On March 12, 1947, President Harry S. Truman asked Congress to aid Greece to preserve a “way of life . . . based upon the will of the majority and . . . distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.” Twenty years later, on April 21, 1967, a small group of army officers seized power in Greece in order to thwart the will of the majority, destroy free institutions, abolish representative government, and prevent free elections. They put an end to all guarantees of individual liberty, throttled freedom of speech, imposed a handpicked administration on the Greek Orthodox Church, and began a reign of terror against political dissenters. The officers who did this had been trained by American military missions and the weapons they used had been supplied by the United States; indeed, the weapons with which they maintain themselves in power are still being supplied by the United States. Given the fact that, from 1947 to 1967, the influence of the United States on Greek affairs has been at all times paramount, it is scarcely surprising that the overwhelming majority of Greeks should regard the United States as primarily responsible for the coup which has destroyed their country’s freedom.
It is an indictment which, though erroneous in detail, contains a large element of truth. For the coup, though not organized with the support or even the knowledge of the United States, was in considerable part made possible by the fact that American policy in Greece had long since lost sight of the goals described by President Truman in 1947. The defense of liberty and democracy had been replaced by “anti-Communism” at a time when Communism had ceased to represent a significant threat to Greek freedom. And to defend the “anti-Communist” cause, the United States had relied on the Greek armed forces, the palace, and the political Right.
In its original intervention in Greece, the United States had taken over not merely the role that Britain had hitherto played, but its policy—the policy of the Labour government of Clement Attlee—as well. This consisted of supplying whatever military and economic aid was necessary to prevent a forcible Communist takeover, while at the same time blocking any attempt by the Right to use the civil war as an excuse for establishing its own dictatorship. Neither goal was easy to achieve, but the second was probably the more difficult. For the Left and Center were sharply divided not only between the Communists and their allies on the one side, and the anti-Communists on the other, but also within the latter group. Thus the election of 1946—held under the auspices of a Left-Center Premier, Themistocles Sophoulis—was nevertheless boycotted both by Communists and by important moderate centrists. The result of this boycott, and of the rightist terror in the countryside to which it was a response, was a parliament in which the Center had little more than token representation and the Left had none at all. Only very strong pressure first from the British, then from the Americans prevented the Right from using its parliamentary majority—and its complete control of the military and security forces—to consolidate its power by establishing a dictatorship. At American insistence, a coalition government was formed with Sophoulis as Premier; it held office until his death in June 1949, when it was followed first by another coalition ministry and then by a non-party government to conduct elections. These elections took place after the final collapse of the Communist guerrillas. They resulted in a sweeping victory for the Center and Left; when the King attempted, even so, to arrange a conservative coalition between the defeated Right and the right wing of the Center, U.S. Ambassador Henry Grady wrote a letter stating in effect that the United States felt that its aid could only be used effectively by a government which reflected the will of the people as shown by the elections. In the face of the “Grady letter” the palace yielded and called on a centrist, General Nicholas Plastiras (who had headed the government which suppressed the Communist revolt of 1944-5) to form a government.
The appointment of Plastiras as Premier in 1950 represented a major triumph for American policy. Greece at last had a government capable of rebuilding the democracy which had been destroyed by General John Metaxas in 1936, and which had remained in abeyance during the civil war. It was not, to be sure, a government with a stable parliamentary majority, and it actually remained in office for only a few months. But it was succeeded by a series of other Center coalitions, some headed by Plastiras and some by Sophocles Venizelos, over the next two years. Despite changes in personnel, these governments preserved a considerable measure of continuity in policy; they began to release the huge number of political prisoners (over fifty thousand at the beginning of 1950) who had been incarcerated in the course of the civil war, and to institute essential economic reforms.
Unfortunately, however, the year 1950 also represented a turning-point in American policy, not in Greece alone but in most parts of the world. For with the Korean War, anti-Communism changed from a policy to an obsession. In the days of the Marshall Plan, the United States had in general sought to build up healthy and progressive economies as a barrier to Communist political penetration; it had regarded political and economic reforms as a necessity, and the democratic Left as their most likely sponsor. But after the beginning of the Korean war, the struggle against Communism was increasingly regarded as a military and police matter, and the Right became its chosen instrument. In Washington, this attitude was exemplified not only by Senator Joseph McCarthy, but by some of his chosen targets. It bore fruit in large-scale material support for the French colonial war in Indochina, and later—though less directly—in Algeria, as well as in American insistence on German rearmament.
Of course, an element of sympathy for the Right as the most reliable bastion against Communism had always been present in American (and British) policy, if only because such attitudes were ingrained in many of the military and even civilian executors of that policy. In Greece, the British military and police missions, and later their American counterparts, had consistently sought to strengthen right-wing control of the army and security forces, even while the respective embassies were trying to hold the Right in check on the political front. And there were also civilian officials who connived with the Right to frustrate Embassy policy.
While Henry Grady was U.S. Ambassador, however, right-wing members of the American military and civilian bureaucracies in Greece only obstructed U.S. policy; they did not make it. The situation altered completely after John Peurifoy succeeded Grady in 1950. Grady’s departure does not appear to have been linked with the change in Washington policy that was taking place at that time, but the choice of Peurifoy as a successor may have reflected a Washington decision to give the Greek Right wholehearted American support. In any case, that policy was adopted under Peurifoy, and was maintained for many years by his successors.
Supporting the Right, as it happens, was not an altogether easy thing to do. For, if not quite as fragmented as its opponents, the Greek Right also. included a number of feuding factions. In the armed forces, the British and American missions had backed different groups; after American aid became more important than British, the American-backed faction headed by Field Marshal Alexander Papagos became dominant, but its British-supported rivals still held key posts. In the political field, similarly, there was a sharp split between Papagos and the palace, and there were rightist politicians who supported each.
These divisions were crucial in the failure of an attempted rightist military coup in May 1951. At that time IDEA, an organization of army officers which had received the backing of the U.S. military mission, tried to replace the Center government of Sophocles Venizelos with a dictatorship headed by Papagos. It was widely assumed that IDEA had been encouraged in this attempt by the U.S. Embassy. But the coup was not well-planned, and officers opposed to IDEA and loyal to the King were able to frustrate it. (The failure of the coup was also at least partly due to the fact that Papagos, a much better man than some of his friends, had no desire to head a military dictatorship.) Peurifoy then sought to achieve the same general goal by purely political methods.
With the encouragement of the Embassy, a new rightist party called the Greek Rally was formed, under the nominal leadership of Papagos. Overt and covert American influence was brought to bear on politicians of the Right and Center to throw their support to the new organization. But while it polled more votes than any other single party in the election of 1951, the Greek Rally lost out to an alliance of Center groups headed by Plastiras and Venizelos. Despite Embassy pressure for a Papagos government, this alliance held together. A coalition government headed by Plastiras as Premier and Venizelos as Vice-Premier continued the policy of amnesty and economic reform. Its success in the latter respect was used as the excuse for a sharp cut in American economic aid while its amnesty measures were denounced as a threat to Greek security.
The Embassy, under Peurifoy and his Minister-Counselor Charles Yost, also kept stressing that the government was unstable, because it was a coalition of two parties—as if there were less stability in such a coalition than in a single catch-all party. At the same time, it did its best to demonstate this instability by destroying the Center majority. Publicly, Peurifoy made it clear that he objected to the amnesty measures and called for new elections under the plurality, rather than the proportional, system. (The change was designed to strengthen the Right, united in the Greek Rally, against the divided Center and Left.) Privately, individual members of the Center parties were called to the Embassy and urged to withdraw their support from the government. (Other U.S. agencies reportedly offered more substantial arguments, where these seemed likely to prove effective.) The government majority, originally large enough, was gradually whittled away by these methods. It would have disappeared, except that some of the non-Communist supporters of the Communist-dominated United Democratic Left (EDA)1 had split with it and gone over to the Center parties. But this was used by Peurifoy as an additional ground for attacking the Plastiras-Venizelos government; it was accused of staying in office by virtue of “Communist” support.
Finally, after a year of such sniping, the government was forced to call new elections under the plurality system. The result was a victory for the Greek Rally (with about 49 per cent of the vote, it won four-fifths of the seats in Parliament) and Papagos became Premier. Perhaps the most important effect of this victory was that it consolidated Idea’s hold on the army. Those officers who had been disciplined for their part in the attempted coup of 1951 now received more important posts than they had previously held, while IDEA’s enemies were retired. The way was thus paved for more active military intervention in Greek politics.
After the death of Papagos in 1955, the King—most Greeks believed at the instance of the American Embassy—passed over the Rally leaders generally regarded as having the best claim to succeed him, and instead appointed Constantine Karamanlis as Premier. The Rally dissolved as a result, but Karamanlis was able to reorganize most of its supporters as the National Radical Union (ERE). New elections took place; as usual, they were held under a new electoral law which favored the Right. Fearing a repetition of the 1952 victory of a united Right over a divided Center and Left, most of the Center groups entered into a popular-front electoral coalition with EDA. (A few Center leaders, the most notable being George Papandreou, refused on anti-Communist grounds to join this coalition.)
Thus as a direct result of Peurifoy’s intervention in Greek politics, the Communists were able for the first time since the civil war to build an alliance with such ultra-respectable figures as Sophocles Venizelos, leader of the Right-Center. The formation of this popular front should not have come as any surprise to anyone who had observed the mood of the Center after the 1952 elections. It came, however, as very much of a surprise to the Embassy. One key Embassy official told me that Sophocles Venizelos was to blame for rehabilitating the Communists in Greece, and that the Center voters would certainly not follow him into any popular front. In reality, Venizelos was simply going along with what he knew the voters would do with or without him; the politicians whom the diplomat predicted they would follow were for the most part men whose influence did not extend outside their own families—and the Embassy, which they frequented.
What would probably have happened in 1955, had the Center parties refused to enter a popular front, did happen in 1958. In that year, with some important individual exceptions, they did indeed refuse to ally themselves with EDA. But Center voters went over to EDA en masse in 1958, and it became the country’s second largest party, reaching a new peak of strength with just under a fourth of the vote.
The Embassy’s error in 1955 was part of a pattern; at no time in the last fifteen years has it really maintained contact with the Left-of-Center part of the Greek electorate, and most of the time it has not even wanted to. This has always applied to EDA, but the same attitude has extended to even the more conservative members of the Center—particularly when Ellis Briggs was Ambassador in the years after 1959. Briggs broke relations almost completely with all sections of the Center; when centrist leaders like George Papandreou sought to see him, he told them that they would never amount to anything and should abandon their political activities.
The official American attitude in this period—one which is still reflected both in the State Department and in the editorial comments of many newspapers—was that the Karamanlis government was the best that Greece had ever had. According to this view, an economic miracle had occurred in Greece as the result of policies initiated under the Papagos government and further developed under Karamanlis. The investment of foreign capital, and the repatriation of Greek capital held abroad, had been encouraged by beneficent governmental policies and favorable laws, and the result had been an economic boom and a sharp rise in the standard of living. On the political side, the old chasm between Venizelists and anti-Venizelists had been bridged, as was evidenced by the presence in ERE of a number of politicians formerly associated with the old Venizelist Liberal party, the parent of most of the Center groups. And above all, the regime was a loyal and dependable ally of the United States, and firmly devoted to NATO.
In one respect, this view did coincide with the facts: there was a boom in the Papagos-Karamanlis years, accompanied by some foreign investment and repatriation of Greek capital. But government policies had little to do with the reduction in unemployment and the improvement in the general economic situation which took place. The boom in Northern Europe, especially in Germany, made it possible to export the unemployed; about one-fifth of all Greek workers found jobs abroad. Their remittances, and the great increase in tourism from Northern Europe and America, fueled a boom of which the Karamanlis government was the beneficiary rather than the creator.
Where government policy did play a role, however, was in the distribution of the boom’s benefits. And this was such as to increase the sharp disparities which were already one of the salient characteristics of Greek life. The rich got richer—and more numerous—at a much faster rate than the poor became less poor. The gap between city and countryside widened, as did that between Athens and the provinces. And in consequence, the erasure of old political divisions, which the Americans thought they saw happening, remained a mirage. The devotees of the status quo may have attained a somewhat greater degree of political unity than they had previously possessed; but the dispossessed remained unconverted.
The long period of right-wing rule from 1952 to 1963 was partly a consequence of disunity in the Center, and partly of manipulation of the electoral process through juggling of the electoral law and outright fraud and intimidation. The first of these conditions was eliminated before the elections of 1961, when the various Center factions joined to form the Center Union under the leadership of George Papandreou. The second, however, remained; Karamanlis was victorious in a blatantly fraudulent election.
In the following two years Papandreou conducted a national campaign for new elections, and finally he succeeded.2 In these elections, held in November 1963, Papandreou’s Center Union party was victorious, but did not win an absolute majority. Papandreou was named Premier, but he did not wish to remain in office with a majority which depended on the support of EDA’s deputies, and new elections were held in February 1964. These gave the Center Union an absolute majority of the popular vote, and 174 of the 300 seats in Parliament.
From the beginning, the Papandreou government was beset by rivalries among the various factional leaders who had combined to form the Center Union, and who hoped to succeed the seventy-five-year-old Premier in due course. At first, however, they were kept in line by the great popular enthusiasm which the new government evoked, and which was further stimulated by the reforms it introduced. These included an increase in the minimum wage and other measures designed to redistribute income, a whole series of educational reforms, and a removal of curbs on political freedom—although Papandreou did not go so far as to legalize the Communist party itself. One aspect of this liberalization, if a minor one, was the release of those political prisoners still remaining from the period of the civil war. Most had already been amnestied under Papagos and Karamanlis (without any American objections such as had greeted the less sweeping amnesty measures of Plastiras), and there were only a few hundred still in prison when Papandreou took office. More important than the release of prisoners was the fact that the security forces and the military were no longer allowed to curb political activity. Both those who approved and those who did not were in agreement on one point: Greeks were freer under the Papandreou government than they had been at any previous time.
Nevertheless, some of the measures which the Papandreou government undertook ran into powerful opposition. Its reorganization of the Greek central intelligence agency (KYP), designed to bring it under civilian control by turning its operations and finances over to the supervision of the prime minister’s office, met strong American resistance. For the CIA had been subsidizing and working with this agency directly, bypassing Greek government channels, and it had no wish to change the arrangement. And when Papandreou initiated an investigation into the army’s role in the fraudulent election of 1961, the military leaders involved struck back by charging that a secret group of republican officers called ASPIDA (the word means “shield”) had been formed with the aim of overthrowing the monarchy. They also charged that Andreas Papandreou, the son of the prime minister and himself a cabinet member, had been involved in this conspiracy.
A struggle followed in which the Papandreou government, supported by a majority of Parliament, was on one side; the King and IDEA, allied with the parliamentary opposition and with some dissident members of the Center Union, were on the other. (The death of King Paul in March 1964 and the succession of his son Constantine did not end royal interference in government; Queen Frederika continued to dominate the palace.) The struggle came to a head when Defense Minister Garoufalias, a “King’s man” as almost all defense ministers since the civil war had been, refused to obey the Prime Minister’s orders on matters of army organization. The latter then asked Garoufalias to resign, and when he refused dismissed him and designated himself as Defense Minister.
The King would not agree to the dismissal of Garoufalias as Defense Minister and Papandreou’s assumption of that office. When Papandreou threatened to resign and take the issue to the people, the King “accepted the resignation” that had not in fact been offered. He then commenced a systematic effort to create a party of “King’s friends” from dissident members of the Center Union, asking first one and then another to head a cabinet composed entirely of Center Union dissidents. While Papandreou demanded new elections, these cabinets went before Parliament and were voted down one after another. But gradually they won new support, as individual members were won over by being made ministers. Finally, after some six weeks of this type of maneuvering, a cabinet headed by Stephanos Stephanopoulos succeeded in getting a bare parliamentary majority. This consisted of the solid vote of the right-wing opposition and a small group of former Center deputies, all of whom were either ministers or had relatives in the cabinet. Throughout this conflict the King was supported by the U.S. Embassy and State Department, not to mention the U.S. military mission in Athens and the CIA.
The motives of the defectors varied, but all of them felt frustrated in their ambition by the appearance of Andreas Papandreou as his father’s heir apparent. Andreas (who had been a member of an independent anti-Fascist and anti-Stalinist student group during the pre-war dictatorship of John Metaxas) had emigrated to the United States in 1940 for political reasons. While serving in the navy during the war, he had become an American citizen and had subsequently achieved distinction as an economist, teaching at Harvard, Northwestern, Minnesota, and California. Ultimately he had given up his position as head of the Economics Department at Berkeley to return to Greece and establish an economic research institute at the request of Karamanlis. When his father became Premier he entered the cabinet, and it soon became clear that he was not only abler than any of the factional leaders in the Center Union, but also more popular. He was the first leader of the Center since the death of George Kartalis in 1957 to demonstrate a real comprehension of the country’s political and economic requirements, and only his own father could compete with him in stirring the Greek masses.
He also, however, had many enemies—his rivals for the leadership of the Center, the entrenched economic groups whose privileges he assailed, the military politicians whose hold on the armed forces he wanted to break, the palace itself—and their number and bitterness grew along with his popularity. The Americans also regarded him as a threat because he questioned the desirability of Greece’s continuing as an outpost of the cold war; the Embassy tended to resent this particularly because of a feeling that, having been an American for so many years, he was morally bound to support the United States government in international political questions. (His Greek critics—both those who hated him and some who were friendly but disagreed on tactical questions—charged him with being “too American” and trying to introduce American methods into a Greece that was not ready for them.)
The relationship between the Papandreous and the Embassy was further embittered by the years in which the latter had not bothered to disguise its distaste for the Center; for some Embassy officials, this had become second nature to such an extent that when the formal policy changed as a result of a belated realization that the Center would return to power, the Embassy’s tentative efforts at reconciliation were sometimes made with such apparent reluctance and accompanied by such bad manners that they simply made things worse.
The exact role of the United States in the 1965 crisis is, of course, hard to ascertain. But several things are clear. The United States military mission in Athens was very closely aligned with the right-wing generals, and strongly favored royal control over the army, which it regarded as a guarantee of its reliability; the attempt of the Papandreous to bring the armed forces under civilian control was regarded as “political interference.” (In justice to the members of the military mission, it should be pointed out that a large part of the American military establishment takes a similar view of Defense Secretary McNamara’s efforts to exercise his constitutional functions here.) Stephanopoulos, a naturally cautious man, had always been very susceptible to American influence and would have been extremely unlikely to undertake the adventure of heading a government without firm parliamentary support if he had not first received assurances that this course would please the Embassy. American diplomats did not bother to disguise their hostility to the Papandreous, and their approval of the King, from journalists and others to whom they spoke. And one of the top officials of the Embassy is very reliably reported to have assured the King that the United States would support him in any steps he might take to undercut the Papandreous short of a military coup.
Throughout 1965 and 1966, popular support for the Papandreous was obviously growing rather than declining. Privately, many of the deserters from the Center conceded that they had little chance of holding their seats in a new election; one of the most prominent feathered his nest with a blatancy which seemed to stem from a realization that his political career was over in any case.
This period also saw a sharp decline in the strength of EDA and presumably in that of the outlawed Communist party which operated through EDA. A decline in the strength of the Left has always taken place in Greece at times when there is a strong Center under vigorous leadership; most of the support of EDA, and even of the Communist party, is the product of simple despair, and therefore disappears whenever there seems to be some hope of progress through democratic channels. Still, the Communists felt it necessary to support the Papandreous against the King, despite Andreas Papandreou’s strict instructions to his followers that there were to be no formal united fronts. (“If they want to support us on our program, that’s up to them,” he said.) For if they had not supported the Papandreous, their losses would have been even greater.
Finally, at the end of 1966, the ERE leadership tired of supplying the bulk of the votes for a government in which it had no share of the spoils, and the Stephanopoulos cabinet fell. This was followed—or perhaps preceded—by an agreement between ERE leader Panayotis Kanellopoulos and George Papandreou for the installation of a “non-political” caretaker cabinet to conduct elections, in accordance with normal Greek practice. That cabinet, headed by a gentleman named Paraskevopoulos, was like most such governments in being heavily weighted with conservatives, many with close ties to the palace. Andreas Papandreou therefore publicly expressed his strong opposition to the agreement, and it appeared for a while as if the Center Union would be split down the middle between father and son.
Some of Andreas’s advisers urged him to take the opportunity for a clean break with his father on grounds of principle, and to set up an ideological party which would sacrifice the prospect of immediate office in order to build for the future on a sound intellectual and organizational basis. They held that there were too many essentially conservative elements in the Center Union as it existed to make it an adequate vehicle for fundamental change, and they believed that a good deal of political education would be necessary to prepare the ground for such change. Meanwhile, they thought, such a split would leave the right wing of the Center Union free to make an accommodation with ERE which would defuse the conflict and avert the danger of a military coup. (At the same time, the American Embassy was trying with predictable non-success to persuade Andreas that the proper course for him would be to swing to the Right in order to capture the support of the Right-Center, since he already had the Left in his pocket.) After some hesitation, Andreas finally decided to accept party discipline and join with his father in supporting the Paraskevopoulos government, taking the advice of those who held that any other course would have enabled the Right to consolidate its control of the country.
In April, however, the Paraskevopoulos government fell as a result of a dispute over whether the electoral law should contain a provision extending the parliamentary immunity of deputies through the election period. The purpose of such a provision would have been to prevent the arrest of Andreas Papandreou in connection with the ASPIDA case, as the army right-wingers and their civilian friends had been demanding. The prospect of an IDEA coup again came to the fore, but the United States appears to have warned the King against such a move, and advised that elections be held. (The Embassy—with its customary overestimation of the Right-Center—expected the elections to result in sufficient gains for ERE to prevent any party from having a majority. This, the Americans thought, would lead to a coalition between ERE and the more conservative and traditionally-oriented elements of the Center, leaving Andreas Papandreou either isolated or contained. Change could then be restricted to an appropriately glacial pace.)
The King, in response to Embassy pressure, called on ERE leader Kanellopoulos to form a cabinet to hold elections. Papandreou and Kanellopoulos were friends of long standing who had been political allies about as often as they had been political opponents in the past. Perhaps pursuant to a private promise from Kanellopoulos to Papandreou, the new cabinet decided not to authorize the prosecution of Andreas Papandreou during the election period.
This decision outraged the right-wing extremists, in the army and out. IDEA, however, was restrained from a coup by the knowledge that the Americans were against it, and that the palace would not act without American support. (The Embassy seems to have reiterated this opposition to the King in mid-April.) Yet IDEA, whose leadership was by now more or less identical with the top echelon of the army, was not the only secret right-wing organization in the armed forces—if one can call a group secret whose activities were so well-known. Another, much smaller organization called EENA had grown up among junior officers who resented Idea’s monopoly of the fleshpots. (On the Left, ASPIDA seems to have been a similar, but very poorly organized, attempt by democratic junior officers to challenge Idea’s political control of the armed forces.) Most of the officers in EENA had originally been supporters of IDEA, and still nominally were. Indeed its chief organizer, Colonel George Papadopoulos, was the man designated by IDEA to pass on the order for the coup from the leadership to its followers in the army. This fact was the key to EENA’s smooth seizure of power; most of those who received orders for the coup from Padadopoulos thought they came from IDEA—and, by implication, from the King.
The actual coup certainly did not originate in either the Embassy or the palace, and came as a complete shock not only to both but to the American military mission and the CIA, both of which were completely committed to IDEA. (The military mission, however, seems to have adjusted very quickly to the shock, and to have become a strong advocate of full military assistance for the junta. Apparently one right-wing Greek army officer seems to them very like another; they may not be so far wrong about that.) But neither the King nor the Americans cared to appeal to the people, or to the uninvolved part of the armed forces, to resist; they feared that the result might be a civil war with unpredictable results, and preferred to accept the junta. Yet any public resistance by the King, or an announcement by the United States that it would not recognize the new regime and would suspend shipments of arms, would almost certainly have caused the coup’s immediate collapse. EENA had only between two- and four hundred members, on its own estimate, out of approximately ten thousand officers in the army; in the navy and air force it had no following at all. Although the King and the Embassy do not seem to have realized it, resistance would have made the King a popular hero and strengthened his position immeasurably. By abandoning his constitutional function of protecting the legal order and becoming the accomplice of the junta, as most Greeks regard him today, the King appears to have made it extremely unlikely that the monarchy will long survive the fall of the present regime.
To be sure, that fall does not at the moment seem imminent. Neither the King nor the Americans could any longer bring the junta down overnight, even if they so desired. Within Greece, there is as yet little effective organized resistance. The Center Union had a mass following, but no real organization; Andreas Papandreou was trying to create one, but had barely made a beginning. Even the Communists were prepared only for legal electoral activity; their underground organization, though it certainly did exist, was weak and demoralized. Because it is the only underground organization which was in being prior to the coup, it has a substantial advantage, and will undoubtedly increase its strength as the present regime’s tenure lengthens. (The Metaxas dictatorship and the Nazi occupation created the conditions for the Communist attempt to seize power after the war). But for the present, the Communists are still a negligible force.
In the armed forces and the police, the junta has strengthened itself greatly by mass purges of officers it could not count on, appointments of thousands of new ones loyal to it, and promotions of large numbers both of its stalwarts and of those who became its loyal adherents when they got the promotions. Similar purges have taken place in the civil service, and all civil servants (as well as teachers in private schools and university students) have been compelled to sign an extravagant pledge of loyalty to the regime. The press has been completely gleichgeschaltet; the only exception is that some frankly Fascist and neo-Nazi publications circulate freely, although the regime would not endorse such views, and at least some of its leading figures certainly do not share them. An attempt was initially made to bar foreign publications critical of the regime as well, but this was soon abandoned when it was found that there was a direct relation between the availability of foreign papers and the willingness of tourists to stay.
Mass arrests and continuing court-martials have undoubtedly intimidated a large part of the population, and a network of informers will make the creation of an effective resistance movement a slow matter. Moreover, such a movement would have to face the danger of American intervention in support of the status quo; some warnings have already gone out from Embassy circles that in case of a guerrilla uprising, the U.S. would give military support to the regime. This might not in fact happen, since one may doubt whether President Johnson would really be eager to have a Vietnam in the Mediterranean, but the danger cannot be entirely discounted.
Nevertheless the regime seems likely to face some sort of a crisis this winter, as a result of economic difficulties. The junta has already asked for a resumption of American economic aid, discontinued four years ago, but the present climate for foreign aid in Washington is such that this seems improbable. This is fortunate, because any economic aid from the United States to the regime would destroy whatever shreds of reputation this country still retains there after the deplorable role American diplomacy has played since 1950, and especially in the events of the last two years. The United States did not organize or desire the coup that robbed Greece of its freedom, but it helped to nurture the forces that made the coup possible and to undercut those which sought to move the country in a healthier and more democratic direction.
Nevertheless, most Greeks still look to the United States as their best hope for a return of freedom. If the United States is not to disappoint this hope, it must dissociate itself in every possible way from the present regime. Certainly it should cease its military aid to the present regime; the portion presently suspended has been estimated by the Defense Department at only 10 per cent of the total. And it should be made quite clear that in the event of a revolt—which would unquestionably have the support of most of the democratic members of NATO—the United States has no intention of rescuing either junta or monarchy by direct military intervention.
1 The relation between EDA and the Communists is similar to that which existed between Henry Wallace's Progressive party and the American CP. That is, the Communists play a key role, but a major part of the vote and much of the public leadership are non-Communist.
2 The Karamanlis government was seriously undermined when an EDA deputy, Gregory Lambrakis, was murdered by thugs who turned out to be members of a secret rightist organization which was subsidized by Greek security agencies. But the incident which actually caused Karamanlis to resign was the insistence of the royal family on disregarding the government's advice against a politically explosive visit to England. The constitutional issue involved was similar to that which later caused the split between Papandreou and King Constantine—the refusal of the palace to accept the constitutionally binding advice of its ministers.