How did the Truman Doctrine Foreign Policy relate to the origins of the Cold War and the US policy of containment?

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Answered by: Kelvin, An Expert in the 20th Century History - General Category
The Truman Doctrine Foreign Policy was a mandate established by President Harry Truman on in March, 1947 stating that the United States would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent those countries from falling under the influence of the Soviet Union.

The idea was to “contain” Soviet influence as much as possible. Essentially, this was Truman drawing a line in the sand towards Josef Stalin and Soviet aggression in Eastern Europe. In the document, Truman noted that “it will be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities and outside pressures.”

The intended audience was wide: this was a clear message to the Soviet Union; a message to Europe that the U.S. would not tolerate Soviet aggression; a message to the people of Greece and Turkey that the U.S. would side with them; and a message to Congress and the American people that the U.S. would put in a formal policy to prevent the spread of worldwide communism. This message – to the Soviets to “back off” shaped American Foreign Policy for the next several decades and would result in the Korean War, Vietnam, policies in Asia, Africa and in particular, the stand-off over Cuba in the early 1960s.

We did not know it them, but the real Cold War was fought economically, which country could afford more military might and foreign aid over time. The CIA was the point agency on the Truman Doctrine Foreign Policy, anti-Soviet behavior, containment and intelligence regarding Communism (China, USSR, etc.) and the Indochina/Vietnam situation. Acting under the containment doctrine developed by State Department’s George Kennan, concerns regarding the Soviet Union and the difficulty of getting information from its closed society, which few agents could penetrate, led to solutions based on advanced technology.

Among the first success was with the Lockheed U-2 aircraft, which could take pictures and collect electronic signals from an altitude above Soviet air defenses' reach. After Gary Powers was shot down by an SA-2 surface to air missile in 1960, causing an international incident, a more advanced reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71, was developed to take over this role. During this era, the CIA launched numerous covert actions against resource nationalism and socialism. The CIA overthrew a democratically-elected government for the first time during Operation Ajax, after Iran moved to take control of its petroleum reserves.

Some of the largest operations were aimed at Cuba after the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, including assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. The CIA’s role in Vietnam was focused on anti-Chinese and pro-South Vietnam efforts, however, documents retrieved after the war show that the CIA was far more realistic about the situation in Southeast Asia than either the military or State Department. Still, a number of assassinations and covert actions took place under the CIA’s management. Much of these “black ops,” without oversight, gave the CIA a perceived license to operate outside the channels of normal diplomacy, and thus face a backlash during the next era.

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