The National Security Legacy of Harry S. Truman

The National Security Legacy of Harry S. Truman

The National Security Legacy of Harry S. Truman

The National Security Legacy of Harry S. Truman


Harry S. Trumans national security legacy, as documented here by Truman scholars and political leaders on the 50th anniversary of the end of his presidency, is marked by a series of noteworthy foreign policy initiatives. Credited with establishing post-World War II order, Trumans political heritage also includes the creation of NATO and the United Nations, food and foreign aid programs, the Marshall Plan and the integration of the US armed forces. Contributions from distinguished former aides to President Truman and recognised national security experts make this book an especially important and unique read. Highlights include a conclusion by General Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and Bush and a foreword by Clifton Truman Daniel, President Trumans grandson.


One of the things about being Harry Truman's grandson is that wherever I go, people ask me to talk about him. I'm honored to do that, but I'm no expert on Harry Truman. He did not get many chances to impart political and historical wisdom to me. I had only been alive for fifteen years when he died, and he'd had to spend much of that time telling me to keep my feet off the tables and quit running in the house. As a result, much of what I know about his career comes from reading and listening to experts, people who worked with him and for him. In that regard, I've been very lucky, because my grandfather surrounded himself with some of the smartest, most dedicated people in government.

George Elsey, Ken Hechler, and Milton Kayle, who have contributed to this book, served the Truman administration honorably and effectively. All went on from the White House to distinguished careers—Milt as a prominent attorney, George as head of the American Red Cross and the White House Historical Association, and Ken as a congressman and secretary of state of West Virginia. (At nearly ninety-one, he was a percentage point away from being elected again!) Joining them in the following pages is General Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to two presidents, who is able to put into perspective the effect my grandfather's mid-twentieth-century policies have had on U.S. foreign policy and national security to this day.

My grandfather was famous for saying that there was nothing new in the world but the history you don't know, and I think that philosophy was one of the things that made him a great president. He knew very well the mistakes that leaders and nations had made over millennia, and he knew history would only repeat itself if he didn't do things differently. In doing just that, he reshaped the world for the better.

Clifton Truman Daniel June 2003 . . .

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