255. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1
3805. After intensive review of all considerations that we can evaluate here, I have concurred in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] recommendation that authority be sought for limited covert political action in connection with forthcoming Greek elections.
In contrast to earlier programs which focused on EDA, purpose would be to restrict dimensions of power base being built by Andreas Papandreou, by encouraging support for certain competitive elements [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Details of action program will be presented to Department [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
I have come to this recommendation reluctantly. Basically, it is for Greeks who believe their country benefits from close ties with West including United States to generate enough political energy to oppose effectively those who would lead Greece down more dangerous trails. It would be unhealthy for even our best friends here to depend overly long on American crutch. However, at this moment following considerations are to my mind compelling:
Though forthcoming Greek elections will ostensibly be struggle among pro-Western indigenous nationalist parties, important successes by Andreas could set off policy shifts away from traditional firm alliance with West.
To my knowledge younger Papandreou is not under Communist Party discipline. He has adopted and is vigorously promoting many EDA policies, however. Significance is that he gives respectable centrist cover to advancement of Communist policies. Moreover, his public commitment to these policies has become so complete that EDA and his personal supporters from left will have effective grip on him should he attain high office after elections. American interests in Greece would be vulnerable to substantial erosion in such an atmosphere.
- These elections come at crucial moment in Andreas’ career. They constitute his first major bid for power, at moment when age and weakness of his father open way for succession. If Andreas is set back at this juncture, others with different orientation may improve their chances to take leadership of Center Union. Also, assuming May elections may be inconclusive and followed soon by second elections which (as in 1963/64) would strengthen and confirm political trends identified in [Page 542] May, setbacks in these elections could seriously undermine Andreas’ base for takeover effort in second elections. Conversely, successes in May would strengthen Andreas’ claim to succeed his father, his position within the party, and prospects of dominating government after second elections.
- Upsurge of Andreas’ strength is deepening dichotomy in Greek public life to degree his incipient success might set off rightist counterrevolutionary attempts with prospectively adverse consequences for Greece and for the Alliance. What we don’t need in NATO now is a Greek military dictatorship.
- Greek political interests opposing Andreas are unquestionably now in a majority but are also in disarray. They seem incapable or at least unprepared for job that should be theirs of cutting Andreas down to size.
- At this moment Communist-directed EDA faces decision whether to seek strengthened Parliamentary position by fielding a full slate or to throw support of its center-left elements to Andreas. From our viewpoint, former course would be preferable even if it brought EDA more Parliamentary seats. Center Union and other parties would then find it essential to oppose Communist-line minority. Should Andreas gain strong position with EDA assistance, however, not only would Communist Party leverage on Andreas be strengthened but Center Union would become more ambivalent between EDA and national parties.
- My recommendation presupposes that United States has interest in maintenance in power of a Greek Government, of whatever party, that is committed to continued close and broad relations with United States, and that Andreas is the most immediate and prospectively potent factor opposing this relationship. [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] U.S. policy needs also to demonstrate sympathetic American support for Greek progress and stability. This has become more difficult at stage when economic assistance has been phased out, military assistance is being phased down more rapidly than either government had foreseen, and unresolved Greek-Turkish differences put strains on Greek-American as well as on Turkish-American relations. Best long-term answer will be found in maintaining variety of active if inexpensive cooperative and contact programs during this transitional period when, rightly or wrongly, Greeks still have not got over sense of dependence on United States developed during past two decades and look to U.S. to push them into doing what they know they should. Suggestions for overt programs being forwarded separately.2
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secret; Roger Channel. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received at 10:41 a.m. For additional information on U.S. views on the Greek political situation in early 1967, see Alexis Papakhelas, The Rape of Greek Democracy: The American Factor, 1947–1967 [O Viasmos Tis Ellenikis Demokratias: O Amerikanos Paragon, 1947–1967], pp. 276–281.↩
- Not found.↩