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Marc Jay Selverstone

Since virtually the earliest days of its existence, the United States has seen fit to announce in grandiose fashion its intentions and purposes to the world at large. The Declaration of Independence, for instance, the grandest statement of all, took aim at a foreign audience more than a domestic one. Subsequent declarations, often imbued with a millennial vision and a sense of exceptionalism, continued to broadcast the nation's principles far and wide. The emergence of the United States as a global power endowed those statements with increasing authority, for Americans as well as for those abroad. In time they came to take on the status of "doctrine," establishing the precepts of U.S. foreign policy.

For the most part, these doctrines sought to address immediate crises. Each involved diplomatic statements of intent; several of them spelled out specific actions in support of those intentions. For the most part, they sought to ground themselves in the traditions and lore of the American past. In an effort to establish that continuity, presidents have frequently referred to previous statements of policy, offering their own approaches as contemporary applications of enduring principles. Most of these declarations have carried weighty ideological content, venerating "free peoples" and the virtues of liberty. Yet they have been equally grounded in the language of national security, promoting the survival and safety of the American way. As a whole, they offer a thumbnail sketch of the history of American diplomacy.


In many ways, the "doctrines" of American foreign policy take their cue from the Monroe Doctrine, the seminal statement of national purpose. Articulated in 1823, this doctrine reflects the concerns and aspirations of a young country, bold enough to assert its power on the world stage. In dictating that Europe maintain a "hands-off" policy toward the Americas, it established the United States as a global power, albeit one with limited, hemispheric ambitions. Those ambitions would expand, however, and in future decades the Monroe Doctrine would prove useful for interventionists and isolationists alike. As the most recognizable and perhaps most venerated of diplomatic principles, its hold on the popular imagination has been so strong that it has defined the limits of acceptable policy options, shaping the range of choices open to presidents for the better part of two centuries.

Any appreciation of the Monroe Doctrine must take into account the domestic conditions of a young America and the international dynamics of the European great power system. The United States had only recently withstood the economic and military challenges posed by France and Britain during the Napoleonic wars. The conclusion of hostilities in 1815 seemed to release a host of energies that Americans harnessed and then directed inward. Numerous projects dedicated to fostering a more robust national systemsuch as the building of roads and canalsexpressed the desire of many to subdue the land. It was a project that Americans carried out with missionary zeal, believing it their destiny to inhabit and control vast reaches of space from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Extending the empire of liberty across the continent demanded that the United States shore up its diplomatic position, for that project of territorial expansion sought to absorb lands still coveted by several European states. One of those states was the empire of Spain, a world power from a previous era suffering the death throes of imperial overstretch. From Argentina to its holdings in North America, Spain's colonies in the New World were declaring their independence, a process that accelerated during the early years of the nineteenth century. Developments in connection with one of those holdingsWest Floridaled Congress to establish a policy of "no transfer," which forbade the transfer of Spain's former colonies to any other European power. Interest in wrenching Florida free from Spanish control continued throughout the 1810s; by 1819 the United States was able to capitalize on Spanish weakness and secure title to Florida as well as to regions in the Far West. It was thus well on the way to enlarging the domains under democratic rule.

Support for political liberty was not wholesale, however. While Americans considered a more democratic world to be a more peaceful worldand more conducive to American intereststhey questioned the ability of one and all to participate in the democratic experiment. Several members of the Monroe administration, including President James Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, regarded Latin Americans as poorly equipped for democratic government. Spanish misrule, Catholic hierarchies, and Old World cultures weighed heavily on those peoples, making U.S. officials leery of supporting revolutions that might ultimately failespecially if Spain were to mount an effort to retake those lands. Concerns such as these led officials in the Monroe administration to curb their republican passions and withhold recognition. By the early 1820s, however, several of those nations had stabilized, warranting a more formal American commitment to their viability. That pledge would come via President Monroe's December 1823 address to Congress. Not only would the United States recognize those new nations; it would seek to prevent their recolonization by any European power.

While expectations of conflict with Spain created the general context for the Monroe Doctrine, the president's declaration stemmed from a more tangible and immediate dispute with Imperial Russia. The czar had long been interested in the Pacific Northwest, coveting the waters off the American coast as a valuable spot for commercial fishing. In 1821, Alexander I declared the waters above 51 degrees north latitude the exclusive province of the Russian American Company and sought to maintain ports as far south as San Francisco.

American officials were not the only ones eager to create a barrier between Europe and the Americas. British statesmen were similarly anxious about the signals coming out of continental Europe, particularly regarding the fate of imperial Spain. The breakdown of Spain's New World empire was accompanied by political disturbances at home; in the end, however, revolution abroad would not be accompanied by revolution at home as France invaded Spain in 1823, restoring monarchical control to the country. Fears that France, along with Prussia and Austriathe two other members of the Holy Alliancewere interested in regaining for Spain its American colonies unnerved the British. Such a reversal could threaten British holdings in the Atlantic as well as the balance of power in Europe.

These concerns led Britain to approach the United States in the hope of making a joint statement regarding the Western Hemisphere. The intended effect of that declaration would be to ward off Spanish efforts either to recolonize its lost domains or to transfer control of those nations to other European powers. In weighing the British proposal, Monroe sought the help of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Friends and political allies, both Jefferson and Madison leaned toward accepting the British proposal, an inclination Monroe shared. Secretary of State Adams, however, disagreed with both their appraisal of the situation and their recommended course of action. First, he pointed out, Spain was ill-prepared to reclaim its colonies, a condition that called into question the very basis of the British proposal. Moreover, even if the European monarchies were prepared to help Spain retake its lost domains, it would be foolish for the United States to throw in its lot with Great Britain. "It would be more candid," Adams argued, "as well as more dignified, to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France than to come as a cock-boat in the wake of a British man-of-war." The United States, Adams was saying, should go it alone. It would brook no "interposition" by a European power in the affairs of the Americas, nor would it look kindly on efforts to subjugate newly independent states. For its part, America would refrain from inserting itself into the troubles of Europe, thereby consigning Europe and the United States to their respective and distinct spheres of influence. Those three principlesno interposition, noncolonization, and no interferencewould become wedded to the fabric of American foreign policy, attaining the status of dogma for much of the nation's history.

While those principles have been considered sacrosanct by generations of Americans, government officials have taken great liberties with the Monroe Doctrine, invoking or discarding its precepts at will. The frequency with which politicians, scholars, and citizens have appealed to the doctrine, as well as the malleability it affords, has generated a fascination with this seminal statement of American policy, turning the study of it into a veritable cottage industry. Interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine have been changing since the middle of the nineteenth century, the time when scholars began to treat it with much gravitas.

One of those areas of debate concerns the very authorship of the doctrine. Historians have pointed to either John Quincy Adams or President James Monroewith help from Jefferson and Madisonas the man more responsible for the doctrine's final form. Both Monroe and Adams sought to wall off Europe from the affairs of the Americas, and both menthough perhaps Adams more so than Monroewere disposed to keeping America out of European affairs. Nevertheless, it was Adams who prevailed upon Monroe to make his statement a unilateral one, rejecting the idea that Britain and the United States establish their positions jointly. The most persuasive accounts have accorded Monroe and Adams equal responsibility, with Monroe supplying the document's idealism and Adams its geopolitical realism. Yet it was Adams's insistence that America make that statement alone, without the backing of Great Britain, that elevated the doctrine to its place in American lore. His ability to persuade Monroe on this scorearguably the most important aspect of the president's messagehas even led one historian to cite the doctrine as America's declaration of diplomatic independence.

An ancillary debate has grown up around the issue of why the doctrine even appeared in the first place. Scholarship has revealed that fears of a Spanish intervention to reclaim its lost coloniesthe context for the principle of noninterventionwere essentially groundless. By the time that Monroe made his statement in December 1823, the Holy Alliance had given up its plans, if any existed in the first place, for helping to reestablish Spanish colonial rule. The seeming irrelevance, then, of the Monroe Doctrine to the actions it sought to prevent has led historians to attribute more personal and political motives to its enunciation. In this account the presidential election of 1824 looms large, as Adams sought to outmaneuver potential rivals, some of whom were associates in Monroe's cabinet. Although an intriguing argument can be made for the relevance of these dynamics to the policy process, the weight of evidence seems to run against the argument that the Monroe Doctrine was more the product of political machinations than the principled stand of disinterested public servants.

Further scholarship has delved into the purpose of the Monroe Doctrine, leaving historians to divide over its relative leanings toward interventionism and isolationism. These debates have often reflected concerns specific to the eras in which they took place. Reference to the doctrine, for instance, first appeared during the annexationist debates of the late 1840s. President James Polk would refer to it explicitly as justification for his policies of continental expansion. In that climate the Monroe Doctrine, with its apparent sanction of American privilege in the Western Hemisphere, captured the upsurge of nationalist feeling as the nation moved westward; indeed, historians have commented on the symbiotic relationship between the Monroe Doctrine and the spirit of "manifest destiny," regarding those ideas as beingin the minds of nineteenth-century Americansmutually reinforcing, if not identical.

Government officials and diplomatic historians would continually refer to the Monroe Doctrine throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, interpreting its rhetoric as support for their own isolationist or interventionist policy preferences. The doctrine would again assume an activist slant in the 1890s as Secretary of State Richard Olney invoked it with respect to the border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana. According to Olney, British intervention in the quarrel would violate the time-honored principle of noncolonization; though sharp words were exchanged, tensions between the United States and Britain dissipated, inaugurating a period of much smoother relations.

Subsequent events would give the doctrine an increasingly interventionist spin. Fallout from the War of 1898 left the United States with a preponderance of power in the Caribbean, a power it codified with the Platt Amendment of 1901. Reserving for itself the right to intervene in Cuba's affairs, the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt began to mark out an entire policy toward the region that would expand upon Monroe's original dictum. What concerned Roosevelt was the ability of Latin American nations to pay their debts to European creditors. Fearing that a string of defaults might lead Europe to meddle in hemispheric affairs, Roosevelt chose to intervene in the economic and political lives of those nations, establishing the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. Episodes such as these have led historians to marvel at the doctrine's flexibility. As a statement of national interest, the Monroe Doctrine has appeared to sanction economic imperialism in the Western Hemisphere as well as the missionary impulse to bring good government to the region. Whatever the case, scholars have offered ample evidence for the argument that such interventionism, whether in the service of cynical or noble motives, was absent from the doctrine's original formulation.

It has questionable relevance to American foreign policy in the twenty-first century. The self-imposed injunction against intervening in European affairsbroken on account of World Wars I and IIwas altogether abandoned during the Cold War as U.S. troop commitments and armaments cemented the NATO coalition of west European states. American leadership during the air war against Serbian targets during the 19981999 Kosovo crisis invalidated whatever was left of that portion of Monroe's injunction. Likewise, U.S. administrations have alternately supported and condemned foreign involvement in hemispheric affairs. While the Reagan administration supported Britain's war against Argentina over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in 1982, it clearly demanded that the Soviet Union follow a "hands-off" policy in connection with insurrectionary movements in Central America, as had the Nixon administration before it. Such actions suggest that if presidents are to invoke the Monroe Doctrine in the future, they will likely do so selectively, according to their assessment of prevailing geopolitical winds.


While the framers of the Monroe Doctrine and its corollary limited their horizons to the Western Hemisphere, a later statement of national purpose would extend that horizon halfway around the globe. The Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, named for President Herbert Hoover and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, actually reiterated earlier pledges regarding American interests in the Far East. In doing so, it sent a mixed message: that while the United States would not recognize territorial changes realized by force of arms, it had no interest in coming to the defense of that principle.

The events precipitating the doctrine's articulation took place in northern China in September 1931, along a section of track on the South Manchurian Railway, which had been administered by Japan since the first decade of the century. An explosion near the railway, subsequently attributed to the Japanese military, was blamed by Japan on Chinese rebels. Japan used the occasionthereafter known as the Mukden Incidentas a pretext to pacify ever-larger regions of Manchuria. Continued Japanese conquest alarmed the international community, prompting the League of Nations to condemn such aggrandizement. In an effort to underscore its concern, the league sought to enlist on its behalf support from the United States and the administration of President Herbert Hoover. On 7 January 1932, Secretary of State Stimson delivered notes to both Japan and China stating U.S. opposition to the course of events in Manchuria. Stimson's announcement was twofold: first, that the United States would not recognize any treaty that compromised the sovereignty or integrity of China; and second, that it would not recognize any territorial changes achieved through force of arms. It was a statement of pure principle, made even purer by the disinterest and inability of the United States to back up those words with deeds. Given the economic, military, and diplomatic constraints ensuing from the Great Depression, violations of the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine would bring public rebuke by the United States but little else.

Although the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine is often derided as a manifestation of pie-in-the-sky American idealism, its articulation made great sense to a great many at the time. Reflecting widespread revulsion at what the Great War had wroughtthe enormous loss of life, manifold disruptions of European societies, and an overwhelming reluctance to repeat the mistakes of the pastthe doctrine sought to marshal world opinion in the service of peace. Its appeal to universal standards of conduct reflected the emergence of a new mind-set in world affairsthat there was, in fact, such a thing as an international community and that certain norms governed its behavior. No statement was more emblematic of that consciousness than the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an agreement signed by thirty-three nations outlawing the use of force as an instrument of national policy.

The doctrine was also rooted in the history of the region. Western interest in China stretched back hundreds of years, but the ability to exercise decisive influence on that country was a more recent phenomenon. Britain's 1842 victory over China in the first of the Opium Wars established a pattern whereby several countries, including the United States, were able to demand most-favored-nation trading status from the Chinese authorities. By the late nineteenth century, the imperial powers were carving up China into separate spheres of influence. As China lay prostrate, U.S. Secretary of State John M. Hay proposed that those nations adopt an Open Door policy for China, an arrangement that would preserve China's territorial and administrative integrity while maintaining equal trading rights for all. It was Japan, however, that would mount the greatest challenge to the Open Door. Having gained a foothold in Manchuria following the Russo-Japanese War of 19041905, Japan applied increasing pressure on China, resulting in its Twenty-One Demands of 1915. American remonstrations to Japan indicated that the United States would not recognize any agreements in violation of the Open Door, a position it reaffirmed in 1917 and then again in 1922. The Mukden Incident of September 1931 represented the clearest challenge to date of that long-stated U.S. position.

The Hoover-Stimson Doctrine also was part of the history of U.S. recognition policy. This policy dated to the early national period when Democratic-Republicans and Federalists, arguing bitterly over a proper response to the French Revolution, questioned whether the United States was obligated to carry out agreements signed with the ancien regime, and vice versa. The issue of diplomatic recognition would reemerge following the War of 1812, as a more assertive United States questioned the wisdom of establishing formal relations with a coterie of weak, newly independent Latin American nations; it was this debate, in fact, that was the backdrop for the Monroe Doctrine. The matter would demand executive attention once again during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson. A series of regime changes in Mexicosome of them bloodyled Wilson to withhold recognition of General Victoriano Huerta, reversing the general principle of conferring legitimacy on whoever could demonstrate de facto territorial control. The Mukden Incident would reopen the issue of whether, and on what grounds, the United States would recognize the sovereignty of a new controlling authority.

Despite America's absence from the League of Nations, U.S. officials hoped that body would act swiftly to resolve the crisis. To prod it into action, the United States sent an observer to attend its deliberations. This led to the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the dispute and report back to the league assembly. When in 1932 the commission announced its findings, which blamed Japan for the crisis, the Japanese delegation walked out of the League of Nations. In the interim, a new Japanese government had assumed power and embarked on the further conquest of Manchuria. It was this action, undertaken by Japan in the fall of 1931, that prompted Stimson to issue his policy of nonrecognitiona policy suggested, in fact, by Hoover himself.

Although Stimson had hoped his approach would garner European support, formal endorsements were not in the offing. Britain, reversing the role it had played earlier regarding the Monroe Doctrine, let America wave the banner of nonrecognition, hoping to benefit from that policy without having to tie itself too closely to the American kite. Ultimately, the League of Nations endorsed Stimson's pledge, although over the next several years a number of its members would recognize Japanese suzerainty over Manchuria.

By most any measure, the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine failed its first test. Only three weeks after the secretary of state delivered his diplomatic notes, Japan attacked the port city of Shanghai, extending its sphere of influence into central China. The United States refused to take action; Stimson wanted to impose sanctions on Japan, but Hoover was reluctant to engage the United States in measures he deemed tantamount to war. Moreover, given the domestic pressures Hoover was facingincluding staggering unemployment figures, numerous bank failures, and a massive drop in consumer spendingit was all but impossible to send ill-prepared military forces around the world. The president hoped that China's size and culture would help it absorb the Japanese incursion, and that a dose of moral suasion would help convince the Tokyo leadership to cease and desist. Neither of these developments came to pass.

Insofar as Hoover dictated the nature of America's response during the Manchurian crisis, it seems wrong to castigate Stimson exclusively for policies that came to be associated with his name. Stimson envisioned a series of measures, increasing in severity, which he hoped would compel a Japanese change in behavior; the president, on the other hand, took the more isolationist position. Hoover, in fact, sought to wrestle authorship of the doctrine away from his secretary of state, a curious move given the manifest impotence of the measures it advocated. Yet grasping for evidence of leadership during the 1932 presidential campaign, Hoover wanted Stimson to consign its provenance over to the president. Eventually, Stimson did bestow that honor upon Hoover. Nevertheless, its principles continue to be associated with Stimson, and any mention of a doctrine continues to bear his name.

The Hoover-Stimson Doctrine would continue to amass a sorry record during the 1930s as the new political orders in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Albania, and Ethiopiathe fruits of German and Italian aggression and intimidationreceived widespread international recognition. Fascism's ascendance, observers would argue, took its cue from Japan's earlier behavior in the Far East; reluctance to confront Japan emboldened Hitler and Mussolini, creating conditions for the greater horror to come. In this sense, the promulgation of both the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine and the League of Nations judgment might have done more damage to international peace than the withholding of such statements. The failure of both the United States and the international community to back up their words with effective retributive actions thus allowed the Japanese, and perhaps the Germans and Italians, to call the world's collective bluff, plunging hundreds of millions into global war.

Scholars have regularly disparaged the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine on those grounds, describing it as both toothless and dangerous. Some historians, in fact, have argued that Stimson's approach was even weaker than that of the League of Nations, for it offered no procedure for mediating the Manchurian dispute. Others have decried its reliance on "legalism"the reliance on vague notions of universal norms to influence international behaviorat the expense of more "hard-headed" approaches to geopolitics. On the other hand, legal theorists have responded to the doctrine with guarded acclaim, pointing out that its injection of morality into global politics would help to shape an international consensus in the postwar era.


While the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine sought to constrain Japanese militarism, the Truman Doctrine addressed a new and more global threatthat of international communism. The purveyor of that creed, the Soviet Union, had enjoyed a rocky relationship with the United States; since October 1917, Americans had looked upon the Soviets as outcasts and irritants. Then, during World War II, they became allies. With the emergence of the Cold War their status changed again, with Moscow now taking on the attributes of an implacable foe. President Harry S. Truman would help sear that image into the minds of Americans, most spectacularly when, on 12 March 1947, in a message before a joint session of Congress, he laid down a set of principles that would govern U.S.Soviet relations for decades to come. "At the present moment in world history," Truman proclaimed, "nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life." Too often that choice was not a free one. It would therefore be the policy of the United States "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Although Truman chose not to identify those minorities or groups by name, their identity as communists was hardly in doubt. To help those free peoplesin this case, Greeks and Turkswithstand communist pressure, Truman would ask Congress to provide them with $400 million in economic and military aid. Yet far more than just Greece and Turkey was at stake, Truman proclaimed. The United States was caught in a global struggle between two opposing ways of life. Consequently, Truman deemed all of "the free peoples of the world" equally worthy of American assistance. By implication, then, the president's proposal was no mere stop-gap measure. As many in the press and government realized, it aspired to nothing less than the preservation of Western civilization.

Fears of postwar Soviet expansion had ebbed and flowed during 1946. The presence of Red Army troops in northern Iran well past the date established for their departure raised Western concerns about the nature of Moscow's intentions. Remonstrations by U.S. officials, however, led to a Kremlin withdrawal by late spring. Tensions would heat up later that summer as the Soviets pressured Turkey into revising the Montreux Conventionthe protocol governing access to the Dardanellesto allow for a joint administration of the Turkish straits with an eye toward the eventual establishment of Soviet bases in Turkey. Reports of Soviet troops massing along the Turkish border led the Truman administration to conclude that invasion might well be imminent. Turkish and American resistance led Moscow to drop its request, but Soviet behavior continued to worry U.S. officials.

Greece appeared to be the next target of the Soviet pressure campaign. Civil war between communists and monarchists had been raging in that country since the Nazi retreat of 1944, and neither the British, who stepped in as the occupying power, nor the Americans, who sent millions in aid, were able to quell the strife. Support for the communists came from the Yugoslav leader, Josip Broz Tito, although U.S. officials fearederroneously, as it turned outthat Moscow was the controlling force.

America's rise to power in the Mediterranean is also the story of Britain's fall from power. Previously, Britain had assumed the role of protector of the states in that area. With its economy in tatters following World War I, however, Britain found it could no longer play that role, and thus feared a Russian surge into the power vacuum it created. On 21 February the British embassy in Washington informed the State Department that Britain would soon be cutting off economic and military assistance to Greece and Turkey.

Committing the nation's resources and prestige to the security and survival of Europe during an era of nominal peace was a radical departure for American policymakers. It certainly stood in stark contrast to Monroe's pledge not to intervene in European affairs. As a result, administration officials thought it necessary to portray the situation in the most dramatic of terms. The president's address to the nation therefore employed rhetoric bordering on the apocalyptic, casting the struggle with Moscow in a highly dualistic light. The choice facing America, Truman argued, was between two opposing and irreconcilable ways of life: between the virtues of democracy and the horrors of totalitarianism. Although the East-West conflict had become more ideologically polarized during the preceding twelve months, the administration had yet to frame itat least publiclyin such a dichotomous fashion.

In doing so, the Truman Doctrine wove together several themes running through the national dialogue on the Soviet Union and thrust them out into the public realm with substantial force. One of them involved the image of "Red fascism." Although parallels between fascism and communism had been popular for years, the Truman Doctrine helped to work that image into the public consciousness, locking in the notion that Soviet Russia posed an equal if not greater threat to world peace than had Nazi Germany. The Truman Doctrine also contributed to the emergence of an equally powerful representation of the enemy: the "Communist monolith." Belief in the "monolith" presupposed that Greek communists, like all communists, were tools of the Kremlin. This was a viewpoint shared widelyand not without reasonby administration personnel and media figures alike. By minimizing the differences between any and all totalitarians, the Truman Doctrine reinforced that interpretation of communist behavior.

Not everyone in the administration embraced the overtly ideological cant of the president's speech. Officials such as policy planning director George Kennan, State Department counselor Charles Bohlen, and Secretary of State George Marshall thought Truman's comments either too dramatic, too overwrought, or too open-ended. Similarly, Walter Lippmann, the nation's leading journalist, likened the doctrine to "a vague global policy" devoid of any limits, and described it as "the tocsin of an ideological crusade." Indeed, fallout from the speech suggested that the public wasfrom the administration's point of viewfocusing too narrowly on its military and ideological aspects and ignoring its economic dimension. The administration was thus caught in a public relations paradox. On the one hand, it sought to brief the country on what was transpiring in Europe; only by "shocking" the nation, it believed, could the American people grasp the issues at stake. Yet the resultant upsurge in anticommunist sentiment threatened to overwhelm the administration's capacity to manage it. Hoping to get the word out in a more sober fashion, a speech by Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson reframed the debate around the administration's preferred theme of economic reconstruction. Marshall would return to that theme in early June, laying the groundwork for the recovery plan that bore his name.

In the interim, Congress debated the terms of the Greek and Turkish aid bills. Their passage was by no means assured, for Republican victories in the 1946 election ushered in a Congress that was not in Democratic control for the first time since 1932. Many of those who now sat in the majority had won their seats on pledges of fiscal restraint and tax reduction. Lawmakers thus sought to limit the scope of Truman's policy, a restriction that Acheson refused to accept; future requests for aid, he stated, would receive consideration on a case-by-case basis. Congress raised additional concerns over whether the recipients of foreign aid could be considered democratic. Acknowledging that neither the Turkish government nor the Greek forces were paragons of liberal virtue, administration officials urged Congress to fund both groups nevertheless. Otherwise, they argued, both Turkey and Greece would lose the ability to govern themselves and lay vulnerable to forces aided and abetted by the Soviet Union. Time was of the essence, Acheson declared; he and his associates urged quick action on the Greek and Turkish aid bills, arguing that the United States, and not the United Nationswith its clumsy machinerywas the proper engine for the aid program. Congress passed the aid measures and on 22 May Truman signed the bills. The Truman Doctrine was now the operative principle of U.S. foreign policy.

If the Monroe Doctrine established the general principles for subsequent declarations of American foreign policy, the Truman Doctrine established the more particular guidelines for the duration of the Cold War. It was the most dramatic statement issued by the administration since the emergence of conflict with the Soviets. It established a precedent of sweeping appeals to aid democratic forces, leaving to subsequent administrations the privilege of deciding precisely what constituted democratic behavior. Perhaps the greatest testament to its impact is the legislation and diplomacy that followed, more or less logically, from the premises it established. Within three years, the administration would usher through Congress bills establishing aid programs and treaties such as the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan) and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, committing the United States both economically and militarily to the defense of Europe. NSC 68, a 1950 National Security Council report to the president, and the attendant legislation that tripled the defense budget, likewise were expressions of the themes and arguments contained in Truman's speech. Indeed, for the next several decades, much of the nation's international behaviorfrom its involvement in Korea and Vietnam to its support of Afghani and Nicaraguan rebelsgrew out of the postulates laid down in the Truman Doctrine.

Historians have long debated the merits and demerits of the Truman Doctrine. Some have described it as an inherently self-serving policy. For these scholars, the Truman Doctrine was the opening gambit in America's quest for global economic hegemony; the plan, they charge, was to make the world safe for American capitalism. To be sure, U.S. policymakers were acutely aware of economic concerns as they mapped out American strategy in the postwar era. Fears of a "dollar gap" in Europe mounted when American leaders considered the domestic implications of the continent's misfortune; the inability of Europeans to purchase U.S. goods threatened to slow down the American economic recovery, leading to renewed concern about recession and even depression. The Marshall Plan, as the argument goes, thus primed the American pump, allowing European consumers to maintain levels of spending adequate for U.S. economic vitality.

It is not entirely clear, however, whether American policymakers focused on those issues with such single-minded zeal. Administration officials certainly understood the reciprocal features of an economically vital Europe and United States and were no doubt interested in maintaining growth in the home market. But they also recognized the dynamic between the economic vitality of Europe and the political health of Europe; it was their contention that a vibrant economy, both home and abroad, was the best protection against communist gains. It was most likely this larger picture, involving a wider matrix of forces, that they had in mind as they contemplated their response to the British withdrawal notes of February 1947.

Scholars have also questioned the wisdom of Truman's rhetoric. Some have argued that his use of Manichean imagery locked the nation into a rigid, inflexible policy toward the Soviet Union. Diplomacythe art of compromisewas all but impossible when one's counterparts were regarded as evil. Likewise, historians have argued, the persistence of that Manichean and monolithic framework prevented policymakers from recognizing difference and division within the communist world. An earlier appreciation of fragmentation in the Soviet blocand of downright hostility between some of its membersmight have prevented America from pursuing some disastrous policy options, such as those involving the war in Vietnam.

These arguments need to be qualified, especially in light of evidence emerging from the former Eastern bloc. While the Truman Doctrine certainly did its part in establishing a powerful vocabulary for the Cold War, it seems as though the language it used reflected some fundamental truths about international communism. Stalinist Europe was very much a closed system, with the Soviet Union controlling much of what went on there. True, Tito's Yugoslavia was able to assert its independence from the Soviet grip, but that was the exception; the regionwide purge resulting from the Tito split only reinforced the tendency for the other Eastern European nations to do Moscow's bidding. Chinese Communists were no more willing than their European counterparts to contravene Soviet wishes. Although tensions often resulted from tactical differences between Moscow and Beijing, on the larger questions the two stood side by side. As a result, American officials had little chance to court the Chinese Communists either before or after the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Things would change during the late 1950s and the 1960s, but so, too, would U.S. policy; the consensus established by Truman during the late 1940s would come unraveled as the nation plunged further into the jungles of Southeast Asia, leading another generation of policymakers to recast some of the early Cold War premises.


By the mid-1950s the Cold War had undergone a transformation. Stalin's death in March 1953 ushered in a period of transition for the Soviet Union, prompting the Kremlin's new leadership to stabilize its own power as well as Moscow's position with regard to the NATO alliance. Yet changes in the international arena would encourage those men, as well as their counterparts in the West, to view the developing world as a new site for East-West competition. President Dwight D. Eisenhower would engage the Soviets in that global battle for hearts and minds, a conflict that threatened to become particularly fierce in a region vital to U.S. national security: the Middle East. Eisenhower's January 1957 pledge to defend that region from "any country controlled by international communism" recalled his predecessor's commitment to "support free peoples" resisting foreign aggression. Eisenhower's willingness to commit American troops to that project went beyond what Truman had offered in March 1947; still, both statements were cut from the same cloth. Working from the premises of the Truman Doctrine while extending its range of policy options, Eisenhower added his name to a growing list of policymakers whose statements had risen to the level of American political doctrine.

Like the Monroe and Truman Doctrines, the Eisenhower Doctrine grew out of a specific set of historical circumstances. Since 1946 the United States had sought to counter Soviet encroachment in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf; its program of assistance to Greece and Turkey, as well as its rhetorical defense of Iran, served to keep those nations within the Western orbit.

Efforts to strengthen anticommunist forces in the region fell through, however, as Arab support for a Middle Eastern defense organization foundered over U.S. aid to Israel. Failure to erect a security structure for the Middle East in generaland for Western oil interests in particularloomed large as the tide of anticolonialism grew in that part of the world.

Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser would rise to power on the force of anticolonialism, and the attraction of Nasser's equally potent message of pan-Arabism would pose further challenges to Western interests. The Eisenhower administration equated Nasser's radicalism and anti-imperialism with communism and hoped to contain the spread of those forces, a project of equal interest to Britain. In an effort to foster pro-Western sentiment, Britain tied itself to Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistaneach a nation bordering the Soviet Unionin a mutual defense organization known as the Baghdad Pact. Tensions in the region continued to ratchet upward as Nasser received arms from Czechoslovakia and, more dramatically, nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956. The ensuing crisis over Suez damaged British and French prestige, embarrassed the United States, and resulted in a propaganda windfall for Egypt and the Soviet Union. Political power in the region thus seemed to be swinging away from the West and toward the communist world.

Eisenhower attempted to reverse that trend in early 1957. Addressing a joint session of Congress on 5 January, the president outlined what came to be known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, a plan of action for combating communism in the Middle East. A resolution designed to implement the doctrine authorized the president to provide economic and military cooperation and assistance to "any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East" fighting to maintain their independence. Money for that initiative, amounting to $200 million, would come from funds previously earmarked for the Military Security Act of 1954. Aside from providing economic aid, the resolution granted the president the option of using armed force "to assist any such nation or group of nations requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism." After months of sometimes pointed debatewith lawmakers questioning both the imminence of communist aggression and the wisdom of granting the president a blank check for engaging U.S. forcesCongress passed the resolution, providing the commander in chief with the tools needed to carry out the nation's foreign policy.

The administration would invoke the Eisenhower Doctrine a number of times over the course of the following two years. A political crisis in Jordan, which involved King Hussein's ouster of pro-Soviet members from his cabinet in April 1957, provided the first opportunity for doing so. Claiming that Jordan's independence was vital to the United States, Eisenhower ordered the Sixth Fleet into the eastern Mediterranean. When stability returned to Jordanian politics, Eisenhower attributed that relative tranquility to the American show of force. The administration would deploy naval and air units to the region for a second time in 1957, as Syria's acquisition of Soviet arms generated concern for the future independence of Turkey and Lebanon. Once again the conflict receded, and once again Eisenhower ascribed that development to American resolve.

Tensions in the region remained high nevertheless, with Nasserism adding a potent ingredient to the East-West conflict. Lebanon would bear the brunt of that mix when an internal political struggle mushroomed into an international one. President Camille Chamoun initiated that conflict in 1958, when he tried to circumvent the Lebanese constitution and extend his hold on power. Fearing a loss of control, Chamoun appealed to the United States for support under the Eisenhower Doctrine, citing Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs as a pretext for his request. For six weeks the United States did not oblige him. It was not until 14 July, when a coup in Iraq installed a Nasserite and pro-Soviet regime in Baghdad, that the administration acted. Responding to Chamoun's renewed calls for support, and coming on the heels of British aid to Jordan, the United States inserted fifteen thousand troops into Lebanon, the clearest application of the Eisenhower Doctrine to date.

Some have argued that Eisenhower's Eurocentrism and unfamiliarity with regional concerns blinded him to Middle Eastern realities, making him too willing to interpret the region's nationalist movements as hostile to U.S. interests. Much of this stemmed from Eisenhower's equating of Nasserism with communism. The president, in fact, attributed the Lebanese turbulence to the work of communist elements, a development that, he believed, threatened to engulf the entire region. His fear was that a single communist success might precipitate a domino-like chain reaction in which the governments of Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia would each fall to the forces of Nasserism. Invoking the Munich analogy as well as the domino metaphor, Eisenhower declared Lebanon to be the victim of "indirect aggression from without," aggression that spelled trouble for pro-Western forces from Europe to Asia. His decision to send in the marines, therefore, stemmed largely from those broader concerns.

It is far from clear whether the destabilization of Lebanon would have resulted in the domino-like scenario Eisenhower envisioned. Nor is it clear whether anti-Western or pro-Soviet elements in the region would have been as hostile to America as Eisenhower imagined. Scholars have pointed to Iraqi general Karim Kassem as a case in point. Although Kassem would sign a defense treaty with Egypt and take his country out of the Baghdad Pact, Iraq emerged from the crisis as less ensconced in the Soviet camp than first believed. Neither of those measuresneither the arms deal nor the abrogation of the defense treatyindicated complete subservience to the Kremlin. Moreover, while Kassem did increase his ties with Moscow, he also increased the flow of Iraqi oil to the West, hardly the response of an out-and-out Soviet lackey.

Historians have likewise questioned the wisdom of dispatching the U.S. Sixth Fleet to the eastern Mediterranean. While that show of force was supposed to deter Syria from meddling in Jordanian, Lebanese, and Iraqi politics, the move backfired, according to some historians, encouraging greater Arab unity in the face of Western intervention. Other scholars have claimed that the Eisenhower Doctrine sought to combat a threat that was largely imaginary. Nasser had no great affinity for the Soviet Union, and even less for Marxism. Rather, his anticolonialism was directed largely at Britain and Francenot at the United Statesleading Eisenhower to squander whatever good will he might have had with the Egyptian leader. Still others have cited Eisenhower's own actions as testaments to his doctrine's futility. Six months after the marines landed in Lebanon, they point out, the administration was reevaluating its entire approach to the Middle East, choosing to work with, and not against, Arab nationalism. By 1958 the Eisenhower administration was funneling over $150 million in aid to Egypt, hardly the result one would have expected prior to the doctrine's enunciation.


Eisenhower's vice president, Richard M. Nixon, would challenge the premises and augment the scope of Cold War presidential doctrines. One of Nixon's goals, in fact, was to limit the type of intervention that Eisenhower had joined in Lebanon, where the commander in chief responded to an international crisis by "sending in the marines." He would introduce his new approach on 25 July 1969, the very day that America began its lengthy retreat from the jungles and marshes of Vietnam. Speaking to reporters on the island of Guam, Nixon described the U.S. troop withdrawal in terms that endowed it with a broader, strategic rationale. Retrenchment, according to Nixon, would subordinate the nation's commitments to its interests, reversing the recent trend of American policy. Nixon's policy would likewise encourage friends and allies to marshal greater resources in their own defense, even as the United States continued to meet its treaty obligations. Finally, it would grant the United States greater flexibility to respond to new diplomatic realities.

Nixon derived these principles from his appraisal of the postwar international environment, the features of which, he argued, had undergone a recent and dramatic transformation. As Nixon explained, the United States was the only major country to escape the social and economic destruction of World War II. Consequently, in those first years after the war, friends and former enemies depended on the United States for aid in rebuilding their economies and resisting communist penetration. By the late 1960s, however, that first postwar era had given way to a new international configuration. Former recipients of U.S. economic and military assistance were now capable of contributing more to their own defense; developing nations, at one time easy marks for communist agitators, now required less American help and protection. Of perhaps greater importance were the events taking place within the Eastern bloc. Soviet crackdowns on East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, as well as border clashes with China, were easing earlier fears of a monolithic communist movement. Those incidents, according to Nixon, testified to the "emerging polycentrism of the communist world," an altered landscape that presented the United States with "different challenges and new opportunities."

The Western alliance had also undergone something of a transformation. France withdrew from NATO's military command in 1966, challenging U.S. leadership of a united Western front. Britain, America's foremost partner in Europe, continued its fall from imperial glory, retreating from positions east of Suez in 1968. Economic troubles in both Europe and the United States would further tax the alliance, straining America's ability to "pay any price" for the survival of liberty. And the war in Vietnam continued to strait-jacket America's flexibility and drain its resources.

Those realities led Nixon to reshape the rhetoric and practice of U.S. foreign policy. Although he accepted the premise that the United States remained "indispensable" to world peace and stability, Nixon also recognized the limits of American power. Other nations, he maintained, "should assume greater responsibilities, for their sake as well as ours," a clear admission that the United States could not go it alone. America would, therefore, seek to balance the "ends" it desired in its foreign policy with the "means" available for doing so.

Nixon's Guam statement was the first indication that the president would be adopting a new strategic posture, prompting reporters to label its particulars the Guam Doctrine. Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger resisted that appellation and sought to change it, believing that a statement of such importance should commemorate its originator rather than its place of origin. Yet the newly coined Nixon Doctrine was vague enough to require repeated and lengthy explanation. The president sought to clarify his intent in an address to the nation on 3 November 1969. First, he noted, the United States would "keep all of its treaty commitments." Second, it would "provide a shield" should a nuclear power threaten either the freedom of a nation allied with the United States or the existence of a country deemed vital to U.S. security. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Nixon vowed to maintain the outward flow of economic and military assistance in accordance with U.S. treaty commitments. "But," he added, "we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense."

Southeast Asia would be the setting for the most visible application of the Nixon Doctrine. In an attempt to extricate the United States from the war in Indochina, Nixon sought to "Vietnamize" the conflict by having indigenous troops supplant American forces. It was a program that took four years to complete, with the last U.S. troops leaving Saigon in 1973. That policy, part of a broader effort to reduce American commitments abroad, would also find a home in the Middle East, where Nixon tried to build his new security structure upon the "twin pillars" of Iran and Saudi Arabia. The shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would benefit greatly from America's reliance on proxies, receiving a virtual blank check from Nixon and Kissinger to purchase enormous sums of American military hardware. It was a shopping spree that would boomerang on the shahand on the United Statesbefore the decade was out.

These manifestations of retrenchment were themselves part of a broader plan to alter relations with the Soviet Union and China. As he laid out in his Guam remarks, Nixon sought to capitalize on the "polycentrism" of the communist world. His visit to China in 1972 opened a new chapter in the Cold War; America would now practice "triangular diplomacy" and engage both the Chinese and the Soviets, creating new opportunities for U.S. foreign policy. One of those was in the field of arms control, where U.S. and Soviet officials sought to rein in a costly and dangerous arms race. Agreements regarding strategic weapons and antiballistic missile systems signaled a new spirit of cooperation between the super-powers, a relaxation of tensions that came to be known as détente. Given the overlap between those developments and his strategic vision, Nixon would ascribe his Soviet initiatives, as well as the commercial, cultural, and diplomatic ventures begun with the People's Republic of China, to the Nixon Doctrine as well.

Supporters hailed the Nixon Doctrine and the diplomacy of the Nixon-Kissinger team as a new, remarkable, and genuine alternative to the bitter contentions of the first postwar years. The domestic and international circumstances of the late 1960s and early 1970s, they observed, simply would not allow for massive interventions along the lines of Korea and Vietnam. Instead, the United States would "balance" the distribution of power in the international arena rather than pursue preponderant advantage. Many commentators found this a welcome change, even a sign of political maturity. For the first time in the postwar era, the United States was to a great degree experiencing and acclimatizing itself to the limits of American power.

Critics of the doctrine divided over its novelty, meaning, and effect. Some regarded Nixon's policies in Southeast Asiawidening the war to Cambodia and dragging out American involvement for another four yearsas fully consistent with the tactics of his predecessors. Others have charged that Vietnamization, a policy supposedly born out of a new strategic calculus, was less an inspired idea than an acceptance of, and rationalization for, failure. In fact, Nixon's use of proxies seemed to inaugurate a new phase of the Cold War; his successors would build upon that policy, supporting "freedom fighters" throughout the developing world. Far from signaling a lessening of tensions or an American retreat from the Cold War, the Nixon Doctrine simply shifted the responsibility for fighting it. Now others would bear America's burden.

Still other scholars have questioned Nixon's use of proxy forces to safeguard American interests. Iran provides the most glaring example of that policy gone awry. In opening America's military coffers to the shah, Nixon fed the appetite of a ruler increasingly out of touch with his own people, accelerating tensions in a country deemed vital to the U.S. national interests. While that unrest derived most of its energy from internal factors, initiatives associated with the Nixon Doctrine contributed to such instability, paving the way for the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Detractors have also faulted the Nixon Doctrine for actually expanding the ranks of nuclear-capable nations. According to this critique, pledges to take friends and allies under the American shield left countries to wonder whether, and under what circumstances, they qualified for such protection. Nixon's failure to identify potential beneficiaries led nations such as Israel, India, Pakistan, and Brazil to join the nuclear club, preferring their own nuclear shields to the ambiguities inherent in an American one.

Finally, scholars have pointed out inconsistencies in the Nixon Doctrine. If its goal was to bring America's commitments in line with its resources, then pledges to aid countries threatened by communist subversion threatened to widen those commitments immeasurably. Application of the doctrine to the communist world seemed equally muddled. Although Nixon professed a recognition that international communism was polycentric rather than monolithic, he continued to oppose communist forces as though a victory for any of them was a victory for all of them, and especially for Moscow.

In the end, the Nixon Doctrine suffered from an inherent ambiguity. In trying to fashion a broad strategic posture for the United States, it became too diffuse, being associated with everything from détente to Realpolitik, to triangular diplomacy, to arms control, and to the use of proxy forces. In sum, it became the Nixon foreign policy agenda writ large. As such, it lacked a single, unifying principle tying administration initiatives together, even promoting one set of policies at the expense of another.


The era of détente would prove to be short-lived. Challenges to the Nixon administration emerged from both the right and left of the American political spectrum, questioning the moral basis as well as the geopolitical rationale of engaging the Soviets as equal partners. President James Earl Carter was no more adept at salvaging the spirit of cooperation than was President Gerald Ford before him. Carter's focus on human rights alarmed Soviet leaders, who were accustomed to Nixon's disregard for such issues. From Carter's perspective, a series of events, including conflict in the Horn of Africa and the discovery of Soviet troops in Cuba, led Carter to adopt a more hawkish position toward the USSR. Moscow's invasion of neighboring Afghanistan would bring him more firmly into the cold warrior camp. The Kremlin's December 1979 push south of its border jolted the administration, leading Carter to take several measures that, collectively, marked the clearest indication that relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were in a free fall.

The president clarified the new situation one month later in his State of the Union Address of 23 January 1980. Referring specifically to the Soviet invasion, Carter declared that "an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." By the following morning, the New York Times had given that policy a name: the Carter Doctrine.

Although the Soviet invasion was the proximate trigger for the Carter Doctrine, momentum for the president's policy shift had been building over the previous two years. Much of that energy flowed from concern over the fate of Iran. One of the "two pillars" undergirding America's security structure in the Middle East, Iran had been supporting U.S. interests for close to twenty-five years. Its position was so vital that the administration rarely, if ever, questioned Iran's ability to play that role; Carter himself labeled Iran "an island of stability" as late as January 1978. Yet in just over a year, the shah would be deposed, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini would return from France and transform the country into an Islamic republic, and fifty Americans would be taken hostage by Iranian students and militants. With the Nixon Doctrine in tatters, U.S. policymakers sought to fashion a new strategy for the region.

Fears of regional instability were only partly responsible for Carter's movement toward a new strategic posture. According to the president, an amalgam of three distinct forces had combined to prompt his declaration of U.S. policy: "the steady growth and increased projection of Soviet military power beyond its own borders; the overwhelming dependence of the Western democracies on oil supplies from the Middle East; and the press of social and religious and economic and political change in the many nations of the developing world, exemplified by the revolution in Iran." In all, a host of events had led the administration to conclude that American interests in the Persian Gulf were under grave threat. Only a more forceful statement of purpose could begin the process of redressing the regional andin the administration's calculationglobal balance of power.

The doctrine also emerged out of a long-running debate within the administration over its policy toward the Soviet Union. Carter's principal foreign policy aides, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, differed over the degree to which Washington should confront the Soviets. It was Brzezinski's contention that Moscow had never stopped probing for weak spots around the globe; for him, instability in both Central America and Africa testified to the Kremlin's continuing desire for ideological competition, especially in the developing world. Détente, he surmised, had merely allowed the Soviets to continue their expansionist thrust there under the cover of superpower cooperation. In contrast to Vance's preference for conciliation, Brzezinski had been lobbying for a more aggressive stance toward Moscow since the earliest days of the administration. A series of developments, including the discovery of Soviet soldiers in Cuba and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, provided further support for Brzezinski's arguments. By the time that Carter delivered his State of the Union Address in January 1980, the Brzezinski approach had won out.

A host of measures associated with the Carter Doctrine followed quickly on the heels of its enunciation, signaling a new phase in Carter's approach to the Soviet Union and to his overall practice of foreign policy. Within a month of his address, Carter sanctioned the creation of a Rapid Deployment Force, a contingent of as many as 200,000 troops, designed to expedite the projection of American military power around the globe, and especially in the Middle East. He would take additional steps to improve America's combat readiness, preparing the groundwork for a reimposition of the military draft and asking Congress for a sharp increase in defense spending. Other policies would impinge on U.S.Soviet relations as Carter enacted a partial grain embargo and boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Still further actions, whereby Carter withdrew a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty from senatorial consideration and extended the number of Soviet sites targeted by U.S. missiles, recast the nuclear dimension of the two countries' relationship. On top of those actions, Carter embraced Pakistani ruler Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, indicating his willingness to subordinate human rights concerns to the struggle against Soviet aggression. By and large, those measures appealed to a Congress eager for action after the previous year's indignities.

They also struck a chord with the American public. Opinion polls revealed general support for the president's statement, suggesting that Carter had correctly gauged the popular mood. Responding to criticism that Carter had engaged in pandering and political grandstanding, Brzezinski defended his president, explaining that the administration needed to make such a proclamation if only to steel the public for the demands ahead. Journalists, however, while hardly indulgent of Soviet behavior, interpreted Carter's speech as a fundamentally political move, designed to reshape the president's image at the outset of an election year. Scholars, too, have subjected the doctrine to withering critiques. Some have described it as little more than empty posturing, crafted more to improve Carter's political fortune than to alter Soviet behavior. Still others maintain that Carter acted rashly, drawing conclusions about Soviet motives based on very little evidencemotives he himself would qualify throughout the remainder of his presidency. Still others have faulted the Carter Doctrine for its ambiguity, noting that it failed to define, with any sense of precision, the nature of aggression, the characteristics of an outside force, or even the boundaries of the Persian Gulf itself.

Moreover, scholars have argued, the Carter Doctrine and policies associated with it offered little in the way of tangible benefits. None of the measures aimed at the Kremlinnot the grain embargo, nor the Olympic boycott, nor the curtailment of additional tradeforced the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Nor did the president's unilateralism sit well with his European allies; only British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported Carter's approach. At the same time, however, European business capitalized on the chillier relationship as several firms concluded lucrative deals at America's expense.

While the Carter Doctrine secured few if any tangible gainseven its progenitor lost at the ballot box that Novemberit would continue to shape U.S. policy during the Cold War, largely because subsequent administrations bought into its premises. President Ronald Reagan and his advisers regarded the Soviet Union as an aggressive, expansionist power; if anything, they, and the Bush administration that was to follow, were even more willing to protect U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf from Soviet predations and political instability.

The Carter Doctrine also hastened the buildup of American arms, a process that was already under way by January 1980, and for which some historians give him high marks. It would be the Reagan administration, however, that would capitalize on the perceived need for military expenditures, expanding the size and cost, and revamping the shape, of America's military forces.

In relation to other Cold War presidential statements, the Carter Doctrine fit squarely within their rhetorical barriers. It maintained Truman and Eisenhower's focus on the Mediterranean and Middle East, a region that had become increasingly vital to U.S. officials in the aftermath of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War and the ensuing Arab oil boycott. Indeed, it echoed the excited language of both the Truman and Eisenhower Doctrines, offering to assist those nations threatened by totalitarian aggression. And in associating himself with those two statements of national policy, Carter distanced himself from the previous two administrations. His willingness to intercede unilaterally in Middle Eastern affairs testified to the poverty of the Nixon Doctrine's "twin pillar policy," the very structure of which was now obsolete. Nevertheless, U.S. support for the Afghani resistance to the Soviet Union suggests that elements of Nixon's approach remained intact; the United States would continue to assist proxy forces resisting Soviet advances when such a policy proved fruitful, and would seek to impose its own forces when the situation demanded it.


For the most part, the doctrines of American foreign policy have sprung largely from a sense of crisis in the world at large. From the early nineteenth until the late twentieth century, whenever presidents saw fit to articulate certain principles of American foreign policy, they did so in an environment of either apparent danger or impending opportunity. The Reagan Doctrine was no different. Presupposing a world of good and evil, it operated on the assumption that evil, in the form of the USSR, was gaining the upper hand. To Reagan and his advisers, examples of Soviet perfidy, including support for Marxist movements around the globe, were numerous; moreover, Soviet adventurism, from the Horn of Africa in the 1970s to Central America in the 1980s, showed no signs of abating. Reagan was intent on arresting that trenda trend, he believed, that Carter had done little to reverse. Therefore, he adopted the rhetoric of the early Cold War, advocating policies equally assertive and bold in scope.

Reagan laid out that vision in his State of the Union Address of 6 February 1985. "We must not break faith," he declared, "with those who are risking their liveson every continent from Afghanistan to Nicaraguato defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth." The president went on to equate anticommunist forces with American colonists who had fought the revolutionary war, describing those latter-day patriots as "freedom fighters" for democracy. Providing aid to those groups was not only morally just but geopolitically sound. "Support for freedom fighters," Reagan avowed, "is self-defense." It would be months before those declarations would take shape as a fixed statement of policy. In the interim, a further pledge to support "freedom fighters," made on 22 February by Secretary of State George Shultz to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, lent added heft to Reagan's message. But it was neither Reagan nor his advisers who put the president's name to the set of policies he was announcing. Rather, it was Charles Krauthammer, a commentator on foreign affairs, who coined the term "Reagan Doctrine" in a Time magazine column of April 1985. Reagan's practice of waging Cold War through proxy forces had a long doctrinal pedigree, one that dated back to the early years of the Cold War. Presidents from Truman through Carter had all sought to aid governments or movements battling communism, but it was Reagan who, arguably, endowed that policy with its greatest energy. The belief that Moscow was supporting leftist movements in the Third World was one of the doctrine's guiding principles. As Reagan commented during the 1980 presidential campaign, "the Soviet Union underlies all the unrest that is going on. If they weren't engaged in this game of dominoes, there wouldn't be any hot spots in the world." Reagan himself chose to play that game early in his administration, authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency in 1981 to begin financing the "contra" forces battling the pro-Soviet Sandinista movement for control of Nicaragua. Funding for such anticommunist units suggests that the Reagan Doctrine appeared in practice long before it became enshrined as such.

Aside from injecting an explicitly moral component into the nation's conduct of foreign affairs, the Reagan Doctrine augmented the geopolitical rationale of earlier efforts. It was the administration's position that the Truman Doctrine's version of containment, which had been designed originally to thwart Stalin's aims in Europe, was obsolete. Since the 1950s the Kremlin had achieved considerable influence in the Third World, indicating that Moscow's ambitions were more global than originally imagined. This new reality, according to the administration, called for a revision of those basic postulates first laid down by Policy Planning Staff director George Kennan during the early years of the Cold War. With the Reagan team prepared to challenge the Soviets all over the globe, administration spokespersons began to call their approach "containment plus."

Reagan officials would add an offensive component to containment that was at least as explicitand more wide-rangingthan anything that policy had sanctioned during the early Cold War. Secretary of State George Shultz, like Secretary John Foster Dulles before him, spoke of "rolling back" Soviet gains, recapturing nations and peoples for democracy. Yet Shultz pledged to do so in a new environment, where Moscow was a global power committed to the safeguarding of communist regimes. That Soviet conceit, known as the Brezhnev Doctrinea 1968 statement by Premier Leonid Brezhnev declaring the irreversibility of socialist gainswas anathema to Reagan, "an arrogant pretension," as he termed it, "that we must face up to."

The administration's reluctance to cede virtually any ground to communism revealed another shift in America's Cold War policy and led Reagan to contravene a principle established in the Nixon-Ford years during the 1970s. That principle, known as the Sonnenfeldt Doctrineafter State Department counselor Helmut Sonnenfeldtupheld the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of according greater legitimacy to Soviet security concerns. Speaking to a gathering of U.S. ambassadors in December 1975, Sonnenfeldt urged the Soviets and the Eastern Europeans to seek a more "organic" relationship, downplaying the oppressiveness of that relationship while at the same time advocating a "more autonomous existence" for Eastern Europe "within the context of a strong Soviet geopolitical influence." Displeasure with that position, on both moral and geopolitical grounds, led the Reagan administration to adopt a more aggressive, global policy that challenged the legitimacy of Soviet power.

Although Reagan was unquestionably supportive of the doctrine that bore his name, his role in formulating it seems to have been quite limited. His distance from that project accords with the operating style of a president whose involvement in the day-to-day tasks of policymaking was minimal at best. Clearly, however, Reagan was in tune with the doctrine's preceptsideas that sprang from key advisers such as CIA director William Casey, UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and Attorney General Edwin Meese. Speechwriters and publicists such as Anthony Dolan, Peggy Noonan, and Patrick Buchanan were equally important in shaping the message for public consumption. In the end, however, it was Reagan, through his mastery of public speaking, who sold it to the nation.

Reagan would implement his doctrine in a variety of locales around the world, from Asia to Africa to Central America. In Afghanistan, the president sought to aid forces working to topple the pro-Soviet government in Kabul. Using means reminiscent of the Nixon Doctrine, Reagan provided the guerrillas with substantial amounts of military assistance in their battle against the invading Soviets. The administration offered similar support to Nicaraguan contras battling communist-dominated Sandinistas who had overthrown longtime dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Likewise, Reagan offered aid to anticommunists in Angola competing with the Soviet-backed government for control of that newly independent country. And in Cambodia the administration propped up a coalition of forces working to unseat a government installed by the Soviet-sponsored Vietnamese after Hanoi's invasion of 1979.

The track record of the Reagan Doctrine is mixed. The administration got what it wanted in Afghanistan: strong resistance to Soviet armed forces and an eventual troop pullout by Mikhail Gorbachev. To the extent that it accelerated popular distrust of the Communist Party and the Soviet government, the war in Afghanistanand the Reagan administration's contribution to ithelped bring down the Soviet empire and the USSR itself. Yet those immediate gains were offset in later years as Afghani forces turned on their former patrons, targeting U.S. interests around the world.

The Reagan Doctrine also gave a boost to the CIA, an institution that had come under fire during the 1970s as its abuses of power, investigated by Congress, came to light. Under the guidance of William J. Casey, the CIA resuscitated its operations division, carrying out policies largely shielded from public view. That emphasis on clandestine activity, however, would backfire during the second Reagan administration. Fears that "rogue" elements within the government were running U.S. foreign policy were borne out with the unfolding of the Iran-Contra affair, a political scandal that revealed how elements of the National Security Council undermined congressional legislation in an effort to aid the Nicaraguan rebels.

Scholars have questioned the distinctiveness of the Reagan Doctrine. The containment plus designation applied by its supporters suggested that the Reagan Doctrine added the element of "rollback" to the decades-old policy of restricting Soviet encroachment. In doing so, however, the administration exaggerated the novelty of its approach; though George Kennan might have called for engaging the Soviets on a more limited geographic basis in the late 1940s, by the time that Paul Nitze had replaced Kennan as head of the Policy Planning Staff in 1950and certainly by the time that Truman had made way for Eisenhowerthe United States was challenging communist and leftist movements far afield from the Soviet periphery. Similarly, Reagan's use of proxy forces echoed tactics used by every administration from Truman forward; indeed, the speech that launched the Reagan Doctrine included verbatim numerous paragraphs from Truman's 1947 speech. From Greek guerrillas to Guatemalan generals to anti-Castro Cubans to conservative Chileans, indigenous forces with anticommunist pedigrees had long fought America's Cold War battles on many a distant shore.

Others have criticized the administration for applying the Reagan Doctrine selectively. According to these observers, recipients of American aid were often lacking in liberal virtues; the Afghani guerrillas, for instance, hardly merited support on democratic grounds. Use of such proxies led commentators to label the Reagan approach as Realpolitik masquerading as morality, the very criticism Reaganites themselves had leveled at Nixon and Kissinger. It also led critics to charge Reagan with pandering to public opinion, since administration references to "freedom fighters" seemed more reflective of the president's domestic political needs than of the makeup of those forces receiving American assistance.

Aside from the more cosmetic aspects of the Reagan Doctrine, it is far from clear whether it succeeded in rolling back communist gains. Critics have charged that administration policies, such as those pursued in Nicaragua, actually retarded the emergence of stability and the growth of a more pro-American sentiment. Although the Sandinistas did lose at the ballot box in 1990, scholars have described similarly favorable outcomes in locales such as Cambodia and Angola as owing more to changes in the international arena than to Reagan's policies themselves. The breakup of Moscow's Eastern European empire in 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 altered the geopolitical environment, undercutting support for pro-Soviet or Marxist regimes. Settlement of those regional conflicts, in ways largely favorable to Western interests, thus became easier to achieve.

Indeed, it is far from clear whether the allegedly greatest achievement of the Reagan Doctrinethe fall of communism itselfis attributable to Reagan at all. Historians have argued repeatedly that a host of troubles internal to the Soviet Unionfrom a stagnant economy to a crisis of political legitimacy to the intractable nationalities questionwere far more consequential to the undoing of the Soviet system than any challenge mounted by Reagan. Nevertheless, other scholars point out that Reagan gave the final push to the Soviet house of cards. It was his pursuit of the Strategic Defense Initiative, the argument runs, that bankrupted the Kremlin leadership, prompting a liberalization of the Soviet political economy that, in turn, loosed the forces that brought down the entire system. Likewise, it was Reagan's rhetoric that emboldened Eastern Europeans to become more assertive, leading to the events of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Judgment on these matters still awaits a more thorough historical treatment.

Clearly, though, the last presidential doctrine of the Cold War was every bit as hawkish as the first. It sought to reinject a moral component to America's foreign policy, hearkening back to the language of the Truman years. In doing so, the Reagan teamrhetorically, at leastabandoned the amoral practice of Nixon-Kissinger Realpolitik, launching an all-out offensive against the "evil empire." Reagan's appraisal of the Soviets would undergo a shift, however, leading to a more productive relationship with Moscow, especially after the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev. Still, the administration remained hawkish in its approach to what it perceived as pro-Soviet forces. Working from a Manichean view of the world, the Reagan administration regarded all leftist regimes as tools of the Kremlin, a position that added greater force to its public rhetoric while possibly reducing the efficacy of its foreign policies.


At the most basic level, one can understand the doctrines of American foreign policy as statements of principle, designed to forestall crises or to meet them head on. The Monroe, Truman, Eisenhower, Carter, and Reagan Doctrines all sought to preempt actions deemed hostile to the United States by warning potential aggressors of American intent. They also pledged, save for the Monroe Doctrine, to support allied forces in their campaigns against predatory forces. To some extent, then, most of these doctrines carried deterrent qualities. The Hoover-Stimson Doctrine and the Nixon Doctrine stand out as exceptions: the former because it sought to compel the undoing of past actions as much as to deter future behavior, and the latter because it sought to do so many things, especially on the strategic level, with none of them targeting any specific threat.

In other ways, the story of America's foreign policy doctrines, at least during the Cold War, is the story of the United States supplanting Britain as a world power. Britain's inability to prop up pro-Western forces in Greece and Turkey precipitated Truman's request of $400 million in assistance for those two nations and a global commitment to aid others similarly imperiled. Eisenhower's pledge to aid Middle Eastern nations threatened by international communism came as a direct response to British, along with French, stumblings during the Suez crisis of 1956. Nixon's reliance on a "twin pillar" policy, while a recognition of America's limited resources, was itself brought on by Britain's withdrawal from territories east of the Suez.

And yet each of those statements exist as quintessentially, if not exclusively, American. Their content reflects the values of a nation imbued with a sense of mission to carry democratic principles around the world. Again, that sense of transcendent purpose shows up most clearly during the Cold War, yet previous statements contain elements of that creed. Nevertheless, the doctrines of American foreign policy are also clearly designed to promote the national interest. Whether they involved the creation of an Atlantic buffer between Europe and the Americas, or the defense of freedomand free enterprisein Europe itself, those doctrines have sought to protect American interests, be they material or nonmaterial, so that U.S. citizens could enjoy the blessings of liberty.

Those doctrines, in fact, reveal a close relationship between the missionary ideal of a more democratic world and the security ideal of a resilient America. For the most part, each presumes that the proliferation of democratic government would result in a more peaceful world and a more secure United States. Grounded in the belief that the peoples of the world are more desirous of peace than war, they posit that a government responsive to the will of the people would likewise seek pacific relations. These ideas are embedded in U.S. foreign policy doctrines from Monroe to Reagan. From the protection of democratic regimes in the Western Hemisphere, to the nonrecognition of military conquest in East Asia, to support for "freedom fighters" in the Middle East and around the world, those doctrines operated on the assumption that a more democratic world would be a safer worldand a more secure world for the United States.

At the same time, one might wonder why all presidents, especially from the middle of the twentieth century onward, did not have a doctrine of their own. Surely in an age of increasing American power, Franklin D. Roosevelt might have tapped into a legacy of past presidents and associated himself with a particular statement of purpose. Recent experience with such declarations, however, suggests at least one reason why a Roosevelt Doctrine failed to materialize. While the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary of Theodore Roosevelt were familiar concepts to Americans, the Stimson Doctrinethe latest in a growing line of policy proclamationswas hardly worthy of emulation. Moreover, previous statements of American purpose were made unilaterally; Franklin Roosevelt's grand declarationsmost notably, the Atlantic Charterwere declarations of multilateral intent. Of Roosevelt's many pronouncements, therefore, the statement most likely to have merited doctrinal status might have been his 1937 pledge to "quarantine" aggressor states. Offered in response to Japanese depredations in China, Roosevelt's call for a moral embargo on predatory regimes was so vague, however, and supported with such little force, that a doctrinal statement of principle would likely have gone the way of Stimson's pledge.

The absence of a Kennedy Doctrine is also curious, though perhaps less so than at first thought. President John F. Kennedy devoted much of his energy to the Caribbean. After the Bay of Pigs debacle, however, Kennedy was loathe to commit himself publicly to the removal of the Castro regime, especially given the negative press the effort had received. Certainly it was an outcome Kennedy greatly desired, and he devoted considerable resources to its realization Yet it might have proved difficult to make so bold a statement on Cuba following his April failure. Indeed, it probably would have been ludicrous for him to have proffered a doctrine designed to rescue him from his earlier defeat. Moreover, having been roughed up by Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit, Kennedy was in no position to be establishing rigid guidelines governing American policy. Aside from those considerations, Kennedy, his associates, and lawmakers in Congress had all spoken of the Monroe Doctrine both before and during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, so that a Kennedy Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine would have seemed superfluous.

Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, has received scholarly credit for various statements of principle; scattered references to a Johnson Doctrine do exist in the literature. In fact, scholars have identified two such doctrines: one relating to American policy in Southeast Asia, the other relating to U.S. policy in the Caribbean. The first Johnson Doctrine invoked several principles of recent American policy, including the Munich Analogy and the Truman Doctrine. He meant it to apply, however, specifically to Indochina. As he declared on 4 August 1964, the United States would "take all necessary measures in support of freedom and in defense of peace in Southeast Asia." This first Johnson Doctrine, then, was synonymous with the ensuing Tonkin Gulf Resolution; in fact, they were one and the same. Scholars nevertheless usually invoke the resolution rather than the president in their treatments of the episode.

Johnson's second statement, concerning communism in the Caribbean, mirrors the one Eisenhower made regarding the Middle East. Delivered on 2 May 1965, following the insertion of U.S. troops into the Dominican Republic, this first Johnson Doctrine pledged "the American nations" to prevent the establishment "of another communist government in the Western Hemisphere." Its wording indicated the frustration policymakers felt at having to live with one communist regime only ninety miles from the United States. While Johnson's actions in the Dominican Republic receive wide treatment in the literature, few scholars make reference to a "Johnson Doctrine" as such. Perhaps this is because of the "credibility gap" that opened up in the wake of the action. Claims that Dominican leftists were brutalizing the local populace and shooting at the U.S. embassy turned out to be false, prompting Americans to question the veracity of their president. Although the negative press Johnson received might have doomed his efforts to elevate the stature of his policy, equally rough treatment failed to prevent other grand statements, such as the one Stimson made, from rising to the level of doctrine.

In the postCold War era, the search for a guiding policy has proved frustrating and elusive, primarily because no international reality, such as that which followed World War II, has congealed. Nor were policymakers able to talk one into existence. President George H. W. Bush's "new world order" failed to materialize, although during the winter of 19901991 he was able to array a constellation of powers, the likes of which had never been seen, to resist the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Bush's successor, President William Jefferson Clinton, was no more successful in attaching his name to any grand declaration of policy. While Clinton often spoke out in support of human rights, the tardiness with which the United States and the international community addressed the horrors in Rwanda and the Balkans indicates, perhaps, a problem with making sweeping statements about such issues. Establishing a doctrinal position on the evils of ethnic cleansing, for example, a position that might commit the United States to eradicating those practices, would likely compel a president to make good on thata position that future presidents would likely resist.

Perhaps another reason for the absence of doctrinal statements lies with the nature of the international environment near the close of the twentieth century. The end of the Cold War brought with it a diminution of public concern over a host of high profile issues, including the possibility of superpower war. Matters of "high politics," then, such as those involving the United States and Russia over the proliferation or reduction of nuclear arms, seemed less important than matters of "low politics," such as global trade and economics. While the Balkan conflict carried the seeds of a much wider warindeed, that was part of the administration's reasoning for entering it in the first placeit never threatened the United States in ways that touched on the nation's very existence, in contrast to the superpower rivalry of the Cold War.

Still, during the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton, commentators attempted to affix doctrines to his name. None, however, seemed to have any staying power. Critics likened the Clinton Doctrine to a form of "social engineering," focusing on the president's attempts at nation building in Somalia or Haiti. Others have used the term when discussing Clinton's interest in "cooperative security" and his efforts to create an intricate web of economic interdependence. Again, only time will tell if these "doctrines" seep into the public consciousness.

Perhaps the most that can be said about the future of these grand statements of principle is that presidents will likely treat them as they have always treated themwith great amounts of discretion and latitude. Policymakers have routinely opted for liberal interpretations of these doctrinesthe Monroe Doctrine being a case in pointinvoking, discarding, or fudging their precepts at will. Nothing in the past offers any evidence for believing that future administrations will do otherwise.


Ammon, T. Harry. "The Monroe Doctrine: Domestic Politics or National Decision." Diplomatic History 5, no. 1 (winter 1981): 5370. This and the response from Ernest R. May in the same issue provide a snapshot of the debate surrounding the circumstances of the doctrine's enunciation.

Arnson, Cynthia J. Crossroads: Congress, the Reagan Administration, and Central America. New York, 1989.

Berman, Larry, ed. Looking Back on the Reagan Presidency. Baltimore, 1990.

Combs, Jerold A. "The Origins of the Monroe Doctrine: A Survey of Interpretations by United States Historians." Australian Journal of Politics and History 27, no. 2 (1981).

Crabb, Cecil V., Jr. The Doctrines of American Foreign Policy: Their Meaning, Role, and Future. Baton Rouge, La., 1982. The best monograph available on the origins, implications, and legacies of America's foreign policy doctrines, from the Monroe through Carter.

Daalder, Ivo. "And Now, a Clinton Doctrine?" Haagsche Courant (10 July 1999).

DeMuth, Christopher C., et al. The Reagan Doctrine and Beyond. Washington, D.C., 1988.

Ferrell, Robert. American Diplomacy in the Great Depression: Hoover-Stimson Foreign Policy, 19291933. New Haven, Conn., 1957.

Fischer, Beth A. The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War. Columbia, Mo., 1997.

Freeland, Richard M. The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthyism: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics, and Internal Security, 19461948. New York, 1972. Links the Truman speech with a corresponding loyalty-security program for containing communism at home.

Gaddis, John Lewis. "Reconsiderations: Was the Truman Doctrine a Real Turning Point?" Foreign Affairs 52, no. 2 (1974): 386402.

Gardner, Lloyd C. Architects of Illusion: Men and Ideas in American Foreign Policy, 19411949. Chicago, 1970. Includes a chapter on Dean Acheson's role in formulating the Truman Doctrine.

Garthoff, Raymond L. Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan. Washington, D.C., 1985.

. "Détente and Deterrence in the Cold War." Diplomatic History 22, no. 1 (winter 1998): 145148. On the Nixon Doctrine.

Gendzier, Irene. Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 19451958. New York, 1997. Covers the Eisenhower Doctrine.

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Jones, Joseph M. The Fifteen Weeks (February 21June 5, 1947). New York, 1955. Offers the perspective of a State Department official and speechwriter who authored the 12 March address; a classic account of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.

Kaplan, Lawrence S. "NATO and the Nixon Doctrine: Ten Years Later." Orbis 24, no. 1(1980): 149164.

. "The Monroe Doctrine and the Truman Doctrine: The Case of Greece." Journal of the Early Republic 13, no. 1 (1993):121.

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Perkins, Dexter. A History of the Monroe Doctrine. Rev. ed. Boston, 1955. The classic, and still the most persuasive, account of the doctrine.

Rabe, Steven. "The Johnson (Eisenhower) Doctrine for Latin America." Diplomatic History 9, no. 1 (1985).

Schmertz, Eric J., et. al., eds. President Reagan and the World. Westport, Conn., 1997.

Schweizer, Peter, ed. The Fall of the Berlin Wall : Reassessing the Causes and Consequences of the End of the Cold War. Stanford, Calif., 2000.

Smith, Gaddis. Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years. New York, 1986.

. The Last Years of the Monroe Doctrine, 19451993. New York, 1994.

Takeyh, Ray. The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain, and Nasser's Egypt, 195357. New York, 2000.

Teicher, Howard, and Gayle Radley Teicher. Twin Pillars to Desert Storm: America's Flawed Vision in the Middle East from Nixon to Bush. New York, 1993.

Telhami, Shibley. "Raise Stakes via a Clinton Doctrine." Los Angeles Times (3 November 1999).

Tucker, Robert W., ed. Intervention and the Reagan Doctrine. New York, 1985.

Wittner, Lawrence S. "The Truman Doctrine and the Defense of Freedom." Diplomatic History 4, no. 2 (spring 1980): 161187.

Xydis, Stephen G. Greece and the Great Powers, 19441947: Prelude to the Truman Doctrine. Thessalonika, Greece, 1963. Provides solid background on the situation in Greece.

Zakaria, Fareed. "The Reagan Strategy of Containment." Political Science Quarterly 105, no. 3 (autumn 1990): 373395.

See also Colonialism and Neocolonialism; Containment; Continental Expansion; Intervention and Nonintervention; Isolationism; The Munich Analogy; The National Interest; Recognition .


During the Cold War, America's allies and enemies also resorted to doctrinal statements of policy. Here are two of the more noteworthy declarations.

The Hallstein Doctrine This doctrine was enunciated by the West German foreign minister Walter Hallstein in the context of the struggle to codify the postwar fate of the two Germanys and the shape of Eastern Europe. The Soviets had proposed that the two sides end their wrangling over Berlin and ratify the boundaries of the two German states. West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who continued to endorse the Bonn government as the true government of Germany, resisted this plan and countered with his own statement of intentions. The Hallstein Doctrine declared that West Germany would have no relations with any country that recognized the existence ("entered into diplomatic relations") with the German Democratic Republic. The Bonn government followed through on its pledge, breaking off relations with Yugoslavia in 1957. Moscow's inability to settle the German question led Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, in 1958, to issue an ultimatum to the United States on the fate of Berlin, demanding the full incorporation of that city into East Germany. Failure to achieve that settlement heightened tensions over Berlin and contributed to Khrushchev's placement of missiles in Cuba in 1962. Cuba, in fact, became the second nation to run afoul of the Hallstein Doctrine, leading Bonn to break relations with Havana in 1960.

The Brezhnev Doctrine During the spring and summer of 1968, reformers in the Czechoslovak Communist Party, led by Alexander Dubcek, sought to create a new brand of socialism with a human face. Those moves, and the Czech leadership's resistance to Moscow's disapproval, occasioned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Defending his policy of force, Soviet premier Leonid I. Brezhnev maintained that "when internal and external forces that are hostile to socialism seek to reverse the development of any socialist country in the direction of restoring the capitalist system, when a threat to the cause of socialism in that country appears, and a threat to the security of the socialist community as a whole, that is no longer only a problem for the people of that country, but also a common problem, a matter of concern for all socialist countries." President Ronald Reagan would cite the Brezhnev Doctrine in his own doctrinal statement of principles.