Editorial Note

In accordance with NSC Action No. 22 (see footnote 2, page 28), Admiral Souers submitted to the National Security Council a second draft paper on “The Position of the United States With Respect to Greece”. This paper, dated February 2, 1948, not printed, was numbered NSC 5/1.

Mr. Henderson, in a memorandum of February 10 to Mr. McWilliams, gave his views on NSC 5/1. He made three major comments as follows:

“I regret that the paper does not contain a clear and definite statement that the United States should decide now that, with the consent of the Greek Government, it will send troops to Greece if necessary to prevent Greece from falling under Soviet domination. Such a decision may be made under Paragraph 10 in the ‘Conclusions’. However, that paragraph registers hesitation and indecision and is weakened by Paragraph 12, which calls for further submission of comments and recommendations [by the Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Resources Board and the Central Intelligence Agency] ‘as a necessary basis for any decision of the United States to use military power’. I believe that a clear-cut decision should be taken now and that further study should be directed to the best means of implementing the decision in case of need”;
“During the past few weeks we have received increasingly alarming reports from many sources regarding preparations being made by the Soviet satellites to furnish greater assistance to the Greek guerrillas. Taken together, these reports foreshadow the possibility of a serious assault in a few months time. The assault might well be so strong and so speedy that we would not wish to delay our own action [Page 40] while awaiting action by the UN General Assembly. In my opinion, it would be well to redraft Paragraph 13 in order that there can be no doubt that if Greece should appear to be in urgent danger we should assist with force. As now drafted, this paragraph provides that the United States respond to any recognition of the Markos group merely by seeking UN action. I should prefer to see it stated that we should take direct action, including possibly the despatch of American troops to Greece, or, alternatively or concurrently, appeal to the UN General Assembly, the nature of the moves to be determined by the circumstances at the time. The overriding consideration, of course, would be the degree of the military threat to Greece accompanying the act of recognition”; and
“The statement in Paragraph 7d to the effect that armed aggression by Soviet or satellite forces would justify military action under the provisions of the Charter of the UN might be taken to imply that a lesser aggression, such as the introduction of an international brigade as envisaged in Paragraph 7c, would not justify military action. We should not stand by while large foreign forces disguised as ‘international brigades’ are introduced into Greece, or while strong, well-armed and effective forces, even though not large, are being launched into Greece from the satellite countries. It is not the name but the fact which is important. I suggest, therefore, that the final clause of the second sentence of Paragraph 7d be stricken, this making it read: ‘Such overt attack by troops of a foreign government would of course be an act of war against Greece’.”

Paragraph 10 of NSC 5/1 read: “The United States should, therefore, make full use of its political, economic and, if necessary, military power in such manner as may be found most effective to prevent Greece from falling under the domination of the USSR either through external armed attack or through Soviet-dominated Communist movements within Greece, so long as the legally elected government of Greece evidences a determination to oppose such Communist aggression.”

Paragraph 13 read: “If recognition of the illegal ‘First Provisional Democratic Government of Greece’ is accorded by Albania, Bulgaria or Yugoslavia, the United States immediately should take the position that such recognition constitutes an open disregard of the resolution of October 21, 1947 of the UN General Assembly. The United States should also take the lead in urging consideration of the matter by appropriate organs of the United Nations, possibly by a special session of the UN General Assembly. The United States should be prepared

To propose that the UN call upon the governments extending recognition to withdraw such recognition within a designated period; and
If recognition is not withdrawn, to support a Greek request for a resolution calling on member states of the UN to render maximum assistance to Greece in any practicable way. Although such a resolution should not specifically mention military assistance, extreme care should be taken to insure that it does not preclude direct military assistance”;

Paragraph 7d read: “Armed aggression across present Greek borders by Soviet or satellite forces. Such overt attack by troops of a foreign government would be an act of war against Greece, justifying military action under the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Mr. Henderson concluded his memorandum with the statement that “NEA has not altered the views expressed in my memorandum to the Secretary of January 9. I hope, therefore, that that memorandum will be reviewed and will be taken in consideration by the members and staff of the National Security Council.”

NSC 5/2 and Mr. Henderson’s memorandum of February 10 are found in the Executive Secretariat Files, Lot 63–D351.