451. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1
An Alternative Course of Action on Cyprus
What we want to do is steer between the Scylla of uncontrolled UN intervention and the Charybdis of sending US troops unless absolutely necessary. Makarios’ reply, which was essentially negative but left door slightly ajar, allows us to take a new tack.2 But we must do so quickly before Turks move or Makarios goes to UN.
I don’t think Kyprianou’s remarks to Sandys offer much hope. In any case, Kyp doesn’t count. He’s a 32-year-old messenger boy, whom Mak uses as a front man. The job to be done is still in Nicosia, where we must convince Black Mak to reverse course.
The Brits are still determined to pull us in, which makes London a problem too. Here the trick is to keep UK from giving up, while still not letting them commit us to anything Sandys dreams up.
Ankara is our problem. The Turks will only listen to us. Moreover, they’ll keep their mouths shut, which means we can talk tough privately, if we must. But we must offer the Turks some hope too, because they rightly see themselves the losers if we let Makarios dictate the terms.
The following scenario attempts to meet the above criteria. It’s admittedly thin, but little more so than State’s idea of putting UN shrubbery around US/UK proposal.
- Keep the European mediator idea. It helps keep issue out of UN and helps limit our liability (in forcing a solution).
- Tell all parties that unless and until mediator idea worked out it’s essential to keep London Conference going. The more we keep talking, the less likelihood of violence.
- Mount a major effort with UK to keep it from running to UN. LBJ/Home letter—saying don’t act till we can talk here on 12th—might be in order. Tell UK we must act together.
- Since some kind of stronger peacekeeping force on Cyprus seems essential, largely to forestall bloodshed precipitating Turk move, explore urgently possibility of (a) Commonwealth reinforcement (Canadian, Aussie, plus Pakistani or Sudanese to give Moslem flavor); (b) proportional reinforcement of Greek/Turk/UK forces; or (c) beefing up of UK forces alone. Even if none of these work, talking about them keeps the ball in play.
- To keep Makarios out of UN, convey to him forcefully but discreetly that Western powers won’t play ball, and that in courting Bloc and AsAfs he’ll lose his Western friends. We could also raise spectre of Turkish move saying it perfectly legal under Zurich treaty. We should attempt to box in Makarios by (a) getting to his more pro-West colleagues; (b) threatening to reveal their NATO offer; (c) talking up Grivas, etc. Only if we cool Mak and his extremists down can we keep lid on.
- Use every private argument to keep Turks from acting, saying on plus side that we’ll make sure Turk Cypriot position will be protected (vaguely) but on negative side that if Turks move without consultation we’ll stop MAP cold to both them and Greeks.
- In Athens we must convince Greeks they can’t let Makarios steal the play. They must talk up NATO solidarity too. As leverage we use above MAP argument, but also say we’re ag’in partition (since Turks admit they’re ag’in it too).
- To get above across forcefully we may have to send a senior man out, especially to Nicosia. Wilkins just doesn’t carry weight with Makarios, and is temperamentally reluctant to use tough talk. In any case, sending a man from Washington conveys impression we mean business.
Above moves should at minimum have calming effect, and buy us some time. If they don’t work, we haven’t lost much, and can still retreat to modified US/UK proposals or let Mak go to the UN route. It would be very hard to sell this line (especially 4 above) to UK, but we could do the others while negotiating on 4 with Brits.