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Truman Signs the North Atlantic Treaty

Truman Signs the North Atlantic Treaty

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On April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed by 12 Western democracies, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). President Harry Truman speaks at the signing ceremony on the significance of the new military alliance the first ever made during peacetime.

17. The major motive of the Truman Doctrine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was to O protect the western hemisphere from further colonization overthrow the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union contain the spread of communism in the post World War II Europe encourage summit meetings with the Soviet Union

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judaism, christianity and islam, are all abrahamic religions and therefore have in common the hebrew idea of a single god which is the source of all morality. the idea of the covenant is only related to judaism, while dharma is a concept of indian religions and the four noble truths are basic principles of buddhism.

"the sepoy rebellion was the result of many, many influences and stressors on the cultures of india living under british rule. in britain, it's called the sepoy mutiny on the indian mutiny, but in india, it's called the first war of independence.

the main reason is concerned to the british paramountcy , the belief in british dominance in india political, economic and cultural life had been introduced in india about 1820."

"they were forced to grow crops that benefited the colonizing nations instead of feeding their own people."

Activity 2. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Finally, students will consider the North Atlantic Treaty. Have them read the following documents pertaining to the NATO alliance, available from the EDSITEment reviewed resources the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, the Truman Presidential Library, and Teaching American History. Excerpts are available on pages 7–10 of the Text Document.

To guide their reading, students will answer the following questions, available in worksheet form on page 11 of the Text Document.

  • According to the preamble, what did the signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty have in common, that might serve as a basis for their coming together?
  • What did this treaty obligate its signatories to do?
  • According to the terms of the treaty, how could additional nations be added to the alliance?
  • Why did President Truman believe that the United States should sign the North Atlantic Treaty?
  • What did Senator Taft fear would be the Soviet Union's response to the alliance?
  • On what other grounds did Senator Taft oppose U.S. involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty?

When they have finished, teachers should lead an in-class discussion in which students imagine that they are U.S. citizens in 1948. They should be asked to evaluate the arguments of both Truman and Taft.

After completing this lesson, students should be able to write brief (1–2 paragraph) essays answering the following questions:

  • What led the Soviet Union to blockade West Berlin? Was Stalin justified in taking this action?
  • What was Truman's response to the Berlin blockade and how effective was it?
  • What was the North Atlantic Treaty? Do you think that it was wise for the United States to join it? Why or why not?

If teachers have used this lesson plan as part of the curriculum unit on the Origins of the Cold War, it might be useful to have students complete the worksheet that is available on page 12 of the Text Document. In so doing they will show their understanding of how developments in Europe led to certain U.S. responses, and how those responses had the cumulative effect of drawing the United States into European affairs to an unprecedented extent.

Alternatively, more advanced students might be asked to write an essay in response to the following question: "Was deeper U.S. involvement in European affairs inevitable in the aftermath of World War II? Why or why not?"

The EDSITEment-reviewed site of the Truman Presidential Library contains an outstanding collection of oral histories related to the Berlin Airlift. Teachers who have additional time to devote to this incident might have students read one or more of these accounts of particular interest are the recollections of Konrad Adenauer, who would go on to be Chancellor of West Germany and Lucius Clay, who served as military governor of the U.S. zone of occupation in Germany during the critical period 1947–1949. These could be used as the basis for a discussion regarding the different ways in which each participant recalled the events of this critical period. The comparison between the recollections of Adenauer, postwar Germany's most important statesman, and Clay, an American general, should be particularly illustrative.

The Truman Presidential Library site also has a considerable number of photographs of the Berlin Airlift in action. These are particularly useful in illustrating the challenges that pilots faced, and the gratitude that West Berliners felt toward them.

Teachers who have used all three lessons in this unit might wish to have students construct a timeline of the events of the early Cold War. An online template for this is available at Read-Write-Think. An excellent source of information to help students fill in the gaps is "Cold War Policies, 1945–1991," which is accessible via the EDSITEment-reviewed resource History Matters.

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The treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949 by a committee which was chaired by US diplomat Theodore Achilles. Earlier secret talks had been held at the Pentagon between 22 March and 1 April 1948, of which Achilles said:

The talks lasted about two weeks and by the time they finished, it had been secretly agreed that there would be a treaty, and I had a draft of one in the bottom drawer of my safe. It was never shown to anyone except Jack [Hickerson]. I wish I had kept it, but when I left the Department in 1950, I dutifully left it in the safe and I have never been able to trace it in the archives. It drew heavily on the Rio Treaty, and a bit of the Brussels Treaty, which had not yet been signed, but of which we were being kept heavily supplied with drafts. The eventual North Atlantic Treaty had the general form, and a good bit of the language of my first draft, but with a number of important differences. [1]

According to Achilles, another important author of the treaty was John D. Hickerson:

More than any human being Jack was responsible for the nature, content, and form of the Treaty. It was a one-man Hickerson treaty. [1]

As a fundamental component of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty is a product of the US' desire to avoid overextension at the end of World War II, and consequently pursue multilateralism in Europe. [2] It is part of the US' collective defense arrangement with Western European powers, following a long and deliberative process. [3] The treaty was created with an armed attack by the Soviet Union against Western Europe in mind, but the mutual self-defense clause was never invoked during the Cold War. Rather, it was invoked for the first and only time in 2001 during Operation Eagle Assist in response to the September 11 attacks.

By signing the North Atlantic Treaty, parties are "determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of the peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law." [4]

Founding members Edit

The following twelve states signed the treaty and thus became the founding members of NATO. The following leaders signed the agreement as plenipotentiaries of their countries in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949: [5] [6]

  • Belgium – Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak and Ambassador Baron Robert Silvercruys [de]
  • Canada – Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson and Ambassador H. H. Wrong
  • Denmark – Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen and Ambassador Henrik Kauffmann
  • France – Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and Ambassador Henri Bonnet
  • Iceland – Foreign Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Ambassador Thor Thors
  • Italy – Foreign Minister Carlo Sforza and Ambassador Alberto Tarchiani
  • Luxembourg – Foreign Minister Joseph Bech and Ambassador Hugues Le Gallais [lb]
  • Netherlands – Foreign Minister Dirk Stikker and Ambassador Eelco van Kleffens
  • Norway – Foreign Minister Halvard M. Lange and Ambassador Wilhelm von Munthe af Morgenstierne
  • Portugal – Foreign Minister José Caeiro da Mata [pt] and Ambassador Pedro Teotónio Pereira
  • United Kingdom – Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and Ambassador Oliver Franks, Baron Franks
  • United States – Secretary of State Dean Acheson

Later members Edit

The following 18 states joined the treaty after the 12 founding states:

  • Greece (joined in 1952) [N 1]
  • Turkey (joined in 1952)
  • Germany (joined in 1955) [N 2]
  • Spain (joined in 1982)
  • Czechia (joined in 1999)
  • Hungary (joined in 1999)
  • Poland (joined in 1999)
  • Bulgaria (joined in 2004)
  • Estonia (joined in 2004)
  • Latvia (joined in 2004)
  • Lithuania (joined in 2004)
  • Romania (joined in 2004)
  • Slovakia (joined in 2004)
  • Slovenia (joined in 2004)
  • Albania (joined in 2009)
  • Croatia (joined in 2009)
  • Montenegro (joined in 2017)
  • North Macedonia (joined in 2020)

Article 1 of the treaty states that member parties "settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." [4]

Members seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area through preservation of peace and security in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. [4]

The treaty includes Article 4, which calls for consultation over military matters when "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened." [7]

It has been invoked four times by Turkey: in 2003 over the Iraq War, in June 2012 after the shooting down of a Turkish military jet by Syria, in October 2012 after Syrian attacks on Turkey and their counterattacks, and in February 2020 amid increasing tensions as part of the Northwestern Syria offensive. [8] [9]

An Article 4 meeting was invoked by Latvia, [10] Lithuania, [11] and Poland [12] in March 2014 as a response to the extraterritorial Crimean crisis.

Turkey announced plans to convoke under Article 4 an extraordinary meeting on 28 July 2015, ostensibly in response to the 2015 Suruç bombing, which it attributed to ISIS, and other security issues along its southern border. [7] [13] A press statement released by the Alliance declared that "Turkey requested the meeting in view of the seriousness of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days, and also to inform allies of the measures it is taking." [7] The US announced through The New York Times on 27 July that it had already agreed "in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border. long-range artillery could be used across the border." [14] Concerns were expressed that the plan would put allied warplanes closer than ever to areas that Syrian aircraft regularly bomb the plan did not determine the reaction if Syrian warplanes attack allied personnel on the ground in what is Syrian territory. [14] Turkish Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the operations will continue as long as Turkey faces a threat, and discussed the situation with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call over the weekend of 26 July. [7] The US said that Turkey "has a right to take action" against the PKK, a Kurdish insurrectionary group that has sought since 1984 autonomy from Turkey. [7] A news report also disclosed prior to the 28 July meeting that Turkey had violated Iraqi airspace in its pursuit of the PKK. [7]

The key section of the treaty is Article 5. Its commitment clause defines the casus foederis. It commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, to be an armed attack against them all.

It has been invoked only once in NATO history: by the United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001. [15] [16] The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001, when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. [17] The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the 9/11 attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean which was designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, as well as enhancing the security of shipping in general. Active Endeavour began on 4 October 2001. [18] It is a common misconception that NATO involvement in Afghanistan was a result of Article 5's invocation. [ citation needed ]

In April 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan considered invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty to protect Turkish national security in a dispute over the Syrian Civil War. [19] [20] The alliance responded quickly and a spokesperson said the alliance was "monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to do so" and "takes it very seriously protecting its members." [21] On 17 April, Turkey said it would raise the issue quietly in the next NATO ministerial meeting. [22] On 29 April, the Syrian foreign ministry wrote that it had received Erdoğan's message, which he had repeated a few days before, loud and clear. [23] On 25 June, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister said that he intended to raise Article 5 [24] at a specially-convened NATO meeting [25] because of the downing of an "unarmed" Turkish military jet which was "13 sea miles" from Syria over "international waters" on a "solo mission to test domestic radar systems". [26] A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that the plane was "flying at an altitude of 100 meters inside the Syrian airspace in a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty" and that the "jet was shot down by anti-aircraft fire," the bullets of which "only have a range of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles)" rather than by radar-guided missile. [27] On 5 August, Erdoğan stated, "The tomb of Suleyman Shah [in Syria] and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavorable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land. Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary." [28] NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen later said in advance of the October 2012 ministerial meeting that the alliance was prepared to defend Turkey, and acknowledged that this border dispute concerned the alliance, but underlined the alliance's hesitancy over a possible intervention: "A military intervention can have unpredicted repercussions. Let me be very clear. We have no intention to interfere militarily [at present with Syria]." [29] On 27 March 2014, recordings were released on YouTube [30] of a conversation purportedly involving then Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, then National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, and Deputy Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Güler. The recording has been reported as being probably recorded at Davutoğlu's office at the Foreign Ministry on 13 March. [31] Transcripts of the conversation reveal that as well as exploring the options for Turkish forces engaging in false flag operations inside Syria, the meeting involved a discussion about using the threat to the tomb as an excuse for Turkey to intervene militarily inside Syria. Davutoğlu stated that Erdoğan told him that he saw the threat to the tomb as an "opportunity". [ citation needed ]

Prior to the meeting of Defence Ministers and recently appointed Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at Brussels in late June 2015, [32] [33] it was stated by a journalist, who referenced an off-the-record interview with an official source, that "Entirely legal activities, such as running a pro-Moscow TV station, could become a broader assault on a country that would require a NATO response under Article Five of the Treaty. A final strategy is expected in October 2015." [34] In another report, the journalist reported that "as part of the hardened stance, the UK has committed £750,000 of its money to support a counter-propaganda unit at NATO's headquarters in Brussels." [35]

Article 6 states that the treaty covers only member states' territories in Europe and North America, and islands in the North Atlantic north of the Tropic of Cancer, plus French Algeria. It was the opinion in August 1965 of the US State Department, the US Defense Department and the legal division of NATO that an attack on the U.S. state of Hawaii would not trigger the treaty, but an attack on the other 49 would. [36]

On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which includes troops from 42 countries. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two states leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO's history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area. [37]

Three official footnotes have been released to reflect the changes made since the treaty was written:


In the euphoria of the end of World War II, western arsenals dropped down to a dangerous level of weakness and being worn-out. Public funds were, by priority, allocated to reconstruction. Even the US arsenal showed obvious signs of shortages and decay. [note 1]

Military officials began calling for the introduction of a new defense legislation in 1947, arguing that depleted inventories of surplus World War II-vintage armaments, piecemeal planning of new armaments and restrictions on presidential authority threatened current and future efforts to arm allied nations. New legislation became a necessity by mid-1948 with the negotiation of the North Atlantic Treaty and the necessity to provide military aid to strengthen the connectional defenses, having in mind a global resistance to Communist expansion of the signatories.

Truman sent a first bill to Congress on 25 July 1949, the day he ratified the North Atlantic Treaty but congressional opposition forced submission of a new legislation, which specified the recipients and the amounts of assistance. Administration planners believed the MDAA's immediate effects would be to raise the morale of friendly nations and prove US reliability and resolve to meet Communist worldwide threats. The MDAA also institutionalized the concept of specific military aid programs, a result ensured by adoption of similar legislation in 1950 and an increase in annual spending on military aid to $5.222 billion after the outbreak of the Korean War - the very first large scale test of the validity and practicability of the concept, if excepting the logistical support allowed to France during the Indochina War.

The Mutual Defense Assistance Act created the "Mutual Assistance Program," which became an integral component in the federal government's policy of containment of Soviet expansion. This program differed from the World War II-era Lend-Lease program in that it never needed refunding from the country that benefits any military assistance. Between 1950 and 1967, $33.4 billion in arms and services and $3.3 billion worth of surplus weaponry were provided under the program.

American Experience

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security.

They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty:

Article 1
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Article 2
The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.

Article 3
In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.

Article 4
The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually, and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Article 6
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

- On the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of Turkey or on the islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer

- On the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Article 7
The Treaty does not effect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting, in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 8
Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any other of the Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty, and undertakes not to enter into any international engagement in conflict with this Treaty.

Article 9
The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organized as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary in particular it shall establish immediately a defense committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.

Article 10
The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

Article 11
This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the United States of America, which will notify all the other signatories of each deposit. The Treaty shall enter into force between the States which have ratified it as soon as the ratification of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications.

Article 12
After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, or at any time thereafter, the Parties shall, if any of them so requests, consult together for the purpose of reviewing the Treaty, having regard for the factors then affecting peace and security in the North Atlantic area including the development of universal as well as regional arrangements under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 13
After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.

Article 14
This Treaty, of which the English and French texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies will be transmitted by that government to the governments of the other signatories.

General Dwight Eisenhower

General Eisenhower became the first SACEUR in December 1950, based at SHAPE. He had been a face of the Allied war effort during the Second World War and was unanimously selected as the first occupant of the post. He set about the herculean task of forming a new command and convincing Allied leaders, including his own country's politicians, of supplying men and materials to ensure collective defence. Eisenhower met with policymakers who were often war-weary and suspicious, and through personal clout and substantial argument, convinced them of the need to bolster NATO's European defences across the entire continent. The early months of SHAPE saw the influence of the United States in developing a fully integrated command structure. General Eisenhower stated:

If SHAPE succeeds, it will be a model for future cooperation, and even if it fails, we should know the reasons why.

The earliest arrivals formed the "US Advance Planning Group, SHAPE", which was renamed the "SHAPE Planning Group" when the 11 other NATO members sent officers to participate. But by March 1951, 101 of the 150 officers at SHAPE were Americans. As their commander, Eisenhower was a convincing negotiator and skilled politician, securing the foundation of European security for decades.

Hear about NATO’s defences from the General himself (below) and more on his time as SACEUR.

Make the right move.

In 2005, soon after the re-election of President George W. Bush, and two years into the war in Iraq, Rachel Kleinfeld and Matthew Spence founded the Truman National Security Project. They understood the need for an organization that brought together people who were interested in US national security and in human rights and rule of law.

In 2013, we launched our sister organization, the Truman Center for National Policy, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit research institution. The non-partisan Truman Center is devoted to research on our priority areas of climate change, countering disinformation, and improving our national security institutions.

Truman Faced Communist Fears, Real or Imagined

And this is Phil Murray with THE MAKING OF A NATION, a VOA Special English program about the history of the United States.

Before the election of 1948, Harry Truman sometimes was called an accidental president. That meant the citizens had not elected him to lead the nation. He became America's thirty-third president because he was vice president when Franklin Roosevelt died. Today, we tell about President Truman and events during his second term in office.

In 1948, Harry Truman had been America's leader for more than three years. The people now voted for his return to office. They chose him over Republican Party candidate, Thomas Dewey, governor of New York. The voters also elected a Congress with a majority from Mr. Truman's Democratic Party.

The president might have expected such a Congress to support his policies. It did not, however, always support him. Time after time, Democrats from the southern part of the United States joined with conservative Republicans in voting. Together, these lawmakers defeated some of Truman's most important proposals. This included a bill for health care insurance for every American.

Fear of communism was a major issue during Truman's second term. After World War Two, Americans watched as communists took control of one east European nation after another. They watched as China became communist. They watched as the leader of the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin, made it clear that he wanted communists to rule the world.

At this tense time, there were charges that communists held important jobs in the government of the United States. Many citizens accepted the charges. The fear of communism, real or imagined, threatened the American legal tradition that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

A Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, led the search for communists in America. In speeches and congressional hearings, he accused hundreds of people of being communists or communist supporters. His targets included the Department of State, the Army and the entertainment industry in Hollywood.

Senator McCarthy often had little evidence to support his accusations. Many of his charges would not have been accepted in a court of law. But the rules governing congressional hearings were different. So he was able to make his accusations freely.

Some people denounced as communists lost their jobs. Some had to use false names to get work. A few went to jail briefly for refusing to cooperate with him.

Joseph McCarthy continued his anti-communist investigations for several years. By the early 1950s, more people began to question his methods. Critics said he had violated democratic traditions. In 1954, the Senate voted to condemn his actions. Soon after, he became sick with cancer, and his political life ended. He died in 1957.

In addition to the problems caused by the fear of communism at home, President Truman had to deal with the threat of communism in other countries.

He agreed to send American aid to Greece and Turkey. He also supported continuing the Marshall Plan. This plan had helped rebuild the economies of Western Europe after World War Two. Historians agree that it prevented Western Europe from becoming communist.

The defense of Western Europe against communism led president Truman to support the North Atlantic Treaty. This treaty formed NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in 1949. In the beginning, NATO included the United States, Britain, Canada, France and eight other nations. More nations joined later.

The NATO treaty stated that a military attack on any member would be considered an attack on all of them.

Truman named General Dwight Eisenhower to be supreme commander of the new organization. General Eisenhower had been supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe in World War Two.

President Truman believed that other problems in the world could be settled by cooperative international efforts. In his swearing-in speech in 1949, he urged the United States to lend money to other countries to aid their development. He also wanted to share American science and technology.

Months later, Congress approved twenty-five thousand million dollars for the first part of this program.

In 1951, President Truman asked Congress to establish a new foreign aid program. The aid was for some countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, East Asia and South Asia, and Latin America. These countries were threatened by communist forces. President Truman believed the United States would be stronger if its allies were stronger.

Harry Truman supported and used military power throughout his presidency.

On June twenty-fifth, 1950, forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. Two days later, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution on the conflict. It urged UN members to help South Korea resist the invasion. President Truman approved sending American planes and ships. Then he approved sending American ground forces.

The president knew his decision could start World War Three if the Soviet Union entered the war on the side of North Korea. Yet he felt the United States had to act. Later, he said it was the most difficult decision he made as president.

General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all United Nations forces in South Korea. By the autumn of 1950, the UN forces had pushed the North Koreans back across the border. People talked hopefully of ending the war by the Christmas holiday on December twenty-fifth.

In late November, however, troops from China joined the North Koreans. Thousands of Chinese soldiers helped push the UN troops south. General MacArthur wanted to attack Chinese bases in Manchuria. President Truman said no. The fighting must not spread outside Korea. Again he feared that such a decision might start another world war.

General MacArthur believed he could end the war quickly if he could do what he wanted. So he publicly denounced the American policy. In April 1951, the president dismissed him.

Some citizens approved. They believed a military leader must obey his commander in chief. Others, however, supported General MacArthur. Millions greeted him when he returned to the United States.

Most of the fighting in the Korean war took place along the geographic line known as the thirty-eighth parallel. This line formed the border between the North and South. Many victories were only temporary. One side would capture a hill. Then the other side would recapture it.

Ceasefire talks began in July 1951. But the negotiations failed to make progress. By the time the conflict ended two years later, millions of soldiers on both sides had been killed or wounded.

Nineteen fifty-two would be a presidential election year in the United States. Harry Truman was losing popularity because of the Korean War. At the same time, the military hero of World War Two, General Dwight Eisenhower, was thinking about running for president.

The need to make difficult choices had made Harry Truman's presidency among the most decisive in American history. In March, he made another important decision. He announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election.

Truman said: "I have served my country. I do not think it my duty to spend another four years in the White House."

This program of THE MAKING OF A NATION was written by Jeri Watson and produced by Paul Thompson. This is Doug Johnson. And this is Phil Murray. Join us again next week for another VOA Special English program about the history of the United States.

Watch the video: Signing ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC 04 APR 1949 (May 2022).


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