Was the Truman presidency a mistake?

May 2019
281
Northern and Western hemispheres
Did he needlessly nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki? While anti-communist way of thinking was quite justified to a certain degree, some like Senator Mccarthy took it too far. There was always something suspicious about President Truman's policy of containment. His attitudes might have contributed to the breakup of the Anti-Fascist coalition and the Sino-American relationship that had worked to defeat the imperial Japanese. Feel free to contribute your thoughts to his thread here.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,995
Dispargum
Had FDR lived I'm sure he would have made the same decision about the A-bombs.

The most likely alternative to Containment was a more aggressive anti-Communist policy. The wartime alliance with the Soviets had always been an alliance of convenience. It was not likely to survive the end of the war. Anti-Communist feeling in the West had existed as early as the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. In the 1920s and '30s the Soviets had been equally suspicious of the democracies and the fascist states. The Cold War was not so much something new as a return to normal - a little more intense perhaps, but not much more.

The US remained on good terms with the Chiang regime into the 1970s. Truman did not end the Sino-American relationship. Mao did that.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,741
Las Vegas, NV USA
If Roosevelt kept Henry Wallace there never would have been a Cold War. The US would have become 48 Soviet republics. Alaska would go straight to Russia and Hawaii? Who cares? o_O
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,514
Caribbean
Did he needlessly nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki? While anti-communist way of thinking was quite justified to a certain degree, some like Senator Mccarthy took it too far. There was always something suspicious about President Truman's policy of containment. His attitudes might have contributed to the breakup of the Anti-Fascist coalition and the Sino-American relationship that had worked to defeat the imperial Japanese. Feel free to contribute your thoughts to his thread here.
What do you mean a mistake? In US Const, when Pres dies, VP assumes powers. Or do you mean he made mistakes? Or did FDR make a mistake and pick the wrong stooge?

Generally, it is difficult for me to accept public statements of the US government that they were containing communism at face value. The US helped the Bolsheviks in the beginning, helped the Five-Year Plans, and built up the the Stalin war machine with Lend Lease - and then "contained" the beast by letting it take half of Europe. And if you check things like the IMF and the World Bank, you will see that the US was putting money in, while Moscow was taking money out. And what did they do in Korea? Contain it to half a peninsula instead of a whole peninsula?

As to McCarthy, - well - compared to occurs in later years, if you are falsely accused of colluding with Moscow....McCarthy seems like a tempest in a teapot. You might consider the language of Truman's (unconstitutional, of course) Emergency Proclamation 2914. It puts the entire nation on a supposed anti-communist war footing. It that "summons" all military, state and local officials, farmers, and every citizen to defend the nation from this international malignant "menace" to everything the American people had built wit God's help? Sounds serious, no? And in such an environment, does it make sense that McCarthy alone "took it too far?" Did he nuke anyone? Kill anyone? Arrest anyone?

I'll put the text of Truman's Emergency Proclamation below, so you can better asses "mistakes."
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kubis Gabcik

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,514
Caribbean
Proclamation 2914

WHEREAS recent events in Korea and elsewhere constitute a grave threat to the peace of the world and imperil the efforts of this country and those of the United Nations to prevent aggression and armed conflict; and

WHEREAS world conquest by communist imperialism is the goal of the forces of aggression that have been loosed upon the world; and

WHEREAS if the goal of communist imperialism were to be achieved, the people of this country would not longer enjoy the full and rich life they have with God's help built for themselves and their children; they would no longer enjoy the blessings of the freedom of worshiping as they severally choose, the freedom of reading and listening to what they choose, the right of free speech including the right to criticize their Government, the right to choose those who conduct their Government, the right to engage freely in collective bargaining, the right to engage freely in their own business enterprises, and the many other freedoms and rights which are a part of our way of life; and

WHEREAS the increasing menace of the forces of communist aggression requires that the national defense of the United States be strengthened as speedily as possible:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, do proclaim the existence of a national emergency, which requires that the military, naval, air and civilian defenses be strengthened as speedily as possible to the end that we may be able to repel any and all threats against our national security and to fulfill our responsibilities in the efforts being made through the United Nations and otherwise to bring about lasting peace.

I summon all citizens to make a united effort for the security and well-being of our beloved country and to place its needs foremost in thought and action that the full moral and material strength of the Nation may be readied for the dangers which threaten us.

I summon our farmers, our workers in industry, and our businessmen to make a mighty production effort to meet the defense requirements of the Nation, and to this end to eliminate all waste and inefficiency and to subordinate all lesser interests to the common good.

I summon every person and every community to make, with a spirit of neighborliness, whatever sacrifices are necessary for the welfare of the Nation.

I summon state and local leaders and officials to cooperate fully with the military and civilian defense agencies of the Untied States for the national defense program. I summon all citizens to be loyal to the principles upon which our Nation is founded, to keep faith with our friends and allies, and to be firm in our devotion to the peaceful purposes for which the United Nations was founded.

I am confident that we will meet the dangers that confront us with courage and determination, strong in the faith that we can thereby "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and cause the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this 16th day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-fifth.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kubis Gabcik

Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,790
Eastern PA
When Truman is criticized for authorizing the nuclear bombing, it is always done with the breadth of knowledge about the negative consequences acquired about nuclear weapons in the ensuing decades.

The Trinity test was performed only 3 weeks before Hiroshima and there was significant uncertainty among the participants if the test would even produce an explosion. Further, the Manhattan project was was a secret effort and very few were aware of the objectives, let alone the consequences of the project. A smaller segment had any concept of possible negative effects resulting for a nuclear explosion. A vastly smaller portion of these people were in a position to offer advice to either Truman and/or his top aides. Essentially, this information side of the scales were loaded with a feather or two.

On the other hand, a large number of people were capable of making somewhat accurate projections of the costs in men and materials that would be involved in an actual invasion of the home islands. This information side of the scales were loaded with several sandbags.

The Japanese were not conducting any official, sanctioned peace efforts to end the war and/or forestall an invasion in the first week of August, 1945. This should be looked at as adding additional weight on the one side of the decision scales.

All in all, I think that anyone sitting in the Oval Office would have made the exact same decision as Truman.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,369
Kansas
Did he needlessly nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki? While anti-communist way of thinking was quite justified to a certain degree, some like Senator Mccarthy took it too far. There was always something suspicious about President Truman's policy of containment. His attitudes might have contributed to the breakup of the Anti-Fascist coalition and the Sino-American relationship that had worked to defeat the imperial Japanese. Feel free to contribute your thoughts to his thread here.
If he had not nuked Japan I suspect he would have been impeached as soon as people realized such a weapon existed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Menshevik
Sep 2019
486
Slovenia
Policy of USA presidents Roosevelt and Truman toward communism were mismanaged in great part by Soviet spies and their sympathizers in the USA administration itself. Roosevelt was very deluded in that sense. Truman however was more aware of the danger, but his policy of containment was limited only to Europe, China was lost to totalitarian communism much because of policy of Roosevelt and Truman. Only when the war in Korea started policy of contaiment was applied also to other parts of the world. People like senator McCarran, JFK,, William Bullitt, William Knowland, and even Joe McCarthy should be more remembered in the way of their contribution to end this circle of mismanaged USA policy toward communism than as being to radical. Slogan of Joe McCarthy from 1952 when Stalin and Mao were preparing further spread of global communism by force was a proper one for that time: McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.

The goal of Soviet spies and conspiracy at that time was not such much to take over USA. First goal was to shape USA foreign policy in a way suitable for USSR. To nurture the idea that USA and USSR will devide the world in spheres of influence and shape those spheres in the line with Soviet goals. And they were pretty successful in this up to the time of Korean war.

More about this here also with the many names of communist spies and their sympathizers and supporters:



Churchill was much more aware of communist global danger. His action in December 1944 saved Greece from communist rule while Roosevelt and his men were against British action us he wrote in 1954 in his memories about WW2. Churchill also ordered plan for Operation Unthinkable planning that after Third Reich is defeated it may be neccessary to force USSR and Stalin to respect agreements about eastern Europe so that coutries like Poland or Czechoslovakia would not be swallowed by communism. But USA under Truman was probably to much concerned about Japan making agreement with USSR to attack Japan in China where Japanese had a lot of military industry. It would be much better to sent USA troops in China to help KMT forces and mr. Chiang Kai-shek. in fight against Japan. That would be better for China, Europe and maybe even atomic bomb would not be needed.

 
Last edited:

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,514
Caribbean
When Truman is criticized for authorizing the nuclear bombing, it is always done with the breadth of knowledge about the negative consequences acquired about nuclear weapons in the ensuing decades.
Basically, this post continues by using ignorance on the part of Truman as a defense for his decision. Maybe, in fact, he was. Are there any official documents to show that Truman thought nukes would be less destructive than firebombing had been on other cities of Japan? What did they tell him - Harry, they're like big firecrackers?

All in all, I think that anyone sitting in the Oval Office would have made the exact same decision as Truman.
I can think of one who wouldn't.
 
Last edited: