The Chargé in Greece ( Rankin ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 20—3:20 p.m.]
370. From Grady Mission for Henderson from Grady. I have assumed that operationally it would be unfeasible to maintain our mission in Greece indefinitely, not only because of expense involved but because of time limitation on War Dept’s commitments. For example, more than 100 officers and men of our military personnel are scheduled for demobilization in April and many of our civilians are otherwise committed.
Suggestion in Embtel 333, March 11, repeated in Embtel 355, March 16,57 was based upon my conviction that our Mission’s work here has tended to bolster confidence in fairness of elections; that they should be held as scheduled and that even if disposed to let the Greeks play politics it would be impracticable to hold our organization here if elections were postponed. Believing that so to inform the Greek Govt directly in advance might be interpreted as undue pressure, my suggestion for press statement by the Secretary was designed indirectly to strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand in adhering to his announced intention of holding elections on March 31st and also to influence participation by those who perhaps counting on our support are trying to obtain postponement by threatening to abstain if elections are held as scheduled.
The Secretary’s statements of March 1958 as reported in radio bulletin can scarcely be expected to serve either of these purposes. On contrary, statement has been interpreted by Greek newspapers as indicating that American Govt is not unsympathetic to postponement.
In the circumstances, it would seem prudent now to decide what [Page 124] we shall do in event we are faced with postponement. General Malony and I are in agreement that it does not seem feasible to maintain our organization here for any prolonged period.
Moreover our observation leads us to believe that what Greek Govt has been unable to accomplish in past 4 months is unlikely to be accomplished within any period of delay that we could accept from an operational standpoint. If Dept contemplates trying to maintain the mission in Greece beyond about April 10th, which is target date for departure if elections come off as planned March 31st, War Dept’s concurrence would of course be necessary and appropriate alterations made in plans, schedules, supplies, personnel, etc. I should be grateful if Dept would instruct me in the premises.
Deptel 337, March 1959 just received. [Grady.]