461. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1
To get it out of my system, let me say that I’m most uncomfortable that I’m not able to do a better job of keeping you and the President clued on Cyprus mess.
I’m well aware that you’re not asking more of me, and have naturally not been pressing since you returned, understanding that we’d have to leave this one to State for the nonce. Beyond this, of course, State is deliberately neglecting to keep me at least informed. From the very beginning, almost all contacts have been at my initiative, and subject to repeated delays. It is almost as if Talbot has been told “Let’s keep this one to ourselves.” He is obviously embarrassed by this, but it reflects a general tendency, as you know. I hope Rusk is at least keeping you or LBJ broadly aware.
In fact the 7th Floor isn’t using even its own experts. The Office Director commented to me the other day that in the first week (before Ball left) they weren’t even in the act.
With due allowance for my own feeling of sour grapes, I still find State’s handling of Cyprus a very poor example of crisis diplomacy. First, we let this crisis creep up on us, even though fully warned. Second, from a posture of let the UK do it, State suddenly panicked in response to UK panic and reversed field by urging we send troops. Third, having sold this decision, State flubbed on the essential prerequisite, i.e. scaring the Greek Cypriots enough beforehand so they’d buy. Fourth, even though getting us out of the peacekeeping force (which we haven’t yet told the Turks, who bought our original proposal solely on the grounds that we were in it), Ball gave away most of our anti-UN position via a series of concessions.
These so eroded our position that only extremists like Clerides could fail to see they’d won the ballgame. But the Brits see it all too well, so they’re going to the UN instead of being dragged. Now we’ll get the worst of both worlds—UN intervention plus everybody sore at us. True, we’ve wriggled out of troop offer, but we’re still committed now to play a major role—if only to save face with the poor old Turks, who’ll rightly [Page 984]argue we hornswoggled them. Meanwhile, of course, Greeks will go on killing Turks on Cyprus.
The above is crudely oversimplified, but it’s painfully close to what happened. Now we’ll be worrying Cyprus in the UN through 1964 at least, and knowing we’re likely to end up with something quite unsatisfactory because in passing the baton to the UN we’re likely to lose control.