THE WRONG HORSE: The Politics of Intervention and the Failure of American Diplomacy by Laurence Stern

THE WRONG HORSE: The Politics of Intervention and the Failure of American Diplomacy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the autumn of 1974, Congress voted an embargo on military aid to Turkey. This action, a revolt against Administrative foreign policy, was the indirect result of a decade of misdirected US involvement in Greek and Cypriote politics, recounted here. Stern, National Editor of the Washington Post, relies heavily on unattributable sources from the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon, as well as their Greek and Cypriote counterparts, to construct a case history of bureaucratic ineptitude, duplicity, and pragmatic callousness in US dealings in the Eastern Mediterranean. Backgrounding the establishment, during the years of the Truman Doctrine, of patron-client relations between Washington and reactionary political groups in Athens, he points to the US failure to support moderate modernizing forces in Greece as the basic flaw in American diplomacy in the area (hence the rather silly title). This lack of diplomatic foresight was combined with CIA complicity in the 1967 ""Colonels' Coup."" Though Stern is careful not to accuse the CIA of actively aiding the coup, he is skeptical of the total ignorance claimed by that agency, and has unearthed evidence of warnings by middle-level officials which were ignored by their superiors; the complicity took the form of inaction, in this view. The lack of communication between the State Department and CIA is a recurring factor in Stem's story, but he does not push this point systematically. Instead, he shifts back and forth from the actions and perceptions of one institution to the other, as the specific incident seems to warrant. The effect is to leave the two parts of Stem's subtitle separated. Like the post-hoc efforts by Congress to impose a moral standard on State's policies, Stern shies away from really addressing the question of the CIA's role in creating foreign policy, independent of Foggy Bottom. He has given us enough to make us desire more.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Times Books (formerly Quadrangle/New York Times)