CONTAINMENT POLICY [1947] Definition, History & Facts – Encyclopedia

CONTAINMENT POLICY: In October 1917, Bolshevik Revolution came in Russia. The system was based on the ideology that is called Communism which is an anti-thesis to the ideology of the West i.e Capitalism. 

At the beginning of the Russian Revolution, Russia didn’t take any such step which could prove to be dangerous in any way, but after world war 2 many such incidents occurred, which showed Russia’s ambition for the expansion of communist ideology, which was a threat to the Capitalist block.

containment policy

 And the Capitalist block considered it important to contain Communism in its earlier stages, otherwise, it could prove to be a very difficult thing for the whole world, to be divided into two blocks on an ideological basis. That’s why the USA considered it necessary to draw a containment policy against the communist block.


After the 2nd world war, few such incidents or events occurred which provided reasons for the USA to draw a containment policy against Communist Russia.


In 1944, Greece came under Britain. A sort of civil war was started in the country. There were almost 13,000 communist guerillas, who were supported by Yogoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, and particularly by Russia under Stalin.

Great Britain, due to her collapsed economy couldn’t support them, that’s why she withdrew from Greece. That situation in Greece alarmed President Truman, who took the step against Russia in the form of a containment policy.


During the weak conditions of Russia in the twentieth century, Turkey occupied its province of Khar. After the war, Russia started demanding back her territory, but Turkey intentionally refused to give back the territory to Russia, in order to check the capacities and limits of Russia. In this decision, Turkey was backed by the USA.


There was trouble in Persia as well. Persia had been occupied by Britain, USA, and USSR during world war 2

In 1946 the UK did withdraw its forces from Persia, according to the decision of the Postdam Conference. But Russia didn’t do so. They kept their hold in Azerbaijan. The USA protested but to no avail. In April 1946 Russia agreed to withdraw on two conditions i.e, reforms and the Soviet-Persian oil company.

In June Azerbaijan was returned to Persia, but in July 1947, she refused to by the April agreement with the Soviet Union. That created tension in the international world.

These were the main issue of 1946/47, which forced the US government to take an action against Russia’s aggressive and expansionist designs, in the form of a containment policy.


These are the main five ingredients of the containment policy.

  • Truman Doctrine
  • Marshall Plan
  • Creation of NATO


On March 12, 1947, a speech was delivered by president Truman of the USA in the joint session of congress, which is called the “Truman Doctrine”. That Truman Doctrine actually provides the basis for the containment policy. 

This was actually the announcement by the USA leaving her isolationist policy. After giving that doctrine the USA assumed the title of “world policeman”. It is said in the Truman Doctrine,

“Every nation must choose between the alternative ways of life, life is based upon the will of majority representatives, government, free election, a guarantee of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The other way of life is based upon the will of the minority forcibly imposed upon the majority —- it relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and suppression of personal freedom.

I believe it would be the policy of United States to support free peoples, who resisting attempted subjugations armed minorities or by outside pressure”. 

In this passage president, Truman indirectly mentioned Greece and Turkey and her (USA) intention to help them. This implied that the USA had decided finally to stop any further expansion of the Soviet Union at all costs.


Truman’s doctrine was criticized on many grounds e.g, Truman said that by helping Greece and Turkey, the USA was fighting against totalitarianism in defense of freedom. It was not based on logic. The reason was neither Greece nor Turkey was democratic.

Critics also maintain that by the Truman Doctrine the USA bypassed the UNO. it’s contented that if any assistance was to be given to Greece and Turkey, it should have been given through the UNO. Moreover, even if the USA wanted to act in the manner it actually did, the UNO should have been at least consulted before action was taken.

It’s also contented that the real object of President Truman was to achieve the vast deposits of oil in the middle east.

To quote President Truman,

“If the Russians were to control Iran’s oil, either directly or indirectly, the raw material balance of the world would undergo a serious change and it would be a serious loss for the economy of the western world.”


On 5 June 1947, secretary of state George Marshall delivered his famous speech at Harvard, which is remembered in world history by the name of “Marshall Plan”.

The marshall plan was an extension of the principle underlined in the Truman Doctrine. The plan dealt with Europe in general. It was essentially an economic plan. 

The European economy completely collapsed after world war 2 due to heavy expenditure on war. Moreover, in 1946 drought came to Europe. Severe cold also increased the problem. So it was George Marshall who gave his plan, in which he declared,

“ It’s logical for the USA to help fill the gap between European requirements and what they could afford to pay — the alternative would be economic, social, and political deterioration. ( This policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty distraction, and chaos ).

According to that plan, 13348800000 dollars were paid to European countries between 1948 —- 1952. It started the “European Recovery Programme”.

As regards the reactions to the Marshall Plan, it was welcomed in the USA, as it was directed against the USSR. In Europe the Marshall plan offer was like “Manna from Heaven” and it didn’t require much imagination to grasp it with favor. Eight countries refused to accept the plan i.e, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania.

As regards the Soviet reaction to the Marshall plan, it was condemned in the strongest possible terms. Against it, the Molotov plan was presented, according to which the USSR cut off, whatever flow of trade and commerce had been resumed between Eastern and Western Europe. But overall that plan was welcomed almost by all the European countries.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in March 1949. It included USA, Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. It had a permanent headquarter in Brussels. The supreme headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) at Versailles was initially commanded by General Eisenhower.

It was an essential defensive organization against communist aggression and a successful step towards European cooperation. Russia in opposition to this formed the Warsaw Pact Organization. However, Nato was at no time an equal match for the forces of Russia and her satellites.

 The real strength of the alliance was that it had the support of the US and its atomic weaponry. This became even more vital after September 1949, when the Russians exploded their first atomic bomb, thus breaking the American monopoly of this terrifying weapon.


On September 8, 1954, SEATO was signed in Manila, in order to stop the expansion of communism. The participants of this alliance were USA, ANZUS, Philippines, Thailand, UK, Pakistan, and France. The main purpose behind signing this treaty was to save Asian and particularly South East Asia from the communist ideology. But it was quite interesting that only three Asian states joined that alliance, but we can’t deny its importance in the containment policy.


That treaty was signed in 1955. The members of the Central Treaty Organization were Tukey and Iraq with the USA. In the beginning, it was called the “Baghdad Pact”, but after a change in the Iraqi government, it was sent toward Pakistan and Iran. The purpose behind that alliance was also the same i.e to contain communism.


If we look deep into the matter we’ll find two aspects of the containment policy of the USA i.e, negative and positive. As far as it’s positive is concerned, containment policy played an important role in stopping the expansion of communism. If Russia was not stopped at that moment, she could impose her own ideology in the world, especially in Europe, which could bring very severe results, such as a war could be started between communist and capitalist countries.

Moreover, Russia at that moment was so anxious about her ideology and its expansion that she could even involve other countries. That’s why, it was essential to stop her at the initial stage, which the USA did in the form of a containment policy very effectively.

As far as the negative aspect of containment policy is concerned, the major flaw of this containment policy was that it divided the world into two blocks. The rivalry between the two reached to peak.

The cold war was started between the two, which spread extreme tension in almost every corner of the world. Both of them never missed the chance to disturb the politics of others. Moreover, the idea of containment policy was against the idea of democracy. 

USA declared herself as a democratic country and now it was her moral duty not to interfere in the matters of others and let to do whatever they wish, so it wasn’t the duty of America to stop USSR or to interfere in her matters. Moreover, when due to the attitude of the USA and USSR, the world was divided into two blocks, which caused the economic depression in the world, due to which many innocent people had to suffer.


As, it’s a fact that every picture has two sides i.e, dark and light, similarly, containment policy had both negative and positive aspects. But, overall, it was a good policy, because it was the need of the time to contain the Soviet Union because of her aggressive designs against the world.

When was the containment policy?

Containment was a foreign policy strategy followed by the United States of America after the second world war. It was George Frost Kennan, an American diplomat, and historian, who presented the idea of containment policy in order to stop the expansion of the Soviet Union.

Which best describes the policy of containment?

The containment policy can best be described as preventing the expansion of communism ideology in the world.