Toward An Entangling Alliance: American Isolationism, Internationalism, and Europe, 1901-1950

By Ronald E. Powaski | Go to book overview

7
The Collapse of the Grand Alliance, 1945-1947

The New President

Harry S. Trumansucceeded Franklin D. Roosevelt in the presidency determined to continue the domestic and foreign policies of his predecessor, including the attempt to create a collaborative relationship with the Soviet Union. Yet within two years after Truman entered the White House, the Grand Alliance had disintegrated, the United States and the Soviet Union had become bitter enemies, and what soon was called the Cold War had begun. Until this day, historians have debated the reasons for this major transformation in American foreign policy.

The new president was at least partly responsible for the breakup of the Grand Alliance. When Truman entered the presidency in April 1945 he knew little about foreign policy, and almost nothing about the complexities of Roosevelt's Soviet diplomacy. His entire experience in government had been in the arena of domestic affairs. After failing in a haberdashery business, he was elected a county official in his native Missouri. In 1934 he ran for and, with the support of "Boss" Tom Pendergast's Kansas City political machine, was elected to the U.S. Senate. Ten years later, he was nominated to be Roosevelt's vice-presidential running mate. Truman, who staunchly supported the New Deal and the president's foreign policy, and who had won acclaim for his work as the head of a Senate committee that had investigated the national defense program during the war, offended neither conservatives nor liberals, and as a result was considered a safe choice for the second spot on the ticket. But as vice president, following Roosevelt's election to a fourth term, Truman was excluded from the president's circle of advisers. In fact, between Roosevelt's return from Yalta and his death, Truman had met with him only twice. Truman was not informed about the Yalta accords, nor even the existence of the atomic bomb project, until after he was sworn in as Roosevelt's successor on April 12, 1945.1

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