Policy Planning Staff Files, Lot 64–D563

Report Prepared by the Policy Planning Staff

top secret


United States Policy With Respect to Greece

Problem: To Determine the Attitude Which Should Be Taken by This Department in the Forthcoming Discussions in the National Security Council With Respect to Greece

Facts Bearing on the Case:

Recent developments in the Greek situation, particularly the establishment of a so-called free Greek Government and the increased scale of guerrilla attacks against the legitimate Greek Government, have led to examination in the Staff of the National Security Council of future U.S. policy with regard to Greece. An effort has been made [Page 22] to draft there a paper which could be submitted to the members of the Council. As a result, a paper has been prepared on the working staff level in the NSC and circulated to the various Departments. This paper is attached as Annex A.1
In view of the large number of offices involved in this question in the State Department and of the wide variety and divergence of the opinions brought to light by these discussions it has not been possible to reach full agreement within the Department on the substance or language of such a policy paper. It has, therefore, not been possible for the State Department member on the NSC Staff to give final concurrence to the paper on the NSC Staff level.
Since this subject is on the agenda of an NSC meeting called for Tuesday, January 13, it is evident that there will not be time to reconcile these views on the Staff level before the Council meets. This means that the members of the Council will be called upon to discuss the matter without having before them an agreed NSC Staff paper.
For this reason there are presented below a recapitulation and discussion of the main issues still unagreed on the working level and a redraft of the NSC Staff paper, embodying the views of the Policy Planning Staff.

Discussion of Main Issues:

The Sending of Forces to Greece. It is on the question of what should now be decided concerning the possible use of U.S. armed forces in Greece that a divergence of views exists, primarily between Mr. Henderson and others, on the one hand, and the Planning Staff, on the other.
Mr. Henderson’s views are set forth in his memorandum to the Secretary of January 9, a copy of which is attached for the sake of convenience, as Annex B.2 The Policy Planning Staff recognizes that these views reflect long and intimate experience with this problem and the most intense concern that we should arrive at a courageous and sound solution. It recommends that they be given most careful attention and consideration.
Mr. Henderson considers it essential that we decide definitely at this time that we would be prepared to send armed forces to Greece or elsewhere in the Mediterranean if it should become clear that the use of such forces is needed to prevent Greece from falling victim to direct or indirect aggression. He feels that such a decision is indispensable now as a mark of our determination to see this thing through in Greece at all costs.
The Planning Staff has the fullest sympathy with Mr. Henderson’s insistence on a firm and determined policy. It only questions whether [Page 23] the dispatch of U.S. armed forces would necessarily be the most efficacious means of achieving the final objective and whether an advance decision to send troops, if things get worse in Greece, would be a sound and suitable way to express this determination. We agree on the job to be done; but we are not sure that regular U.S. forces are the proper tool. We do not deny that they might be. We do not preclude the possibility that U.S. armed forces might be able to play a useful and possibly decisive role at some specific stage and through some specific mode of employment. But we do not feel that we have, at the present time, an adequate basis on which to make this judgment. We do not see where we will get such a basis in the near future, unless changes are made in the present U.S. command set-up in Greece; for there is at present no one in Greece, or indeed in the whole Middle Eastern area, whom we would consider fully qualified, both by official status and by individual qualification, to make the sort of balanced and comprehensive recommendations which would be required. And it seems to us undesirable that we should attempt to make decisions in Washington, on matters of such gravity, merely on the basis of the usual telegrams and reports from a variety of sources, and of such recommendations as we may receive from time to time from individual officers, none of whose competencies covers the whole field with which we are dealing.
The Command Problem. It is for this reason that great importance attaches to the command relationships in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean area. The NSC Staff paper (Annex A) states in paragraph 6 that “effective implementation of U.S. policy has also been hampered by lack of centralized control of American activities in Greece.”
The Policy Planning Staff agrees with this opinion and feels that measures must be taken to improve the situation.
The NSC Staff paper sets forth, in Articles 17 and 18, the two suggestions which have been made for achieving this improvement. They are not mutually exclusive; but they could also be regarded as alternatives.
The first would assign to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Mediterranean, authority to make recommendations to this Government regarding its policy on political-military matters and to promote the coordination of military activities in the whole eastern Mediterranean area.
The second would provide for the appointment of a qualified individual who would be senior U.S. representative in Greece and would combine the offices of Ambassador and of director of all U.S. activities in that country.
The Planning Staff sees merit in both suggestions and holds no strong opinion as to which is preferable. Much would depend, in either case, on the individual involved. But it is understood that the first has already been, in effect, rejected at higher level. The Staff is therefore recommending the second, which meets the views of the Army and Air Force and Mr. Henderson.
The Applicability of Article 51 of the UN Charter. There are two paragraphs in the NSC Staff paper which refer to Article 51 of the UN Charter as being applicable to certain situations which may arise on the Greek border.
The Legal Adviser of this Department does not consider the language of these paragraphs to be legally sustainable (His opinion3 is attached as Annex C.) The Staff is impressed with the arguments advanced by the Legal Adviser, and feels that these paragraphs should be omitted.


The Planning Staff’s recommendations for the paper which should be adopted by the National Security Council are embodied in the redraft of the NSC paper4 enclosed as Annex D. This redraft gives expression to the views of the Staff expressed above on the major issues; and it must be emphasized that it does not meet, in certain important respects, the views of Mr. Henderson and others.

The redraft includes a number of minor drafting changes over the original document. Most of these drafting changes can presumably be easily reconciled at staff level in the NSC when decisions on the major points have been taken.

The redraft is somewhat shorter than the original document.

  1. The same as NSC 5, January 6, p. 2.
  2. See p. 9.
  3. Ante, p. 15.
  4. Infra.