A sharply drawn contrast study of the twin engines behind America’s post–World War II vision in foreign policy.
In this precise presentation, American Foreign Policy Council senior fellow Haas (Sound the Trumpet: The United States and Human Rights Promotion, 2012, etc.) delineates how the enactment of the four extraordinarily important and lasting postwar feats of foreign policy came about through strenuous bipartisan effort during a most politically partisan time. The creation of the United Nations, the articulation of the Truman Doctrine, the implementation of the Marshall Plan, and the forging of the North Atlantic Treaty were all envisioned and put in place during the (mostly early) years of President Harry Truman’s administration, with the indispensable help of the key Republican senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, Arthur Vandenberg. Haas nicely compares the two men’s parallel Midwest upbringings—both born in 1884—and how, though they came to embrace politics in different ways, they converged in similar visions of America’s need for postwar engagement—i.e., to lead the embattled free world in defiance of the Soviet Union’s aggression. While Vandenberg had been a fervent isolationist, the bombing of Pearl Harbor changed his mind, while Truman, reluctantly inheriting the presidential mantle with the death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945, resolved to carry forth his predecessor’s vision of the U.N. while also learning intimately of the devastation of Europe and thrusts of Soviet expansion. Not only were the people of Europe starving and incapacitated on all social and economic levels, but also the bankrupt British could no longer support Greece and Turkey, both of which were beset by Soviet-led insurgencies. Into this perilous international vacuum Truman stepped boldly, with his engagement vision to help rebuild Europe’s economy and keep the Soviet predators at bay. Throughout, he was aided by the tireless selling of his policies in a hostile Congress by Vandenberg and his cohorts.
A well-forged thesis builds a strong argument for the ongoing significance of this foreign policy.