11. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

1438. Subj: U.S. Expression of Concern to Senior Greek Military. State 43153.2

I appreciate the substance and thrust of the Dept’s telegram 43153. The situation here continues to be discouraging. Interference by the hardline Ioannides junta has weakened the Armed Forces and incapacitated civil government. Popular resentment is continuing to build up against repressive political and capricious economic policies. The inherent instability of this power structure portends further change, possibly accompanied by civil unrest. There is widespread belief that the US is somehow responsible for this unhappy state of affairs.
Quite apart from the obvious danger of open unrest, however, I am increasingly concerned about the evolving chauvinistic attitude of the Ioannides junta as indicated in intelligence reports. If this group succeeds in creating a puppet military high command in addition to a puppet civil government or takes over direct ruling power itself, I fear that the policies it will impose in matters of defense and foreign policy as well as in the domestic, political and economic fields could also be adverse to our interests. These contingencies deserve serious and prompt attention.
In view of the foregoing, I look forward to discussing current developments in Greece which could adversely impinge on our national interests. In that connection I think the approach mentioned in reftel3 could be very helpful in protecting our bilateral security interests. Such an approach would have to be made with great care to the right individuals, however, to avoid its being mistaken as endorsement of the regime or encouragement to impose order on the Armed Forces [Page 47] and the country by whatever means necessary. I would want to participate in it myself and to be supported with parallel action by a senior U.S. military leader, preferably in the JCS. An approach at a lower level or by an outsider is not likely to be effective.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 594, Country Files, Middle East, Greece, Vol. IV. Secret; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 43153 to Athens, March 4, the Department voiced its concern with the erroneous yet prevailing belief in Greece that the United States had played a role in the November 1973 coup, the lack of popular support for the Greek military regime, and the concomitant discrediting of the Greek military among the masses, all issues that could adversely affect the bilateral security relationship. The Department reiterated its policy that the U.S. Government refrained from “direct involvement in the internal politics of Greece,” but offered suggestions for ensuring bilateral security interests. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 43153, the Department proposed reiterating the long-standing U.S. interest in maintaining the integrity of the Greek military.