Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Bi-Polarity in the History Classroom , pp. 6 of 13

Group 1: International Developments

Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine, which promised economic and military assistance to countries “resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”, was introduced in March 1947. It was seen as the logical implementation of the containment policy adopted by the United States in response to Stalin’s speech on the inherent conflict between capitalism and communism. The containment was conceived of as an ideological response to perceptions of the Soviet Union attempting to “spread its influence and dominance over the world”.

Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan was announced in June 1947 by American Secretary of State, George Marshall and committed the USA to giving economic aid to reconstruct Europe and its economies. The Marshall Plan was seen as the economic arm of the Truman Doctrine by providing economic assistance to countries such as Britain and the Netherlands which were recovering from the structural damages of WWII. In doing so, this prevented the populations in post-war poverty from succumbing to communism as the more attractive political alternative. The Marshall Plan was extended to the Soviet Union and its satellite states but this provoked Stalin who perceived it as a form of economic imperialism and rejected the offer.  


The Soviet Union set up the Cominform in September 1947 to politically unite the communist states in Europe - all the satellite states of the Soviet Union were members. The Cominform was seen as a response to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan by uniting the satellite states and French and Italian communist parties with the Soviet Union as one political bloc. The Cominform, and subsequently its economic branch Comecon, was thus set up to align the ideological and economic actions of the global communist movements with that of the Soviet Union’s. In this light, the Cominform was the Soviet Union’s attempt at establishing a international communist alliance.

Bandung Conference

The Bandung Conference which took place in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement. This movement was made up of countries which just gained independence from colonial rule and sought to break the ideological dichotomy of the Cold War by advocating the third ideological strand of non-intervention. The countries in the Non-Aligned Movement hoped to reduce their reliance on either American or Soviet economic aid so that they were not ideologically and economically dominated by either superpower.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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