The 1947 Club is the first giving club at The Institute of World Politics . It is named for the year that America awoke to the existential threat of Soviet expansionism and assumed the burdens of leadership of the Free World.
The United States did not readily meet the challenge of confronting the Soviet menace after WWII. Indeed, it was not until 1947 that the U.S. addressed the reality that its wartime alliance with “Uncle Joe” Stalin and the USSR had been a matter of expedience and not one founded on common values and a shared vision for the post-war world. Speaking directly to the American people, who he knew were the only possible counterweight to Soviet dominance, Winston Churchill set the stage in 1946 with his famous Westminster speech, declaring, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic , an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
When the Soviet pincer reached for Greece and the Dardanelles , President Harry Truman had had enough. Truman had been suspicious of Soviet duplicity ever since his experience at the Potsdam Conference of 1945. “I am tired of babying the Soviets,” he wrote to Secretary of State James Byrnes. “Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language, another war is in the making. Only one language do they understand.”
In March 1947, Truman addressed Congress and announced what became known as the Truman Doctrine. It stated that henceforth it was “the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Inspired by George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” the Truman Doctrine gave birth to the policy of containment which served as the foundation for U.S. Cold War policy. It was an unmistakable shot across the Soviet bow, and was followed by aid packages of $400 million to Greece and $100 million to Turkey that successfully countered Soviet designs in the region. In June, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan; a month later, Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the National Security Council, the Air Force, and the CIA, and placing the Armed Services under the direction of a civilian Secretary of Defense.
In 1947, the Cold War began in earnest, and for the next 44 years, the United States led the Free World’s successful effort to confront and contain the evils of Soviet communism. At times, our attention wavered and we wearied of the struggle, but we prevailed in the end, and watched with well-earned pride the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later.
In commemorating the year of America ‘s awakening to the greatest existential threat to our security in the twentieth century, IWP’s 1947 Club is a symbol of vigilance and the necessity of recognizing and countering threats while they are still manageable. It is a symbol of our nation’s courage, its persistence, its goodness, and its greatness. Membership in the 1947 Club entails an annual contribution of $1,200 (which may be paid in monthly installments). This donation goes to fund programs that make it possible for our students to study here: scholarships, internships, and our work-study program. Please consider joining IWP’s 1947 Club and helping us build a foreign policy community that ensures we will always be ready to meet threats to our country and civilization with the same tenacity, courage, and vision as we did in 1947.