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The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53

3. A New National Security State

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the three central pillars of Truman’s foreign policy – the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the National Security Act of 1947 – focusing in particular on: (i) the British announcement in February 1946 that they would withdrawing military aid from Greece and Turkey by the end of March; (ii) the Truman Doctrine speech of 12 March 1947, which proposed $400 million in aid to Turkey and Greece; (iii) the Marshall Plan, which proposed billions of dollars in economic assistance to help rebuild the economies of Western Europe; (iv) the importance of George Kennan’s ‘X Letter’, published in July 1947; (v) the National Security Act of 1947, which created the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); (vi) the Berlin Crisis of 1948-49 and the Berlin Airlift; (vii) the foundation of NATO; (vii) two major setbacks in 1949: the detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb and the fall of China to Communism; (viii) NSC-68, which increased military spending in the US to $50 billion a year; and (ix) the Korean War.


In this course, Professor Mark White (Queen Mary University of London) explores the presidency of Harry Truman (1945-53). In the first module, we think about Truman’s rise to power and how he became President in April 1945. In the second, we think about his attitude towards the Soviet Union, before turning in the third to his transformation of the US national security system with the launch of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, as well as the National Security Act 1947. In the fourth and fifth modules, we turn from foreign policy to domestic policy, thinking first about McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and then about other aspects of Truman’s domestic policy, including his response to the strike wave of 1945-46 and his Fair Deal.


Mark White is Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in US foreign policy in the Cold War and the US presidency since 1945. His recent publications include Against the President: Dissent and Decision-Making in the White House (2007) and The Presidency of Bill Clinton: The Legacy of a New Domestic and Foreign Policy (2012)

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, M. (2019, December 19). The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 - A New National Security State [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

White, M. "The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 – A New National Security State." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Dec 2019,