Meeting the communist threat in Greece: American diplomats, ideology and stereotypes 1944-1950

Autumn 2019

This paper focuses on four US officials serving in Greece at a critical period in both Greek and American political history. The Greek Civil War (1946-9) was decisive in the development of the Cold War confrontation. The Truman Doctrine (1947) represents an ideological milestone in this respect. In particular, the paper explores the views of Lincoln MacVeagh (ambassador 1944-7), Paul A. Porter (chief of the American Economic Mission to Greece, 1947), Dwight Griswold (chief of the American Mission for Aid to Greece 1947-8) and Henry Grady (ambassador 1948-50), namely their perceptions of the Greek post-war crisis in relation to the strategic goal of anticommunism. The emphasis of the analysis is on their understanding of the Greek social and political conditions - and especially of the nature of the communist threat – and of the goals involved in the American aid to the country. These four case studies highlight the interaction between the prevailing ideology in foreign policy objectives and the personal belief systems. Cultural preconditions and stereotypes constitute the framework in the context of which US officials sought to contain the communist challenge in Greece both though military as well as through economic and ideological means.

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