February 17, 1964
Papendreou got solid
majority. The Right and the Communists both lost seats. The Communists'
appeal to do something substantial about Cybrus seems to have
been largely ignored in favor of Papendreou's break-and-butter
approach. His big gamble has paid off and he's finally in a position
to do something about the economic and other reforms he's been
demanding. The death of Venizelos, with whom Papendreou shared
power in the Center Union, will probably also mean more freedom
of movement for Papendreou. Of the two, Venizelos was the more
conservative. Papendreou now has power for four years (but he's
76). It will be a decisive four years.
Big rumor today - most
Greeks we've spoken to believe it: the King is dead. A guy asked
me about the books. I told him the plane hadn't left yet - for
some reason it has been delayed. Immediately he looked very interested.
I told him George-the-Pilot was concerned about something. "Ah!
It's true then. The King is dead." Greeks love to talk. A
rumor roars through the country in a matter of hours. Newspapers
pick it up, treat it as something close to fact, give it another
shove. The principal job of the embassy seems to be trying to
catch some of these rumors, kill them before they do real damage.
Example: a rumor last fall had it that there was a deal between
the U.S. and Bulgaria that if Bulgaria gave up Communism then
the U.S. would give her (we're all powerful - "Why don't
you settle the Cyprus situation NOW?") Greek Macedonia and
an outlet to the sea. I'm not sure we should be very concerned
about them - the Greeks, I suspect, play with them because they're
a source for more lively conversation; they mostly don't believe
them. And they like Americans - but they're suspicious of the
American government, (but nowhere as suspicious as they are of
Englishmen and the English government). They loved Kennedy with
a passion (he was Kennedy - what does that have to do with government?)
They're not sure about Johnson this week (one guy told me that
Johnson had been too friendly with John Foster Dulles.)
Perhaps we should concern
ourselves less with our image, more with accomplishing those kinds
of things which will help Greeks to help themselves.
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