The Ambassador in Greece (Grady) to the Secretary of State
319. Bevin has conveyed to me through Norton his personal satisfaction at British-American cooperation in Greece especially during recent government crisis. He stated that had there been a definite departure from Parliamentary government here, he would have had a storm in Commons which would, in all likelihood, have forced him to withdraw all British troops from Greece. While our course was determined independent of British views and not influenced by them, agreement with them on fundamentals is clearly of vital importance. Norton and I presented a completely united front in dealing with the Greek leaders and the King. We kept officially in the background but our force was fully felt.
New government has turned out by common consent to be the best we have had since the elections three years ago. There has been noticeable improvement in government efficiency and public morale which has justified our action. This is due in large part to fact that new government came into being as result normal parliamentary methods and received overwhelming vote of confidence in Chamber. Greek public appreciates fact that new government is not American creation except insofar as our support was given to their own democratic process rather than to influences favoring artificial solutions which almost inevitably would have led to dictatorship in absence broad popular support. Papagos is becoming an excellent C-in-C and aside entirely from the proposed method of making him Prime Minister, there is no assurance that he would have made a good one. Only those late of business and new to diplomacy were sure of that.[Page 257]
One cannot be too confident regarding the political future of Greece anymore than one can be of its military or economic future. But definite progress is being made on all three fronts and I think outlook is brighter today in Greece than it has been for some time. The men in ECA are getting the fullest cooperation from the key ministries and our military personnel from Papagos and his staff. Even decentralization law about which there has been so much criticism of the Greek Government by some of our people would have been passed some time ago except that suddenly last fall we found that law, drafted in session, passage of which we had been demanding since last summer, was inadequate. We have been working on its revision for several months with Greek Government now pressing us for action instead of our pressing them.
I have referred to the problems of Greece on three fronts: military, political, and economic. There is a fourth. Anne O’Hare McCormick1 has referred to it in her column. It is the “impatient American businessmen in Greece”. I can add to her comment that there is, in many cases, cocksureness that in this delicate situation has definite elements of danger. Execution of the Marshall Plan is going to require a degree of wisdom and statesmanship which America has never before been called on to display. There are those here in Greece who would vindicate the criticism of our enemies. Because grants of money give us great power, they would impose the American will on a people we are striving to make free. Greece more than any other country is a test of the American capacity for leadership of the new free world.
Please provide Hoffman with copy this message.
Sent Department 319; repeated London 13; Paris 11 for Harriman.
- Foreign correspondent for the New York Times.↩