868.00/11–1447: Telegram

Governor Dwight P. Griswold to the Secretary of State

top secret

Amag 471. Personal for Secretary Marshall. I have studied carefully new instructions set forth Department’s telegram 1803 November 7 (Gama 430) and feel compelled request reconsideration of those parts dealing with relationship between Ambassador and Chief of AMAG. Either new instructions show that I no longer have confidence of President and yourself or else, as I hope, new instructions were based on misconception of situation here and without realization of their practical effect. I concur fully that portion new instructions dealing with relations AMAG Chief and military and naval subordinates in field of operational advice. I am disturbed, however, that occasion of decision to furnish operational advice in accordance my recommendations was utilized to effect new instructions on relations between Ambassador and Chief.

New instructions by specifying that “Ambassador is and should be universally recognized as American representative in Greece charged with dealing with Greek Government on matter high policy as defined” and that “Embassy should be sole channel for dealing with Greek Government or other foreign officials on such matters except when Ambassador may approve or request direct approach by one of other American officials,” constitute fundamental change in my previous instructions. Those provided that I should have supreme authority in Greece over all American assistance, both civilian and military, and should determine and supervise the programs of American aid to Greece; that the mission should operate as an entity separate from the Embassy although working in close collaboration; and that the Ambassador [Page 405] should continue in charge of the conduct of “overall relations” with Greek Government and to have primary responsibility for all aspects of those relations “which are not directly related to the activities of the Mission.” In your Top Secret personal instructions of July 11 you indicated that the particular responsibilities of the Ambassador included “bringing about changes in Greek Government, question of holding elections, and matter of amnesty for political prisoners.”

I believe new instructions are also in conflict with spirit of the report submitted by Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which in paragraph 5 referred to Chief as being “responsible for entire program of assistance to Greece.” This position was affirmed to me by President and I so informed Congressman Sheppard in hearings on supplemental appropriation bill for 1948 (page 1267).

New instructions would basically change practical arrangements affecting Mission operations by giving Ambassador right to be sole contact with Greek Government on so-called high policy decisions and relegating Chief of AMAG to administrative and technical contacts with Greek Government. Such arrangements I believe totally unworkable. New instructions would actually establish two heads of Mission giving senior position and power to Ambassador but without giving him corresponding responsibility for Mission work, whereas Chief would be left with responsibility but little power of authority. Under new instructions it would not be possible for me to remain here as I could not do effective or efficient work. Economic, political and military questions are all interrelated here and inextricably interwoven with “high policy” questions; although only very rarely with political questions affecting long range relationship between Greece and US. As Greek Government operations are carried on it is physically impossible, to give one example, to separate budget problems from refugee problem, need for national defense corps, taxation, cooperativeness of individual ministers or of Greek General Staff, or even change in military leadership.

As another example, in attempting to hold the line against runaway inflation numerous vital policy decisions must be made affecting Greek political and military issues as well as almost every aspect Greek economic life. One such decision involved wage scales and threatened general strikes. The Mission was successful in bringing about the first collective bargaining agreement since pre-Metaxas2 days between trade unions, employers’ representatives and the Government. It would be basically impossible to change spokesman in compliance with new [Page 406] instructions that Embassy be sole channel each time a subject of “high policy” is mentioned to Greek Government and any attempt to do so would completely destroy effectiveness Mission in achieving objectives Greek aid statute. Furthermore, procedure would be invitation to Greeks to attempt play Ambassador and Chief against each other, and could also subject Ambassador to meeting dissatisfied groups and officials who would defer cooperation with Mission in hope of influencing individual having final authority.

In actual practice there has been increasingly close cooperation between Mission and Embassy. At no time has there been a single disagreement on objectives to be achieved. There was one relatively minor difference between Ambassador and myself as to degree of pressure which should be put on Greek Government to achieve change in Government desired by Department, Ambassador and Mission. Possibly in violation your Top Secret personal instructions I employed stronger pressure than Ambassador, fearing delay dangerous to Mission objectives resulting from normal diplomatic pressure; the results, I believe, justified this initiative. Only other difference between us was over wisdom of placing military operational advice under Chief of AMAG. We were both in full agreement on necessity operational advice. I believed politically and administratively such advice should be furnished within Greek aid statute and so recommended to Washington. I am convinced key to achievement American objectives Greece is mutual consultation and cooperation between Ambassador and myself, not change in fundamental relationship.

Whatever decision may be made on my request for reconsideration of the new instructions, I urge deletion paragraph 7 those instructions that “Greek Government and British authorities should be informed in general terms of relative responsibilities set forth this paper, and it should be made clear to them Ambassador sole channel for handling high policy questions.” Such information conveyed Greek Government would as usual soon be published and would be construed everywhere as split between Embassy and Mission and not merely repudiation of me personally but also repudiation of work of Mission to date. I fear American prestige would be lowered and ability US Government achieve objectives Greek aid statute impaired. Even if it were possible to keep such information secret, furnishing information requested to Greek and British authorities would stultify position of Chief and make it impossible for him whoever he may be to operate effectively.

If you believe Mission operations to date have been effective toward achieving intent Greek aid statute I earnestly recommend that there be no change in previous instructions relating to relations between Ambassador and Chief. If on other hand you believe administration [Page 407] AMAG has been unsuccessful, I then recommend that power and responsibility for all American aid program be placed in Ambassador.

As the President asked me to accept this difficult position and assured me I would have full authority I am sending him directly essentially identical telegram.3

  1. This telegram was received at 12:29 a. m., November 15.
  2. Gen. John Metaxas was Greek Prime Minister from 1936 to 1941.
  3. Amag 472, November 14, 7 a. m., not printed.