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Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Congress of the United States:
The gravity of the situation which confronts the world today necessitates my
appearance before a joint session of the Congress. The foreign policy and the
national security of this country are involved.
The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent appeal for
financial and economic assistance. The United States must supply that
assistance. There is no other country to which democratic Greece can
turn. No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary
support for a democratic Greek government. The British Government,
which has been helping Greece, can give no further financial or economic aid
after March 31.
Greece's neighbor, Turkey, also ... needs our support. As in the
case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance it needs, the United States
must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States
extends assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications
with you at this time.
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is
the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work
out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war
with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to
impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United
States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations, The United
Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all
its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing
to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national
integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them
totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian
regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the
foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had
totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the
United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in
violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also
state that in a number of other countries there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose
between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished
by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of
individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed
upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and
radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free
peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in
their own way.
I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial
aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot
allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United
Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political
infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom,
the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the
It is necessary only to glance at a map to realize that the survival and
integrity of the Greek nation are of grave importance in a much wider situation.
If Greece should fall under the control of an armed minority, the effect upon
its neighbor, Turkey, would be immediate and serious. Confusion and disorder
might well spread throughout the entire Middle East.
Moreover, the disappearance of Greece as an independent state would have a
profound effect upon those countries in Europe whose peoples are struggling
against great difficulties to maintain their freedoms and their independence
while they repair the damages of war.
It would be an unspeakable tragedy if these countries, which have struggled
so long against overwhelming odds, should lose that victory for which they
sacrificed so much. Collapse of free institutions and loss of independence would
be disastrous not only for them but for the world. Discouragement and possibly
failure would quickly be the lot of neighboring peoples striving to maintain
their freedom and independence.
Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful hour, the effect will
be far reaching to the West as well as to the East.
We must take immediate and resolute action.
I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece
and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000 for the period ending June 30, 1948. In
requesting these funds, I have taken into consideration the maximum amount of
relief assistance which would be furnished to Greece out of the $350,000,000
which I recently requested that the Congress authorize for the prevention of
starvation and suffering in countries devastated by the war.
In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to authorize the detail of American
civilian and military personnel to Greece and Turkey, at the request of those
countries, to assist in the tasks of reconstruction, and for the purpose of
supervising the use of such financial and material assistance as may be
furnished. I recommend that authority also be provided for the instruction and
training of selected Greek and Turkish personnel.
Finally, I ask that the Congress provide authority which will permit the
speediest and most effective use, in terms of needed commodities, supplies, and
equipment, of such funds as may be authorized.
If further funds, or further authority, should be needed for purposes
indicated in this message, I shall not hesitate to bring the situation before
the Congress. On this subject the Executive and Legislative branches of the
Government must work together.
This is a serious course upon which we embark.
I would not recommend it except that the alternative is much more serious.
The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II. This
is an investment in world freedom and world peace.
The assistance that I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amounts to little
more than 1 tenth of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense that
we should safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They
spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full
growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their
If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world -- and
we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of
I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely.
Extract from the Modern
History SourceBook (c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997