The man who defied him

From the prologue to the paperback edition: As I was preparing to publish the original version of this book, I received a call from William Rogers. Mr Rogers is a partner in the distinguished Washington law firm of Arnold and Porter and was, during Kissinger’s period as Secretary of State, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs. He is also a cog in the wheel of Kissinger Associates (for the activities of which, see chapter 10). Some had leaked the advance news of publication to a New York newspaper and Mr Rogers, on first contact, was all friendliness. Could he help? he wanted to know. I told him that I had already forwarded a request for an interview to his boss, and had mentioned the headings – Chile, Timor, Bangladesh and the Demetracopoulos affair – which I hoped to discuss with him. Mr Rogers professed astonishment at the fourth of these topics. «Who is this guy Demetra-whatsisname?» he inquired. «We’ve never heard of him.» The absurdity of the official pretense, that Elias Demetracopoulos was beneath Kissinger’s notice, is even further exposed by a recently declassified letter from Kissinger to Nixon, sent on 22 March 1971. It is headed «SECRET: The Demetracopoulos Affair.» It begins by saying to the President: «You may have heard some repercussions from the recent flap over a request by Greek ‘journalist’ and resistance leader, Elias Demetracopoulos, to return to Greece to see his sick father.» (It’s rather flattering that Kissinger should have put «journalist» in sarcastic quotes, but left the definition of resistance leader unamended.) The letter goes on to say: «Since Demetracopoulos has such a following in Congress and has an outlet in Rowland Evans [then a senior Washington columnist], I thought you might be interested in knowing that he has long been an irritant in US-Greek relations…» It would appear safe to say, then, that Demetracopoulos was taken with sufficient seriousness by Kissinger… Another declassified secret document, this time of a «Secretary’s Analytical Staff Meeting» at the State Department on 20 March 1974, shows Kissinger’s obsession at work again. Irritated by talk of a return to constitutional rule in Greece, he said: «My question is: Why is it in the American interest to do in Greece what we apparently don’t do anywhere else – of requiring them to give a commitment to the President to move to representative government?» This was only a few months after the existing right-wing dictatorship in Athens had been overthrown from the extreme right by the psychopath Brigadier Ioannidis. Even Henry Tasca, then United States Ambassador to Athens and a trusted friend of the regime, was moved to reply: «Well, I think because Greece and the Greek people – in terms of their position and public opinion in Western Europe – are quite unique. You can go back to the constitutional Greece or the Greek lobby – whatever you want to call it – and they’ve got a position in Western Europe and the United States that Brazil and Chile and these other countries don’t have. None of these countries has a Demetracopoulos – a Greek refugee who’s been activated and who for four years has been leading a very vigorous fight on our policy in Greece.» To this Kissinger made the glacial reply that «That just means we’re letting Demetracopoulos’s particular group make policy.» Washington, February 15, 2002