243. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • Maj. Gen. Walters
  • Deputy Prime Minister Pattakos
  • Mr. Daniel Brewster

The Deputy Prime Minister recalled the Presidentʼs trip to Greece in 1967 as a private citizen and the good conversation they had at that time.2 The President said that he also recalled it. Part of the conversation [Page 619] had been in the garden and part of it in the Deputy Prime Ministerʼs office. He later talked about his conversation with Tom Pappas.

Mr. Pattakos said that things were going well in Greece in spite of what the newspapers said. Greek policy toward the United States was frank and clear. They would continue to be friends even if the United States did nothing for them and they understood the stoppage of arms supplies. They knew the President and also knew that he was a good man. They understood what we were doing in Vietnam and realized that communism had to be fought. They, the Greeks, would fight against it even if no one helped them.

The President said there was a new Administration and we were conducting a review of our policies and programs particularly in the field of military assistance. This was being considered in the National Security Council of which Mr. Kissinger was the head. We were aware of the fact that Greece was a strong partner in NATO and had been helpful on Cyprus and other matters. In our dealings with other countries we were principally involved in external affairs rather than in political matters.

Mr. Pattakos repeated that Greece would stand with the United States. The U.S. was the Athens of modern times. It must be strong. He had mentioned these matters in a letter which he had written to the President. The U.S. must be strong in order to protect freedom. Greece would stand by her side. He recalled the ancient Greek soldier who had seized hold of a Persian ship and when the Persians cut off his hand he had grasped it with the other hand and then his feet and finally with his teeth at which point the Persians had cut off his head.3 He told this story to illustrate the determination of the Greeks.

The President then asked Mr. Pattakos his opinion of the attitude of the Communist world today. Mr. Pattakos said they were as dangerous as ever and would do everything they could to lull the western world into a sense of security. He told the fable of Esops in which a Lion wanted to marry a manʼs daughter and the daughter was afraid of the lion so when the lion came to see the girlʼs father, the father explained that the girl was afraid of the lionʼs teeth and nails and that if he got rid of them then they could be married. The lion disarmed himself and when in this condition he came back to ask for the girlʼs hand, the father easily killed him.4 This was what the communists were trying to do to the western world. They were using the students as a spearhead. They were only children, smoked marijuana and had little [Page 620] sense of reality. One should not pay attention to them but rather to the real danger of communism which was still seeking to conquer the world. The Deputy Prime Minister fired a blast at exiled Greek politico Andreas Papandreou, saying that he was a complete political eccentric and somewhat deranged. He was against everything and for nothing. Reaffirming Greeceʼs determination to fight communism and support the United States Mr. Pattakos took his leave of the President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Presidentʼs Office Files, Memoranda for the President. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Yellow Oval Room at the White House. Pattakos also met with Vice President Agnew and Secretary Rogers on April 1. Memoranda of those discussions are ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 GREECE and POL GREECE–US, respectively. A record of a PattakosLaird conversation of April 2 is in the Washington National Records Center, RG330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 72 A 6309, Greece, 121–333, 1969. A general report on Pattakosʼs Washington visit is in telegram 5121 to Athens, April 3. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 GREECE)
  2. Nixon visited Greece in June 1967 during a trip to Africa and the Middle East. He met with King Constantine and other senior leaders of the junta on June 21.
  3. Reference is to an elaboration on a story found in Herodotus.
  4. Pattakos was apparently melding together Aesopʼs story of Androkles and the Lion with other Greek fables.