Hurting the One Who Loves You Most:
THE UNITED STATES AND THE
CYPRUS CRISES, 1963-67
The worst rat-race I've ever been in—trying to deny Greeks and Turks their historic recreation of killing one another.
Dean Acheson, August 1964
Anything we do gives the appearance of our working for the other side . . . if we described the terrible consequences of a Greek-Turk war, the Greeks would simply ask why, then, would we refuse to stop a Turk invasion. . . . [T]he average Greek thinks that we're holding the gun of a Turkish invasion at Greek heads to force a deal. The Turks feel that, because we restrained their invasion, we're pro-Greek.
George Ball, July 1964
In 1964 and 1967, Turkey and Greece almost fought over Cyprus. 1 The overriding U.S. interest in both crises was to prevent war between its two key allies in NATO's southern flank. Because they were both allies, the United States could not align with one in order to deter the other. The chief reason to keep the peace between them—to contain the USSR—limited U.S. options to pivotal deterrence.
Though its approach to these crises was, at bottom, pragmatic, many observers whose views are inscribed by the subsequent and more traumatic 1974 crisis, do not see it that way. In July 1974, a military regime in Athens staged a coup in Cyprus to replace the leftist president, Archbishop Makarios, with a right-wing stooge who would allow Greece to quickly annex the island. Greece was isolated internationally even before the coup; afterward, it