Next we come to Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S. Truman. Like Bush,
Truman was at first regarded as a mediocre politician with no
interest in and no grasp of foreign policy. But as he watched the
Soviet Union forcing Communist regimes on more and more countries
in East Europe while also using local Communist parties to subvert
countries in other parts of the world, Truman (again like Bush
after 9/11) amazed everyone by rising to the challenge.
p>It all began on March 12, 1947, when he appealed to Congress for
aid to Greece and Turkey, both of which, he said, were threatened
by Soviet-led “movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian
regimes.” He was, he went on, “fully aware of the broad
implications involved if the United States extends assistance to
Greece and Turkey,” and in spelling these out he enunciated the
main principle of what soon was being called the Truman
blockquote>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.
Our way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is
distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free
elections, guarantees of individual freedom, freedom of speech and
religion, and freedom from political oppression.
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 outside pressures.
Fourteen years later, on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, like
FDR in relation to Wilson, went Truman one better:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or
ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any
hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the
survival and the success of liberty.
These were the most famous words Kennedy was ever to utter, but in
connection with the criticisms of Bush’s Second Inaugural as
containing too much God and for universalizing the hunger for
freedom, it is worth quoting the much less familiar passage that
led up to them: