611.81/9–2552: Despatch

No. 434
The Ambassador in Greece (Peurifoy) to the Department of State 1

No. 324
[Page 807]


  • Embassy despatch no. 234, August 29, 19522


  • Re-Assessment of United States Policy and Tactics Toward Greece

In light of the changing attitudes of the Greek people and Government described in the Embassy’s despatch no. 234 of August 29, it is believed that certain modifications in U.S. policy and tactics toward Greece have become, or will shortly become, desirable. Possible modifications along these lines are suggested below for the Department’s consideration. They are preceded, however, by a brief comment on the immediate political situation which requires separate treatment.

Immediate Political Problem

With a view to furthering political stability in Greece the United States has over a period of years urged the adoption of the majority system of elections. During the last few months, moreover, we have been urging, because of the extreme instability of the present Government, that elections under the majority system be held promptly. There is now a reasonable prospect that these objectives may be realized in the near future but a continued exercise of our influence may be required during the coming weeks for this purpose. Having so nearly reached this important goal it would seem desirable to continue, privately and discreetly, to exercise our influence upon the King and Government to insure that elections will be held as soon as possible after the enactment of the electoral law now being debated in Parliament.

. . . . . . .

Long-Range Policy and Tactics

Assuming the existence of a friendly government in Greece, it is believed that our basic objective, in light of the change in our position outlined in despatch no. 234, should be to establish U.S.-Greek relations on approximately the same basis as our relations with other NATO countries.3 … If under the conditions which now [Page 808] exist we endeavor to play the same role as heretofore, we are likely merely to engender increasingly serious friction without accomplishing decisive results. We should and presumably will be able to continue to exercise guidance and leadership of a very important character but it should tend to become increasingly fraternal rather than paternal.

There is set forth below a number of concrete suggestions for reorientation of our policy over the coming months. Many of these suggestions involve the responsibilities of other agencies of the U.S. Government and will require careful study before they could be adopted. On the other hand, many of these suggestions embody points which have always been comprehended in U.S. policy toward Greece but which may have occasionally, in the heat of the moment, been neglected or forgotten.

To the extent possible U.S. influence in Greece should be exercised through NATO, OEEC or other multilateral channels rather than directly by the U.S. and its representatives in Greece.4
Direct expressions of U.S. views in regard to Greek matters should be concentrated on a relatively few problems which are vital to our interest.
Direct expressions of U.S. views should by and large be private and any public speeches or statements which it may seem desirable to make should not be critical of the Greek Government except in most unusual circumstances.
Expressions of direct U.S. views, whether stated privately or publicly, should be presented as tactfully as possible and in such a way as not to wound Greek sensibilities.
Expressions of U.S. views to the Greek Government should be put forward only at a high level. Subordinate officers of U.S. agencies should not be authorized, except when specifically designated in particular cases, to state U.S. policy to the Greek Government. One major source of irritation in our relations with the Greek Government has been the multiplicity of Americans at different levels who have demanded that the Government take this or that action.
In view of the fact that our economic aid and hence our economic responsibilities have declined very sharply, and that military responsibilities are more and more being taken over by NATO organs, it is believed that our economic and military personnel in Greece could and should be cut very sharply during the current fiscal year.5 Competent, energetic Americans retained in Greece will expect and want to do a job and, if there is not a job for them to do, discontent and frustration will be created both among the Americans and their Greek colleagues.
It should not be beyond the powers of American ingenuity to avoid any further “cuts in aid”, since it is around this dramatic act [Page 809] that bitterness against the U.S. inevitably takes shape. If the behavior in the economic field of whatever Greek government may be in power should continue to be reasonably satisfactory, as that of the present government has been for the last six months, economic aid for the second half of the current fiscal year should be a little higher than the Greeks anticipate, that is, than $40,000,000. This recommendation is made on political and psychological grounds and despite the fact that from an economic point of view no more than $40,000,000 may be needed. Any surplus at the end of the year can easily be carried over into the next year. In future years it is urged that means be found of lumping together all U.S. aid, military and economic, in such a way that it will be impossible or at least extremely difficult to separate out purely economic aid and to label it as another “cut”.
We will of course retain the control over the use of counterpart funds and must adjust the release of these funds to Greek performance in the broad economic field. It is urged, however, that our releases be relatively generous for purposes which are important to our over-all interests in Greece.

We should keep in mind that the two major economic objectives of U.S. policy in Greece are:

To preserve the pro-Western political orientation of the Greek people through the maintenance of stable economic and political conditions and
To make Greece more self-supporting so that the need for U.S. aid continuously declines. The latter objective is to be achieved primarily by:
Financial stabilization permitting an efficient use of Greek resources and
An increase in productivity, particularly, since Greece is an agricultural country, in the agricultural field.

We must take care that an exclusive concentration on tactic b.(1) does not lead to a neglect of objective a. or tactic b.(2).

. . . . . . .

Our important political objectives at the present time are:
Maintenance of a government with a pro-Western orientation.
Preservation of internal security through the firm exercise of political and police power against the Communists, and their instruments.
A reasonable degree of political stability embodied in democratic institutions.
Restraint on political passions likely, unless restrained, to lead to extreme solutions of political problems.

. . . . . . .

John E. Peurifoy
  1. Drafted by Yost. The source text bears numerous handwritten comments, presumably by Porter, which are set forth in footnotes below.
  2. In despatch 234, also drafted by Yost, the Embassy in Athens recommended support for assumption by the Greeks of greater responsibility in the political, military, and economic fields; maintenance by the United States of “certain key controls” to safeguard its political and financial investment; exercise by the United States of all its political and military influence if necessary to isolate the Greek military from political warfare; firm exercise of U.S. influence from time to time to prevent serious deterioration in the political field; seeing to it that if elections were held, they were “carried out with impartiality and under fair laws and regulations;” reduction of U.S. control in the economic field as its economic aid was reduced; and facilitating the coming to power of a government which might take “certain drastic measures” to correct chronic inflation, measures which the sharp reduction of aid required. (611.81/8–2952)
  3. A handwritten notation indicates agreement with the statement under reference.
  4. Handwritten notations indicate agreement with suggestions 1 through 5.
  5. Regarding suggestion 6, this paper bears the handwritten notation: “We have this under study. We may be able to avoid cut in Embassy personnel on ground that it will assume added econ. rep. functions if Mission is cut.”