The United States & the Making of Modern Greece: History & Power, 1950-1974.

Author:Klarevas, Louis
Position::Brief article
 
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The United States & the Making of Modern Greece: History & Power, 1950-1974. By James Edward Miller. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. 320 pp.

If anyone is well qualified to write about the history of post-World War II Greek-American relations, it is James Miller. A Foreign Service Institute professor who has trained countless American diplomats en route to Greece and editor of the Foreign Relations of the United States series (published by the U.S. Department of State) as it pertains to Greece, Miller is arguably the person best situated to address the exact nature of American involvement in Greek politics during the Hellenic state's tumultuous Cold War years.

Miller's diplomatic history is broken down into five chapters that capture the time period between 1950 and 1967, when Greece was a dysfunctional democracy, and three chapters that capture the time period between 1967 and 1974, when Greece was a dysfunctional dictatorship. As much has been written on the predictatorship era, it is the last three chapters that are Miller's most important contribution to the literature.

In particular, while much has been written on the postwar bilateral relationship, no study written in English has, to date, been able to draw on such a large pool of declassified documents to explain the actual role of the United States during the Greek overthrow of the Cypriot government in 1974 and the subsequent Turkish invasion--both of which many Greeks believe were provoked by the United States.

The largest strength of the book is that it draws on a quarter-century cache of official U.S. documents, supplementing them, where appropriate, with primary source material from British, French, and Greek government archives.

It is, perhaps, because Miller has to whittle down so much information that his attempt to provide a unique and comprehensive review of the run-up to the 1967 coup at times falls a bit flat. In particular, covering the 1950s, the book misses several opportunities to explain key events and dynamics. For example, in 1952, the Greek king and queen actually went to the U.S. Embassy in Athens to lobby the ambassador for an electoral law that would favor the royal palace (p. 39). Can you imagine Queen Elizabeth II going to the U.S. Embassy in London to press her case for a new British electoral law? This is too bizarre a dynamic to be left underattended. Similarly, if, as Miller tells us, the CIA had such a large operational presence in...

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