action to try to cover up their tracks with congressional resolutions. Truman seemed to believe that getting a UN authorization was sufficient to take action and superseded Congressional Declaration of war. This was despite the fact that the US Constitution explicitly granted the power to declare war to Congress. But for Truman going to Congress would be too much trouble. It may also have been the sense of urgency the exigencies of the time when the presence of nuclear weapons meant that the president had to take action within minutes or seconds of the start of crisis to him. Congress was more of a stumbling block to defending America's national security. Truman was also careful in how he framed conflict. Even though it seemed that America was about to engage in hostilities abroad. Truman was soon explaining to Congress that quote. We are not at war instead. He used the term police action. This signaled a new era. In American Military History United States military was engaging in hostilities abroad. As part of an international coalition hostilities but was not technically in a war. Although terminent I hope to avoid the introduction of ground troops that changed very quickly. Macarthur was now convinced that air and naval power wouldn't be enough to repel the North Koreans on June thirtieth he requested to divisions of Combat Forces for a moment. Truman agonized over the decision. He knew what this meant. It meant that just five years after the end of World War. Two he would be sending American men into combat. Once again America would be at war whether or not it would be called a police action. You have to imagine what this meant. The country was war-weary and now the president was asking them to bear the burden of another conflict. This time in a place where they weren't directly attacked where it wasn't clear that America had a direct stake. Most Americans had had very little knowledge of Korea or new any Koreans. Now they were being asked to go to war again for their sons to fight and die there in one letter. An American citizen wrote to Truman. Quote in Heaven's name. What are you doing? The blood hasn't dried from world war. Two Truman later said that approving MacArthur's request was the hardest decision of his presidency. Pretty amazing considering that he decided to drop the bomb in Japan to develop the hydrogen bomb into confront stolen in Berlin. But he did approve. The request AUREA is a small country thousands of miles away. But what is happening? There is important to every American on Sunday. June twenty fifth Communist forces attacked the Republic of Korea. Free nations must be on their guard more than ever before against this kind of sneak attack. We are united into testing communist slavery. We know that the cost of freedom is high but we are determined to preserve our freedom no matter what the calls. The seriousness of the situation unified the country. Democrats and Republicans in general closed ranks behind Truman. Even his strategy was being abandoned. Kenan also fell into line despite this not. Everyone was thrilled with the way. Truman entered the conflict. Senator Taft criticized Truman's refusal to ask for a declaration of war saying the president had quote no legal authority for what he has done. Subsequent presidents have followed from example Lyndon Johnson did not request a declaration of war when he intervened Vietnam nor did both bushes in their respective invasions of Iraq to some. This is a reality of the cold. War Were International. Crises in the Nuclear Age cannot wait for the slow deliberation of Congress to others. This is a presidential usurpation of Congress's constitutional powers. That debate continues to this day. I'm not going to get too much into the specifics of the war. Except for a few points. The first few months were devastating for the American lead. You enforces the South Koreans. It was a hot humid summer. Americans were unfamiliar with the climate and the terrain. They were literally stuck in the mud. Drenched by the monsoons. They're also outnumbered. The North Koreans were ninety thousand strong while the South Koreans had twenty five thousand men and the Americans had ten thousand macarthur was forced into a massive retreat and began desperately requesting for a massive increase of troops truman and his advisors faced an agonizing choice. Here they were in charge of the most powerful nation on earth. They have the atomic bomb at their disposal. Korea was just a relatively small peninsula. They defeated the Nazis and the Japanese. Just a few years earlier. Surely the North Koreans wouldn't be a problem but America's rapid demobilization after World War. Two had left the military unprepared. There was a reason why. Nfc Sixty eight requested a tripling of the defense budget. Demobilization had decimated America's defense by July one thousand nine hundred fifty. Truman had decided to implement. Nfc Sixty eight. The defense budget would increase dramatically. Originally the Truman Administration had requested thirteen billion dollars in defense for nineteen fifty by nineteen fifty. Two it would reach sixty billion. Strong point defense was dead. Perimeter defense was in economic aid. Wasn't enough America's Cold War policy had to be militarized? And here's where you see Truman shift to a new viewpoint rather than fearing bankrupting the US Treasury with a defense buildup. He now believed that the American economy could sustain it when he was a senator. He was a loyal new dealer and believed that government's spending could stimulate the economy classic Keynesian economics but instead of domestic spending as a stimulus it would now be defense. Spending many had argued that the economic growth in World War. Two was proof of this theory since it had resulted in full employment and growth for the country. In addition Truman believed that spinning to prevent Soviet expansion. Now would be less expensive than fighting a war with the Soviets after they expanded when it was in a stronger position. It flipped Kenan's logic his fear bankruptcy on its head as Truman said in. Nineteen fifty two. The real threat to our security isn't the danger of bankruptcy. It is the danger of communist aggression if communism is allowed to absorb the free nations one by one. Then we would be isolated from our sources of supply and attached from our friends. Then we would have to take defense measures that might really bankrupt our economy and change our way of life so that we couldn't recognize it as American any longer. Let's the very thing we're trying to keep from happening. Meanwhile America had warrants hands in Korea. Even if it didn't want to call it a war and many felt now that we were in a war in Korea that we should go all out for victory at the same time the. Us had the atomic bomb. Many asked if we wanted to win. Why not use it? If we relied on conventional forces alone we would end up losing more American lives today. Some people might recoil in horror at this thought. But it's a hard thought to avoid now that we were in war and we're sending our finest overseas once again many asked why not use every weapon in our arsenal. There were obvious complications. The Soviets had the bomb as well and the Korean conflict wasn't just about Korea or even the United States the North Koreans were propped up by the Soviets Stalin had actually signed off on their invasion. They were using soviet-built tanks if the US use nuclear weapons against them with that causes Soviets responding kind. Would they be tempted to support their ally? The way that we were supporting South Korea could all this quickly escalate into a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Might it lead to world war three and a nuclear exchange. This was a fear. Even if we didn't use the bomb would a massive conventional invasion of North Korea trigger Soviet response with the Soviets still come to the aid of the Koreans and then there were the Chinese? And it's brand new communist regime under mousy Dong. They shared a border with North Korea. Would they feel threatened by an American invasion right at their border with? They join in with their fellow. Communists in Moscow in response. It quickly became clear that the conflict in Korea had broader geopolitical implications. Now that American the Soviets had the bomb. Every decision was somehow related to that. Broader context could a conflict in a random region of the world lead to a world war. Now there were a lot of steps between a military action that involves conventional forces and a nuclear war. Some argue that this was oversimplifying situation. That you just can't use the specter of World War three in every decision. You make as commander in chief to justify whatever you want including going to war without congressional authorization. This was a fair point. But I also think it's important to know that many of these policymakers had lived through World War One which began by the assassination of one person and it spread to a global war. There was a fear that one small spark could spiral out of control and in those situations. It's not a shock to see people fearful of consequences and grasping at ways to control events before they got worse. The North Korean forces had momentum on their side they push macarthur and his men all the way down to the southernmost part of the Korean Peninsula in the city of Pusan. It was desperation time. It was in the situation. That MacArthur hatched a daring plan to break out of Pusan by leading an amphibious landing in. Inchon behind enemy lines. Inchon was risky. It had high tides and a sea wall. In fact mccarthur even said that the odds of success where five thousand to one but he went for it on September Fifteenth Nineteen Forty Nine Macarthur began his invasion. He landed on Inchon completely surprising. North Koreans within a couple of days in Sean fell to you and forces in less than two weeks soul fell by October. All of South Korea was liberated is one of the most brilliant and heroic turnarounds in military history. Macarthur was a national hero. It looked like Truman's containment policy had new life but the question remained. How hard should America Push? Macarthur was itching to invade the northern half of the peninsula and liberate it from the yoke of communism but many feared that this would provoke either the Soviets or the communist Chinese respond. Truman decided to risk it. He ordered MacArthur to continue past the thirty eighth parallel into North Korea. So long as he didn't enter Chinese territory on October. Nine thousand nine hundred fifty macarthur crossed the thirty eighth. It was a fateful decision on October. Twenty fifth over two hundred thousand Chinese troops entered North Korea. Truman's nightmare had begun. The police action in Korea had now expanded what had first begun as a civil war. Between North and South Korea now saw combat between the United States and Communist China. The most powerful nation in the world was fighting the most populous nation in the world. Soon the winner set in American forces were now stuck in Subzero temperatures MacArthur's daring offensive grounded to a halt. Truman was shocked and despondent at the turn of events. He was under more stress than at any point in his presidency. One eight described his state in the following terms quote. His mouth drew tight. His cheeks flushed for a moment. It almost seemed as if he would sob then. A voice that was incredibly calm and quiet considering what could be read on his face. Voice of absolute personal courage. He said this is the worst situation we've had yet. We'll just have to meet it as we've met all the rest. The Truth Administration had two big worries. The first was that it would get bogged down in Korea in a stalemate Truman and his advisors feared that this was all a Soviet trap to get the US into an unwinnable war but to pull out would be to risk American credibility so early in the Cold War if the US left and let South Korea fall to the communists containment might receive a heavy blow. The second was that if the US tried to fight back it might cause a major escalation that could provoke the Soviet Union. And this is where you see the American people turn on Harry. Truman had supported him at the start of the Korean War but military stalemates in far off. Lands are never popular. And that's exactly what this look like a stalemate. Truman's approval ratings wants above eighty percent at the end of World War. Two were falling down to thirty percent. Even twenty percent General Macarthur could not accept the state of affairs. Chinese invasion forced him into a humiliating retreat. The gains of his daring offensive at Inchon were being raised. While Truman feared a widening of the war macarthur had no such concerns. He wanted victory and he felt humiliated. When commentators in the American media began questioning his leadership macarthur began lashing out in the press and began to threaten to unilaterally expand the war into China maybe even toppling mouth government even hinted that nuclear weapons might be used in China in hindsight. It seems incredibly alarming. There's some people to threaten to use nuclear weapons but again if you think about what? They were experiencing. It's a hard question to avoid. The Americans were getting bogged down in a bloody war in a relatively small country. They are a proud superpower. The proud victor of World War. Two in yet here. They were unable to accomplish their objective. As the body count piled up some Americans felt. Well we have the atomic bomb the most powerful bomb in history. Why not use it? It's hard to imagine not being at least tempted by thought but Harry. Truman kept reminding himself of what this meant. As the first and only man to ever order a nuclear attack against another country. He didn't WANNA use nuclear weapons again. He knew not only the destruction it would unleash. But also the impact it would have on American prestige then and throughout all of history. And he wasn't going to do anything to provoke conflict with the leader of the Communist world the Soviet Union. Truman determined to walk a fine line. He decided to keep the Korean war limited conflict. It was a new type of war. One that would be repeated several times throughout American history. When tested the patience of the American people. It was a frustrating war in that the United States was fighting where it sons were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice but its leaders didn't appear willing to use the full range of capabilities to achieve victory while Truman was walking a tightrope prosecuting a war. But limiting its scope macarthur was making provocative comments that threatened to undermine the administration's careful strategy and risk a broader war. It was not only danger to Truman's war plans but also to his control over the military in April of Nineteen fifty one. Harry Truman fired. Douglas mccarthur General Matthew. Ridgway would take his place. What would suit? The ambitions of the Kremlin better than for our military forces to be committed to a full-scale war with red. It may well be that. In spite of our best efforts communists may spread the war but it would be wrong tragically role for us to take initiative in extending the wall. I've thought long and hard about this question of extending the war in Asia. I have discussed it many times. Or The ablest military advisors in the country I believe with all my heart that the course we are following is the best course a number of events of made it evident that General McArthur did not agree with that policy. I have therefore considered it. Essential to relieve General Macarthur. So that there would be no daughter confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy. It was the deepest personal regret that I find myself compelled to take this action. Gentle MacArthur is one of our greatest military commanders but the cause of world peace is much more important than any individual. Truman paid a price for the firing for many macarthur was the only hope the US had in winning the war. President Shri seem to be content with a bloody stalemate. His popularity was down to twenty six percent to this day. One of the lowest in American history general ridgway manage to salvage the war effort but the stalemate resumed and the fighting continued by the end of nineteen fifty one thirteen thousand American soldiers who died long with eighty thousand total American casualties. Although he had initiated peace talks with North Koreans those talks had broken down polls were indicating that more and more Americans felt intervening in Korea. Had been a mistake. Truman however continued to believe that he had made the right choice. Intervene and to keep the conflict limited for him. It was a thankless task to stop the Communist advance in Asia and the wars limited nature was due to the unique circumstances of the new Cold War era in his typical feisty way Truman said quote. I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt. What would Jesus Christ preached? If he had taken a poll in Israel it isn't polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It's right and wrong by this time. Truman's domestic policies long-stalled. He hoped his administration would be the continuation and fulfillment of the new deal. He called it the fair deal and he had proposed it back in nineteen forty nine. It would include a number of progressive pieces of legislation like universal healthcare but by then with Truman's popularity in the dumps. He no longer had the political capital to push his proposals through. Congress it was so ironic under Truman. The power of the presidency had reached its zenith now that America was a world power and had the atomic bomb in its inventory. Domestically it seemed that Truman was powerless with his approval. Ratings in the dumps Harry. Truman decided not to stand for reelection in one thousand nine hundred eighty two that year. Dwight D EISENHOWER HERO OF WORLD WAR. Two ran as a Republican and defeated the Democratic candidate Ashley. Stevenson Eisenhower ran largely against Truman's policies in Korea and promised that he would negotiate a peace to end the war. He ended up winning a landslide. In the fall of Nineteen fifty-two. He took thirty nine out of forty eight states. Although Truman's second term ended in a military stalemate the country as a whole was prospering. I the economy was growing in record numbers in the aftermath of World War. Two unemployment had been virtually eliminated. Eleven million jobs have been gained in seven years and eight million veterans renowned college but for Truman his biggest legacy had been creating the institutions needed to continue the effort against the Communists. This included a newly organized. Defense Department Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force it also included international institutions like NATO actions including the Marshall Plan aid decrease in Turkey and the Berlin airlift demonstrated American resolve the resolve Americans needed to sustain its effort to contain communism for decades and although the Korean War was unpopular it did at least liberate the southern half of the peninsula preventing it from falling to the Kim Dynasty in doing so truman help save generations of Koreans from decades of suffering. And whatever one can say about his policies. He succeeded in standing up to the Soviets without going to nuclear war history. Put Truman in the White House. At the end of one era and at the beginning of another the defense institutions. He signed into law. Still with us today this most common of men. This accidental president ended up becoming the architect of a new American age five days before Harry. Truman's presidency ended. He went before the American people to deliver his farewell address. Truman knew that his legacy would largely be defined by his decisions relating to the Cold War that confronting Soviet. Communism would require a long-term effort. That would outlast his time in the White House. I suppose that history would remember my term in office as the years when the Cold War began to overshadow our lives. I have had hardly a day in office that has not been dominated by this all embracing struggle this conflict between those who love freedom and those who would lead the world back into slavery and darkness and always in the background. There has been the atomic bomb but von history says that my term about a saw the beginning of the Cold World War. It will also say that in those eight years we have set the course that can win it. We have succeeded in carving out. A new set of policies to fame positive policies have were leadership policies that express faith in other through people. We have averted World War three up to now and we may already have succeeded in establishing conditions. Which can keep that from happening as far ahead as men can see. Truman turned his attention to those. Who BELIEVE THAT. He should have used nuclear weapons in Korea once in a while. I got a letter from some impatient person asking. Why don't we get it over with? Why don't we issue another item MAC? All raw dropped the atomic bomb. Most Americans the answer is quite simple. We're not made that way. We are a moral people. Tease is ARGO. With justice and freedom we cannot of our own free will violates the very principles that we are striving to defend the whole purpose of what we're doing is to prevent world war three. Starting a war is no way to make these but if anyone still thinks that just this once that means can bring good hands then. Let me remind you of this. We are living in the eighth year of the atomic age. We are not only nation that is learning to unleash the power of the atom a third raw law my dig the grave not only of our communist opponents but also of our own society. I rolled as RELA SHARES. Starting atomic war is totally unthinkable. Rational man then. Truman made a prediction. About how the Cold War might turn out then. Some of you may ask women how the cold and I think I can answer that simply. The communist world has great resources and it looks strong but there is a fatal flaw in their society. There's is a godless system. A system of slavery. There is no freedom in it no consent. I'm cutting secret. Police that constant purchase all these symptoms of great basic weakness their rulers fear of their own people in the long run. That's strength of our free society and our ideals will prevail over a system that has respect for neither God nor man last week in my state of the Union message to Congress and I hope you'll always take time to read it. I explain how I think we will. Finally wind through as the free world goes stronger. More united more attracted to men on both sides of the anchor and as a Soviet hopes for easy expansion blah. Then there will have to a time of change in the Soviet world. Nobody can say for sure when that is going to be or exactly how it'll come about. Whether by revolution or trouble in the satellite states are by change inside the Kremlin whether the communist rulership their policies of their own free will of other. The change comes about some other way. I have not a doubt in the world that the change will occur. Truman may have departed from Kenan's vision of containment but his prediction for how the Cold War might end aligned with Kenan's hopes he believed that long-term pressure would expose the failures of the Communist system. And that once those failures would be made clear to its own people and its leaders. The Soviet Union would have to change in essence. Truman was saying that the Soviet Union had an expiration date. He didn't know exactly when that date would be but he knew that it existed thirty two years after president. Truman uttered these words. Mikhail Gorbachev became the Supreme Leader of the Soviet Union by then the Soviet Empire was faltering overextended and its expansion had been blocked by freedom fighters in places like Afghanistan. Uprisings were breaking out in satellite states. Even worse it had been left behind by the technological revolution in the Western world the Soviet people across the empire were disillusioned by decades of false promises. Gorbachev initiated a series of reforms to revitalize the empire but this opened the floodgates of change eventually Gorbachev Lost Control of reform by one thousand nine hundred and nine. The Berlin Wall fell on December twenty fifth nineteen ninety one. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War was over. It may be too much to call Harry Truman. A profit and one can also question whether he was initially naive about cooperation with Stalin. But it can't be denied that after spending much of his presidency thinking of ways to contain communism he understood its nature as well as any American statesman on July twentieth. Nineteen fifty three Harry. Truman left office at the age of sixty eight. He moved back to his hometown of Independence Missouri. He wrote his memoirs and raise money to build his presidential library. Truman lived long enough to see. Eisenhower served two terms and leave office and to see. Jfk Win Johnson. And Richard Nixon become president peeve and saw man walk on the Moon he died on December twenty six thousand nine hundred seventy two at the age of eighty eight at the urging of his widow best. He did not line state but a simple private funeral on the grounds of his presidential library. Near the end of his presidency Truman had a chat with Winston Churchill. The British prime minister reflected back on when Truman took office in one thousand nine forty-five and said quote. I must confess sir. I held you in very low regard. Ben I load. You're taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt. I misjudged you badly since that time. You more than any other man has saved Western civilization that quote in a sense summarizes Harry Truman's presidency when FDR died Americans feared what the future hadn't store. It was a world in ruins from the war with a rising communist threat and the atomic genie released from the bottle. During Truman's term the American people face crises of global proportions Harry. Truman had to make decisions that I would never wish on another person. Different presidents are dealt different hands and Sherman was dealt one of the toughest. No matter what he did he would forever be remembered as the president who ordered the first and so far only two atomic attacks in history he initiated the development of the hydrogen bomb. He committed American troops in a controversial war that ruined his popularity all without a congressional declaration of war. Whatever else he did those decisions will forever influence. How most people see him? I remember in college in Grad School. Hearing my fellow students criticized Truman's decision to drop the bomb to them. It seemed that Truman was reckless and had little understanding of the decisions he was making but to me. This kind of evaluation seems a bit hasty. I've already talked about how the real choice wasn't between using the bomb or not using it but between using the bomb or invading Japan. Both of which were terrible choices but the evidence also seems to indicate that. Truman and his men his advisors did know the significance of what they were doing. They did know that. The atomic age represented something new and dangerous enrolled history. I also remember my grandfather while I was growing up. He would sometimes talk about Truman and he didn't really liked him very much. He was from China. He's passed away since but he a lifelong hatred of the communist Chinese government and he faulted Truman for firing macarthur in not allowing him to liberate North Korea and invade Japan. In his is the last chance to topple. The communist regime was lost under Truman from Truman's perspective he had limited MacArthur's mission for fear of provoking a World War. He feared that the Soviet Union newly armed with nuclear technology would respond or full blown. War would erupt with China for Truman limiting the war meant preventing a Third World War but in doing so he was essentially sacrificing millions North Korea to the yoke of communism these were the agonizing dilemmas. Truman had to face. There is a fair debate about the wisdom of these policies. I've heard many say that America should have gone all out to win the Korean War and others who say we shouldn't have been Korean. The first place others criticize how Truman wage the war they cite the fact that he committed troops to a war without actually declaring a war. They say that this action paved the way for future interventions that ended up being clogged Myers like in Vietnam and Afghanistan and they strengthen executive power to make war a- power that the constitution granted to Congress. There may be validity to this argument depending on where you sit. If there's one thing that I can say it's at these decisions seem easier to make when you don't have the specter of World War three hanging over your head or aren't trying to prevent the advance of a totalitarian state or trying to secure freedom for millions of people all of this ties into another criticism when the ten expressed the idea that Truman expanded America's containment policy beyond what was feasible that he took the original strategy based on managing costs on picking and choosing your battles and expanded it to the point of American over-extension militarizing the nation's foreign policy successor. President Eisenhower would seek to reduce the costs and warned against over extension and ultimately the military industrial complex again. There may be validity to these arguments depending on what you believe but whatever the means were Truman. I believe was sincere in his determination to defend the free world against the communist world all without provoking direct conflict between the superpowers. It was a fine line to walk but he did it as well as anyone could expect from a man with little preparation for the job. It's often said that Truman represented the common man. One critic even said that he was a common man's common man deathly not a compliment. He seemed to many to be remarkable. He was far from perfect. P had a quick temper and was prone to salty language when he left office he was one of the least popular presidents in history but in a recent C-SPAN survey of historians. Truman was ranked the sixth grade as president of all time. Although his decision still provoked controversy. Historians have come to respect Truman sense of history his integrity his determination and his willingness to make difficult decisions historians realized that though common he was he had the gift of something that was often lacking in politics common sense. I've mentioned how much Truman's advisers admired him. These are brilliant men and they were serving a man who had no college education who wants had been a farmer and had salesman but they knew what he was made of. They knew that he was a leader. Truman had earned the respect. I also mentioned Truman's love for his wife Bess. Yes Truman was feisty with a sharp tongue but he also had a strong moral compass. That could never be shaken. One story illustrates is character when the nineteen forty. Eight presidential election was approaching true and was expected to run for his own terms president which eventually ended up doing but before the campaign. He actually offered the top spot on the ticket. To General Eisenhower was enormously popular telling him that he'd be happy to run as his vice president. Mike was rather taken aback by this and swore off any political ambitions illustrated who Harry Truman was. He was still the man he was when he left. Missouri practical home spun and unawed by power. It's hard to imagine any president willing to subordinate himself as Truman was willing to do. Its sometimes easy to look at Truman as a historical accident in some ways he was. It's a bit unsettling to remember that. His elevation to the presidency during such a critical time was not the product of a well thought out process but more due to political convenience he was the first president of the Nuclear Age the first US chief executive to unambiguously be the most powerful man in the world who could alter the destiny of mankind with a single order at the same time. He is likely the last president of his kind. It's hard to imagine another President One without a college degree. Not really looking to seek the office. Someone who looks like a statesman and more like your next door neighbor. Someone like him. It's hard to see rising to the White House anytime soon. Then again. Human events have a way of surprising us even today regardless Americans now seem grateful that such a decisive leader rose during such a decisive time. Harry Truman story is the American story. A former Haberdasher who became president and made decisions that still echo throughout history. It proves once again that the unlikeliest and lease the steamed of men can rise to the heights of power and leave a profound imprint on. The world This American President is produced by myself. Richard Lim and Michael Neale. Thanks to my dad. Burt shoe the music in this episode is by Blue Dot sessions. If you like what you've been hearing you can also help us by sharing episode on twitter or facebook Richard Lamm. We're back next time with more this American press.