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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.666321.live. 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.

杜魯門人稱"意外總統",因為他是在1945年羅斯??偨y突然去世后,才繼任總統職務的。在1948年總統大選中,杜魯門當選連任,擊敗了共和黨候選人--紐約州州長杜威,杜魯門所在的民主黨也奪回了國會參眾兩院的多數席位。

按說,民主黨控制的國會應該讓杜魯門的政策暢通無阻,但實際情況并非如此。國會里的南方民主黨人一次又一次聯合保守派共和黨人,挫敗了杜魯門很多最重要的提案,其中包括全民醫保提案。

杜魯門第二個任期內最重要的問題之一是對共產主義的擔憂。第二次世界大戰后,美國人眼睜睜看著東歐一個又一個國家加入蘇聯陣營,蘇聯領導人斯大林希望將共產主義推廣到世界上的每一個角落。

美國人也清楚地看到,經過十多年內戰,毛澤東領導的武裝力量最終打敗了國民黨,1949年在中國建立了共產黨政權。這段時期內,有人指責說,美國政府里一些重要職務也被共產黨人所控制。這些或真或假的恐懼,就是所謂的"紅色恐慌"。

美國來自威斯康辛州的共和黨參議員約瑟夫.麥卡錫帶頭在美國搜查共產黨份子。麥卡錫參議員曾說過:"就算國務院里只有一個共產黨人,也是太多了。"

麥卡錫在國會講話和聽證會上,先后指責幾百個人是共產黨或是共產黨的支持者,被他攻擊的對象包括美國國務院、美國陸軍和美國的影視娛樂行業。

麥卡錫參議員的指控往往是沒有事實根據的。如果是在法庭上,這些指控根本站不住腳,但國會聽證規矩不一樣,他因此可以隨心所欲地指責某某人是共產黨人。

很多被麥卡錫說成是共產黨份子的人,都因此失去了工作,有些人不得不隱藏真實身份,用假名字找工作,還有一些人因為拒絕跟麥卡錫合作而被投入大牢。

麥卡錫反共的調查行動持續了幾年的時間。五十年代初,越來越多的人開始對他的做法提出質疑,批評者說,他這樣做違背了民主傳統。1954年,美國國會參議院終于投票,對麥卡錫的行動表示譴責,三年過后,麥卡錫離開了人世。

對共產黨人的恐懼在美國國內造成了問題。與此同時,杜魯門總統還要面對其他國家共產浪潮所帶來的威脅。

杜魯門同意向希臘和土耳其提供援助,并支持推行馬歇爾計劃,幫助西歐戰后重建。很多歷史學家都說,正是因為馬歇爾計劃,西歐才沒被共產力量所控制。

為幫助西歐抵御蘇聯,在杜魯門的支持下,1949年成立了北大西洋公約組織,成員國包括美國、英國、加拿大、法國和另外八個國家。北大西洋公約規定,對一個成員國的攻擊,就是對所有成員國的攻擊。杜魯門任命曾任二戰歐洲盟軍總指揮的艾森豪威爾將軍擔任北約最高司令。

杜魯門在1949年的宣誓就職演說中,敦促美國借錢給別的國家,支援它們的發展,他還希望分享美國的先進科學和技術。

1951年,杜魯門要求國會建立一個新的外援項目,援助對象是歐洲、中東,北非、東亞、南亞和拉丁美洲地區受到共產力量威脅的國家。杜魯門相信,盟國的強大會讓美國更加強大。

杜魯門覺得,國際社會中的很多問題都可以通過武力以外的方式解決,但是他在擔任總統期間,一直支持使用武力。

1950年6月25號,朝鮮進攻韓國。兩天過后,聯合國安理會通過決議,敦促聯合國成員國幫助韓國抵抗侵略。杜魯門總統起初只同意派遣美國戰斗機和戰艦,但是后來又同意派遣美國地面部隊。

杜魯門很明白,如果蘇聯也加入這場沖突,站在朝鮮一邊,那么他的決定就可能會引發第三次世界大戰。然而,杜魯門認為美國必須采取行動。他后來曾表示,這是他當總統所做出的最艱難的決定。

杜魯門任命麥克阿瑟將軍為駐韓國的聯合國部隊總指揮官。韓戰主要沿南北韓分界處的三八線展開,交戰雙方勢均力敵,一方搶占一個山頭,不久又會被對方奪走。1950年9月,麥克阿瑟在仁川發動水陸進攻,迫使朝鮮退回到三八線另一端。大家本希望,這場戰爭能在圣誕節前結束。

然而,中國11月底出兵幫助朝鮮,數以萬計的中國士兵將聯合國部隊向南推。麥克阿瑟將軍想攻打中國東北,但是杜魯門不同意,他不希望讓戰火燒到朝鮮半島以外,擔心會引發又一場世界大戰。

麥克阿瑟堅信,把戰場擴大到中國,就一定能速戰速決。他公開反駁杜魯門的政策,說"勝利是無可取代的"。杜魯門沒辦法,1951年4月解除了麥克阿瑟的職務。

杜魯門說:"帶著深切的遺憾,我不得不采取這一行動。麥克阿瑟將軍是最偉大的軍事領導人之一,但是世界和平比任何一個個人都重要得多。"

在美國,軍方將領必須聽從總統的命令,因為總統是國家最高軍事統帥。雖然有些美國人贊成解除麥克阿瑟的職務,但是另外一些人卻站在他的一邊。麥克阿瑟返回美國時,受到數百萬人的歡迎,舊金山和紐約等城市還為他舉行了盛大游行。

事實上,美國20世紀沒有幾位領導人的呼聲能跟麥克阿瑟相提并論。紐約市為麥克阿瑟舉行的大游行有將近七百萬人參加,是為二戰英雄艾森豪威爾舉行的大游行參加人數的近兩倍。麥克阿瑟1951年4月19號在國會聯席會議上發表告別講話。

麥克阿瑟說:"我即將結束我52年的軍旅生涯。我是上個世紀參軍的,參軍實現了我兒時的夢想和愿望。從我在西點軍校宣誓至今,世界已經歷了多次變化,童年的希望和夢想也早已消失,但我依然記得當年流行的一首軍歌,歌詞自豪地反復唱道,老兵永遠不死,他們只會淡出舞臺。我就是歌詞里說的老兵,即將結束我的軍旅生涯,即將淡出舞臺,我就是個老兵,通過上帝賜予的光芒,看到了自己的職責,并努力去完成自己的職責。再見了。"

朝鮮半島上的戰火繼續燃燒。?;鹫勁袕?951年7月開始,但是沖突又持續了整整兩年,朝鮮半島?;饏f定是1953年7月27號簽署的。

1952年是美國大選年。韓戰和國內經濟問題的繼續,使杜魯門的民眾支持率下降。與此同時,二戰英雄艾森豪威爾將軍也在考慮參加共和黨總統候選人的角逐。做為總統,杜魯門做出過很多艱難的決策,其中之一是,1952年3月,杜魯門宣布,他不準備參加1952年的總統選舉。

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