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#203: Truman's Second Term

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Air Force planes fly over the Capitol building on January 20, 1949, during the inaugural parade for President Harry Truman
Air Force planes fly over the Capitol building on January 20, 1949, during the inaugural parade for President Harry Truman

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember

(MUSIC)

This week in our series, we continue the story of America's thirty-third president, Harry Truman.

Truman was sometimes called an "accidental" president. He only became president because he was vice president when Franklin Roosevelt died in nineteen forty-five.

In the election of nineteen forty-eight, Truman ran for a full term. As we told you last week, many experts predicted he would lose. But voters chose him over the Republican Party candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of New York. Americans also elected a Congress with a majority from Truman's Democratic Party.

The president might have expected a Congress led by his own party to support his policies. But that did not always happen. Time after time, Democrats from southern states joined in voting with conservative Republicans. Together, these lawmakers defeated some of Truman's most important proposals. One of the defeated bills was a proposal for health care insurance for every American.

Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949
Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949

One of the major issues during Truman's second term was fear of communism. After World War Two, Americans watched as one eastern European nation after another became an ally of the Soviet Union. Soviet leader Josef Stalin wanted to see communism spread around the world. And Americans watched as China became communist in nineteen forty-nine, as forces led by Mao Zedong defeated the Chinese Nationalists after a civil war that had lasted more than ten years.

During this tense period, there were charges that communists held important jobs in the United States government. These fears, real or imagined, became known as the "Red Scare."

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: "Even if there were only one communist in the State Department -- (repeats) Even if there were only one Communist in the State Department, that would still be one communist too many."

(MUSIC)

A Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, led the search for communists in America. In speeches and congressional hearings, he accused hundreds of people of being communists or communist supporters. His targets included the State Department, the Army and the entertainment industry.

Senator McCarthy often had little evidence to support his accusations. Many of his charges would not have been accepted in a court of law. But the rules governing congressional hearings were different. So he was able to make his accusations freely.

Senator Joseph McCarthy
Senator Joseph McCarthy

Many people lost their jobs after they were denounced as communists. Some had to use false names to get work. A few went to jail briefly for refusing to cooperate with McCarthy.

The senator continued his anti-communist investigations for several years. By the early nineteen fifties, however, more people began to question his methods. Critics said he violated democratic traditions.

In nineteen fifty-four, the Senate finally voted to condemn his actions. McCarthy died three years later.

(MUSIC)

There were problems caused by the fear of communists at home. But  President Truman also had to deal with the threat of communism in other countries.

He agreed to send American aid to Greece and Turkey. He also supported continuing the Marshall Plan. That was the huge economic aid program that helped rebuild western Europe after World War Two. Many historians say the Marshall Plan prevented western Europe from becoming communist.

The defense of western Europe against Soviet communism led Truman to support the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO began in nineteen forty-nine with the United States, Britain, Canada, France and eight other nations.

The treaty that created NATO stated that a military attack on any member would be considered an attack on all of them.

Truman named General Dwight Eisenhower to command the new organization. General Eisenhower had been supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe in World War Two.

In his swearing-in speech in nineteen forty-nine, Truman urged the United States to lend money to other countries to aid their development. He also wanted to share American science and technology.

In nineteen fifty-one, the president asked Congress to establish a new foreign aid program. The aid would go to countries threatened by communist forces in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America. Truman believed the United States would be stronger if its allies were stronger.

President Truman believed that many of the world's problems could be settled by other means besides military force. But he supported and used military power throughout his presidency.

On June twenty-fifth, nineteen fifty, forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. Two days later, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution urging UN members to help South Korea resist the invasion. At first President Truman agreed to send American planes and ships. Later he agreed to send American ground forces.

The president knew his decision could start World War Three if the Soviet Union entered the war on the side of communist North Korea. Yet he felt the United States had to act. Later, he said it was the most difficult decision he made as president.

Truman named Army General Douglas MacArthur to command all United Nations forces in South Korea.

Most of the fighting in the Korean War took place along the geographic line known as the thirty-eighth parallel. This line formed the border between North and South Korea.

Many victories on the battlefield were only temporary. One side would capture a hill; then the other side would recapture it.

In September of nineteen fifty, Mac Arthur led the UN land and sea attack at Inchon, pushing the North Koreans back across the border. There was hope that the war could end by Christmas, December twenty-fifth.

In late November, however, troops from China joined the North Koreans. Thousands of Chinese soldiers helped push the UN troops south. General MacArthur wanted to attack Chinese bases in Manchuria. President Truman said no. He did not want the fighting to spread beyond the Korean peninsula. Again, he feared that such a decision could start another world war.

MacArthur strongly believed he could end the war quickly by extending it to the Chinese mainland. He publicly denounced Truman's policy, saying "There is no substitute for victory."

Truman felt that the general left him no choice. In April of nineteen fifty-one, he dismissed MacArthur.

HARRY TRUMAN: "It was with the deepest personal regret that I found myself compelled to take this action. General MacArthur is one of our greatest military commanders. But the cause of world peace is much more important than any individual."

(MUSIC)

In the United States, military leaders are expected to obey their commander in chief -- the president. While some Americans approved of the general's dismissal, many others supported MacArthur. Millions greeted him when he returned to the United States. There were huge parades in his honor in San Francisco and New York.

In fact, few leaders in the twentieth century could boast the support MacArthur had. Almost seven million people attended the ticker tape parade given to him by New York City. And that almost doubled the size of the one given to another returning World War Two hero, General Dwight Eisenhower.

MacArthur gave his farewell speech to a joint session of Congress on April nineteenth nineteen fifty-one.

MACARTHUR: "I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good Bye." [Applause]

(MUSIC)

On the Korean Peninsula, the war continued. Ceasefire talks began in July of nineteen fifty-one. But the conflict would last for another two years until a truce was declared. The Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed on July twenty-seventh nineteen fifty-three.

(MUSIC)

Nineteen fifty-two was a presidential election year in the United States. Harry Truman was losing popularity because of the continuing war in Korea and economic problems at home. At the same time, Dwight Eisenhower, a military hero from World War Two, was thinking of running for president as the Republican candidate.

Harry Truman had made many difficult decisions as president. In March of nineteen fifty-two, he made one more. He announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election.

The nineteen fifty-two presidential election will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts, and pictures at www.unsv.com. And you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

Contributing: David Jarmul

This was program #203. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

杜鲁门人称"意外总统",因为他是在1945年罗斯福总统突然去世后,才继任总统职务的。在1948年总统大选中,杜鲁门当选连任,击败了共和党候选人--纽约州州长杜威,杜鲁门所在的民主党也夺回了国会参众两院的多数席位。

按说,民主党控制的国会应该让杜鲁门的政策畅通无阻,但实际情况并非如此。国会里的南方民主党人一次又一次联合保守派共和党人,挫败了杜鲁门很多最重要的提案,其中包括全民医保提案。

杜鲁门第二个任期内最重要的问题之一是对共产主义的担忧。第二次世界大战后,美国人眼睁睁看着东欧一个又一个国家加入苏联阵营,苏联领导人斯大林希望将共产主义推广到世界上的每一个角落。

美国人也清楚地看到,经过十多年内战,毛泽东领导的武装力量最终打败了国民党,1949年在中国建立了共产党政权。这段时期内,有人指责说,美国政府里一些重要职务也被共产党人所控制。这些或真或假的恐惧,就是所谓的"红色恐慌"。

美国来自威斯康辛州的共和党参议员约瑟夫.麦卡锡带头在美国搜查共产党份子。麦卡锡参议员曾说过:"就算国务院里只有一个共产党人,也是太多了。"

麦卡锡在国会讲话和听证会上,先后指责几百个人是共产党或是共产党的支持者,被他攻击的对象包括美国国务院、美国陆军和美国的影视娱乐行业。

麦卡锡参议员的指控往往是没有事实根据的。如果是在法庭上,这些指控根本站不住脚,但国会听证规矩不一样,他因此可以随心所欲地指责某某人是共产党人。

很多被麦卡锡说成是共产党份子的人,都因此失去了工作,有些人不得不隐藏真实身份,用假名字找工作,还有一些人因为拒绝跟麦卡锡合作而被投入大牢。

麦卡锡反共的调查行动持续了几年的时间。五十年代初,越来越多的人开始对他的做法提出质疑,批评者说,他这样做违背了民主传统。1954年,美国国会参议院终于投票,对麦卡锡的行动表示谴责,三年过后,麦卡锡离开了人世。

对共产党人的恐惧在美国国内造成了问题。与此同时,杜鲁门总统还要面对其他国家共产浪潮所带来的威胁。

杜鲁门同意向希腊和土耳其提供援助,并支持推行马歇尔计划,帮助西欧战后重建。很多历史学家都说,正是因为马歇尔计划,西欧才没被共产力量所控制。

为帮助西欧抵御苏联,在杜鲁门的支持下,1949年成立了北大西洋公约组织,成员国包括美国、英国、加拿大、法国和另外八个国家。北大西洋公约规定,对一个成员国的攻击,就是对所有成员国的攻击。杜鲁门任命曾任二战欧洲盟军总指挥的艾森豪威尔将军担任北约最高司令。

杜鲁门在1949年的宣誓就职演说中,敦促美国借钱给别的国家,支援它们的发展,他还希望分享美国的先进科学和技术。

1951年,杜鲁门要求国会建立一个新的外援项目,援助对象是欧洲、中东,北非、东亚、南亚和拉丁美洲地区受到共产力量威胁的国家。杜鲁门相信,盟国的强大会让美国更加强大。

杜鲁门觉得,国际社会中的很多问题都可以通过武力以外的方式解决,但是他在担任总统期间,一直支持使用武力。

1950年6月25号,朝鲜进攻韩国。两天过后,联合国安理会通过决议,敦促联合国成员国帮助韩国抵抗侵略。杜鲁门总统起初只同意派遣美国战斗机和战舰,但是后来又同意派遣美国地面部队。

杜鲁门很明白,如果苏联也加入这场冲突,站在朝鲜一边,那么他的决定就可能会引发第三次世界大战。然而,杜鲁门认为美国必须采取行动。他后来曾表示,这是他当总统所做出的最艰难的决定。

杜鲁门任命麦克阿瑟将军为驻韩国的联合国部队总指挥官。韩战主要沿南北韩分界处的三八线展开,交战双方势均力敌,一方抢占一个山头,不久又会被对方夺走。1950年9月,麦克阿瑟在仁川发动水陆进攻,迫使朝鲜退回到三八线另一端。大家本希望,这场战争能在圣诞节前结束。

然而,中国11月底出兵帮助朝鲜,数以万计的中国士兵将联合国部队向南推。麦克阿瑟将军想攻打中国东北,但是杜鲁门不同意,他不希望让战火烧到朝鲜半岛以外,担心会引发又一场世界大战。

麦克阿瑟坚信,把战场扩大到中国,就一定能速战速决。他公开反驳杜鲁门的政策,说"胜利是无可取代的"。杜鲁门没办法,1951年4月解除了麦克阿瑟的职务。

杜鲁门说:"带着深切的遗憾,我不得不采取这一行动。麦克阿瑟将军是最伟大的军事领导人之一,但是世界和平比任何一个个人都重要得多。"

在美国,军方将领必须听从总统的命令,因为总统是国家最高军事统帅。虽然有些美国人赞成解除麦克阿瑟的职务,但是另外一些人却站在他的一边。麦克阿瑟返回美国时,受到数百万人的欢迎,旧金山和纽约等城市还为他举行了盛大游行。

事实上,美国20世纪没有几位领导人的呼声能跟麦克阿瑟相提并论。纽约市为麦克阿瑟举行的大游行有将近七百万人参加,是为二战英雄艾森豪威尔举行的大游行参加人数的近两倍。麦克阿瑟1951年4月19号在国会联席会议上发表告别讲话。

麦克阿瑟说:"我即将结束我52年的军旅生涯。我是上个世纪参军的,参军实现了我儿时的梦想和愿望。从我在西点军校宣誓至今,世界已经历了多次变化,童年的希望和梦想也早已消失,但我依然记得当年流行的一首军歌,歌词自豪地反复唱道,老兵永远不死,他们只会淡出舞台。我就是歌词里说的老兵,即将结束我的军旅生涯,即将淡出舞台,我就是个老兵,通过上帝赐予的光芒,看到了自己的职责,并努力去完成自己的职责。再见了。"

朝鲜半岛上的战火继续燃烧。停火谈判从1951年7月开始,但是冲突又持续了整整两年,朝鲜半岛停火协定是1953年7月27号签署的。

1952年是美国大选年。韩战和国内经济问题的继续,使杜鲁门的民众支持率下降。与此同时,二战英雄艾森豪威尔将军也在考虑参加共和党总统候选人的角逐。做为总统,杜鲁门做出过很多艰难的决策,其中之一是,1952年3月,杜鲁门宣布,他不准备参加1952年的总统选举。

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