The British record in Greece was by now recognized as an outrage throughout the world. Members of the British Parliament went to Greece to investigate, and confirmed the existence of terror and suppression, of waste and corruption, of civil war in forced on the people by these conditions. The British people, faced with increasing economic difficulties at home, demanded withdrawal of British troops, and an end to "operation rat-hole."
That was where the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine came in. Up until March 12, 1947, when President Truman announced his program for Greece and Turkey, Britain together with U.N.R.R.A. had spent a total of $800,000,000 in Greece. It was an expense the British Empire, worn-out from war, and attempting to reconstruct its economy on the out-moded prewar basis, could not keep up.
The United States, which had emerged from the war the most powerful capitalist nation in the world, took advantage of Britain's every weakness. First there was a loan to the British government. It became starkly evident that the U.S. State Department would pay Britain's way where it chose, always holding the strings on the British people's own aspirations for a real socialization program. Among other things, the British foreign office conceded the State Department domination in Greece.
President Truman's proclamation of the Truman Doctrine was his administration's first open declaration of this policy to extend American control over large parts of the world—by force, if necessary. It was couched in Hitlerian phrases about "stopping Communism."
Everyone recognized it for a military program and very soon Truman stopped talking about reconstruction. "The rebellion," he said, must first be liquidated.
When Dwight Griswold and his mission arrived in Athens in July the Royalists extended them a royal welcome. There were to be a few minor disagreements, on the formation of the present Sofoulis cabinet, for instance—a move initiated by the Americans to give the Royalists a more respectable front for the world.
But the American officials were guaranteed power in black and white—by a note from the Greek government, and by an agreement putting the Marshall-Truman Doctrine into operation.
The Royalists had signed Greece over to the State Department. It was an American colony, and Truman's representatives came as colonial administrators.
What country in the world could accept such terms at any price and pretend independence?—terms which gave a foreign power control of all important government departments: civil service, agriculture, public works, distribution, export and import control, internal economy, army, navy.
In order to expedite recovery in Greece and because of the large financial contribution of the United States to Greece, [the note of June 15 said] the mission should participate in the development of revenue and expenditure policies, approve government expenditures which directly or indirectly involve the use of American aid, take part in the planning of the import program and approve the use of foreign exchange.
The planning and supervising of the administration of the program of public and private imports and exports will be centralized in a foreign trade committee comprising Greeks and American technicians and headed by an American in the employ of the Greek government.
The Greek government would also wish the mission to assist in execution of reconstruction projects, improvement of public administration, technical training of civil servants and other personnel, continuation of the health program, development of exports, programming and distribution of government-purchased supplies, promotion of agricultural and industrial recovery, and regulation of wages and prices…In general, the Greek government will wish to consult with the mission before taking any economic steps which might effect the success of the American aid program…
American "experts" and "advisers" ensconced themselves in government offices. Theirs was the last word. Article Nine of the June 20 agreement gave the State Department control of Greek relations with all other countries:
The government of Greece will not use any part of the proceeds of any loan, credit grant or other form of aid rendered pursuant to this agreement for making of any payment on account of the principal or interest on any loan made to it by another foreign government ... will not, except with the approval of the government of the United States, allocate any funds or make available any foreign exchange for payment of principal or interest on the foreign indebtedness now in suspense of the government of Greece and of all other public and private debtors.
If Americans had been willing to make such a settlement with the British back in 1776, the British would have joyfully accepted it. But they wrote a Declaration of Independence and took down their firearms. We fought then as the Greek people are fighting now.
American corporations have been swift in seizing the opportunity this kind of an arrangement gives them to take over Greek industry. Some of them, of course, had a foothold in advance of the Truman Doctrine.
Mines, Incorporated, a large American concern, has leased all the lead mines in Thrace for $10,000 a year. The contract exempts the company from all taxes, permits Mines, Inc. to import foreign labor to work the mines, and includes a clause allowing it to withdraw at the end of two years the $100,000 it put on deposit for the project.
A similar agreement gives Trans-World Airlines the majority of shares in the Greek Internal Airways Corporation. When that arrangement was announced, Greek pilots and ground crews went on strike in protest.
The Cooper Construction Company has control of the country's main source of minerals and hydroelectric power—the Ahelos river valley—and has contracts to develop it. Ulen Water Works; another American outfit, controls all Greek water supply projects. The big five tobacco companies in the United States have a stranglehold on the Greek tobacco industry—the country's largest export business—and have cut it off from its main European markets.
The American Nylon Company has arranged to set up a factory in Athens, and Hellenic Enterprises, Inc., American owned, has contracted for the manufacture of nylons, household goods, medical and electrical rquipment in Greece.
One of the things that makes Greece so attractive to foreign investment is the fact that the trade union movement has been crushed and cheap labor is plentiful.