Yuri Ivanovich







INT: You mentioned about Greece and Turkey. Can you just give us an idea of the political effects of Britain being unable to continue helping Greece and Turkey, and the United States taking over that role?

TG: Well, that's... All of these developments are interacting and mutually support one another. The... Let me put it this way. This - from the beginning of February '47 until the beginning of June '47 - is known to American historians as the 15 weeks which changed the orientation of American foreign policy; and in fact a very important book was written in 1955 under the title of 'The Fifteen Weeks' which described it. At the beginning ofFebruary, the British informed the United StateGovernment that they could no longer assu... carry on the responsibility for the economic and military security of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Greece and Turkey. In the United States, this came as a major shock, because in 1946 a Republican Congress had been elected for the first time since 1932, and the Republicans came to power with quite different ideas of what American policy should be, both domestic and foreign. They wanted to reduce taxation, after the heavy taxation of the war; they wanted to abolish the reciprocal trade agreements programme under which the United States had been lowering its tariffs in order to encourage international trade, and instead they wanted to raise tariffs again, go back to the protectionism of the nineteen-twenties. They thought that foreign aid was just a give-away and that money was being thrown down rat-holes in Europe and elsewhere in the world, and so they were determined, in the budget that was going to be passed, their first budget, to cut foreign aid and so on. And this fitted in pretty well with the general sentiment in the United States. Don't forget that the American people had had 10 years of the most severe depression that... of modern times, the Great Depression, the 1930s, in which their own levels of consumption had declined very substantially because they couldn't afford to buy all the things that they wanted and needed during the 1930s. Then came the war, in which their consumption was cut still further, although by then the United States was back to full employment; they were earning good salaries, but they had the money but there were no goods to spend it on. So here everybody in the United States was looking forward to the post-war years in which they could make up all this forgone consumption of the past 15 years. And they didn't, you know... Also, with the demobilisation of the armed forces and the men and women returning home, for the first time the losses of the... the human losses of the war were brought home to the American people. Sure, individual families had been informed of their sons and husbands who had been killed, but the nation as a whole had not been confronted with that. But when the men and women came back home and started talking about the war and what happened during the war and so on, it led to a revival of the pre-war feeling of isolationism: "Why should we get involved in anything that's happening? We've got enough work to do at home to make up for the Great Depression and the war years. We have the right now to enjoy our incomes and be able to buy the things that we wanted. We don't want to see our sons and husbands killed in foreign lands, not defending the United States itself, but in foreign lands," and so on. So the Republicans... that was really what elected the Republicans in '46, and so it fitted in with the temper of the country. The...

INT: Let me just ask you, coming back to Greece and Turkey...

TG: Greece and Turkey...

INT: ... what changed things to stop this (Overlap) drift to isolationism?

TG: What changed it was the fact that...

INT: Can I ask you that again - if you could just pause slightly so that your voice and my voice don't overlap.


INT: And I'll ask you again. Just what stopped the drift into isolationism?

TG: What... The drift into isolationism was stopped by a number of factors. Firstly, however isolationist the American people and the Republican Party were becoming, there was one threat which they all accepted, and that was the threat of Communism. The Greek-Turkey crisis brought home to them the fact that the Communists were continuing to advance, not simply beyond the northern part of the Balkans which the Red Army had occupied and was taking over, but also were trying to take over Greece, where the Communists were in arms against the government; Turkey, where the Soviets had demanded that the Turks give them bases and the Dardanelles which would have enabled them to control the waterway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean; and was also bringing pressure on Iran. And it looked as though the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East would go, to fall under Communist... if not direct control, at least Communist influence during those years. That was a very great shock to the American people. The importance of that was realised by Senator Vandenburg of Michigan, who was the president pro tem of the Senate and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, and he was the man who understood what was at stake, who said, "We have got to reverse this trend toward isolationism. There is too much at stake for the United States to withdraw from its world responsibilities." And he was able to convince his fellow Republicans to go along with the legislation that the President Truman proposed, to provide economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey and on a substantial scale. And that legislation passed in March of... toward the end of March of 1947. So that was a real... a 180-degree change in the orientation of American foreign policy and of the sentiment in the country, because it was generally supported.

INT: What about the public statement, the Truman Doctrine speech itself in March '47 - can you give an idea of the impact that that had?

TG: Well, I personally was in London at the time, so I only know it from what I read in the American newspapers which were sent to us at the Embassy in London. But the editorial support was very strong for the... except in the isolationist press, like the Chicago Tribune, which was a very isolationist Republican paper in those years, and of some other press. But the New York Times, the Washington Post, the major Midwestern and California papers supported the initiative. And I think that the American people began to change their view, and particularly since the stories which they heard from their sons and husbands who had come back from the war, particularly about what the Soviets had done in Eastern and Central Europe as they consolidated their control and so on, helped to change popular sentiment. As far as Government policy was concerned, another major factor was the failure of the conference of foreign ministers in March... February and March of 1947. This meeting was held in Moscow. The foreign ministers of the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union assembled in Moscow, to try to make some decisions about the future of Germany and of Austria - what kind of country Germany was going to be permitted to be; was it going to be unified, was it going to be divided?; how economic policy was going to be made for Germany, and what role Germany would play in Europe, and so on - questions of major importance, and which had not been tackled because of disagreements between the Soviet Union and the Western allies since 1945. Nearly two years had elapsed since the end of the war, and none of these decisions had been made. And so Secretary of State Marshall went to Moscow in February of 1947, somewhat hopeful that now finally some of these decisions could be made. Well, what happened was that the Russians kept stalling. They didn't say no; they kept raising objections to every proposal that the United States and the UK made, but they kind of kept the discussion going without reaching any conclusion. And finally, after about six or seven weeks, both the Americans and the British decided that this was a waste of time. And Marshall made one last effort: he had an interview with Stalin in the Kremlin, and at that interview he kept pushing Stalin to make some decisions, to bring forward proposals of their own that could be discussed and maybe compromised [on], and so on. And Stalin kept saying to Marshall, "Now you Americans are too impatient. You know, just let events take their course. These things will work out," and so on and so forth. And that interview convinced Marshall that what the Soviets were doing were stalling for time in order for the situation in Western and Central Europe to become more and more adverse, so that popular unrest would become greateand greater, the Communists would grow in strength, and that maybe Communist regimes would be... cometo power in Western Europe without the Red Army having to invade or anything else. And Marshall came back from Moscow in... toward the end of March of 1947, and he gave orders in the Department, the State Department, to start preparing some ideas for how to reverse the adverse political and economic trends in Western Europe. So planning began. And we in our mission in London, as well as people in the US embassies all over Western and Central Europe, sent information to the Department in Washington about economic and political conditions, which went into the planning process, and led gradually, in the course of April and May, to the formation of the ideas that eventually went into the Marshall Plan.