Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
BARBOUR: The Turks invaded with what they thought, and history may agree with them, was a valid cause. It's an interesting example. I was not in the bureau at that time, I was still in Personnel, but I was called up to work on the Task Force the next day. It's an interesting example of a diplomatic failure on our part because it was the era of the Greek colonels in Athens. We didn't really like them, but we lived with them, and there was a feeling, I guess on the part of the Secretary, that you don't have to like people in order to get along with them because our bases were important, Greece was in NATO, and that important, the southeastern flank was significant, and all that sort of thing. Anyhow, we knew that the Greek colonels had interests in Cyprus. They still had the insurrection area infrastructure and all that sort of stuff. We sent them a message, do not do anything. But the message was, you might say garbled in transmission. The ambassador chose to have it delivered at a lower level.
Q: It was Henry Tasca.
BARBOUR: Yes...had it delivered at a lower level through non-official channels, and it was received by the Greek military as a fig leaf, the Americans are just stating this for the position. What it really means is they will understand if we go ahead, and go ahead they did. Anyhow, the result was that the island was partitioned, as it still is, mass movements of populations back and forth. It was still just a situation. Well, I think the spring of 1978, the Turks had been suffering for some time under a virtual arms embargo on our part. The Greek lobby was very active, very vociferous, and very successful.
Q: In the times it was considered as successful, almost even more so than the Israel lobby.