Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

In all his studies of American history and his ten years in the U.S. Senate he had never seen such back-stabbing and disregard of the President. Regardless of his pledged word, regardless of the Democratic platform commitments, regardless of Soviet threats, the establishment officials as represented by Dean Rusk, Max Ball, George Ball, George Kennan, Robert Lovett, Loy Henderson, and James Forrestal tried to conduct their own version of American foreign policy. They refused to follow Truman's policies even after he had very carefully specified them.

Even after he extended recognition they pretended that it was tentative and tried to keep England in the area as the mandate power and to appease Arab extremists. Above all they wanted to do away with the Jewish state idea. Truman could not afford to ignore them. He had to fight and win not only for the sake of his presidency, but for the Presidency and American democracy.

Some State and Defense officials expressed surprise that Truman recognized Israel, but they need not have been surprised if they had followed his policies instead of trying to sabotage them. 50 The Israelis made partition a reality and recognition added to that reality, but the road to peace and security for Israel was still a very long one. On November 29, 1948, Truman wrote to Weizmann: ". . . I was struck by the common experience you and I have recently shared. We had both been abandoned by the so-called realistic experts of our supposedly forelorn lost causes. Yet we both kept pressing for what we were sure was right-- and we were both proven to be right."51

The man from Independence had moments of hesitation when it came to the question of Israel. Like F.D.R. before him and the many presidents after him Truman tried to follow a middle ground between the Arabs and the Israelis, something which neither side could appreciate, but he did support the new state and he saw great hope for all the people of the Middle East. He envisioned Israel as a beacon of light that would help stimulate economic and industrial growth throughout that part of the world. Through the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and Point Four self-help programs he provided aid to all those states that were prepared to help themselves. As he put it to this writer in 1962, America had sent a team of TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) engineers and experts to help advise the Iraqi government on how to develop the Tigris and Euphrates. Those experts came up with a plan to develop that region which could sustain sixty million people. Iraq made no use of that plan. "The plan is in my library. They can have it for free."52


NOTES
1.
Individual's Files, Zionist Archives, New York.
2.
Harry Truman, Years of Trial and Hope ( New York, 1956), pp. 69, 134.
3.
Foreign Relations of the United States, June 27, 1945, 8, 713-15.
4.
Truman, Years of Trial, p. 137.
5.
Truman to Attlee, August 31, 1945, President's Official File 204, Truman Library.

-65-

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