The American Hellenic Institute sponsored a luncheon yesterday in commemoration of the 55th Anniversary of the Truman Doctrine of aid to Greece after WWII. VOA’s George Bistis and Virginia Voutsina report that the highlight of the event was a speech by General Andrew J. Goodpaster, USA (Ret), whose public service spans seven decades and includes advising presidents from Eisenhower through Clinton. General Goodpaster began his Army career in 1939 shortly after his graduation from West Point. During the last year of WWII, then Lt. Colonel Goodpaster served as a war planner for General George Marshal, who later became the architect of the program for the post-war reconstruction of Europe.
In an interview to VOA General Goodpaster reminded us of the situation that existed prior to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshal Plan, through which some West European countries including Greece and Turkey were aided. Here is what he said: “At that time, the world was in a state of almost chaos, stable security had not been achieved in Europe, the economies were in terrible shape, no momentum toward prosperity could be developed. The genius of the Marshall plan was bringing the nations together, to work together with the United States, then providing what support it could for the common purpose, of building that stable security. The work of General Marshall was absolutely fundamental to that, as was the contribution of General Eisenhower, when he went to Europe to establish the collective command. Out of that came a situation of stable security. We were still faced with the threat from abroad, from the Soviet Union, but that was brought under containment and control”.
General Goodpaster warned that the stable security, established after a lot of hard work and maintained for more than half a century, is currently facing new threats. As he put it: “Now, today, on September 11th and in the months since, we see that the stable security of our way of life is threatened again. The fabric of life that we have enjoyed is in danger, and it is very important for young people not to take stable security for granted, to understand that it must be built and rebuilt against whatever threats and dangers arise in their lifetimes, as they did in ours. We have in our country and in our association with our friends and allies, great leaders who can point the way. We (also) have people, the people of our country and that is where the strength resides. Their determination now is to see that we protect the values that we hold dear, that’s what’s going to bring us through to success and I have no doubt that the resources, the values, the talent, the commitment exist there in this new generation. This new generation will stand up to the challenge and they are capable of meeting it, I am confident.”
The American Hellenic Institute is an organization dedicated to the promotion of better relations between the people of the United States and Greece. Eugene Rossides, a prominent Greek-American, who has spent most of his life working towards this goal, is the Founder of AHI. In an interview to VOA Mr. Rossides outlined the reasons for which his Institute commemorated the Truman Doctrine anniversary. In his words “We sponsor events such as this for two reasons. One, this particular event is important for World History. And secondly, we sponsor events such as this in order to stress the importance of the US-Greece relationship in this century. Here are two of the things that we’ve done. One, we sponsored an event five years ago on the 50th Anniversary of the Truman Doctrine, a turning point in World History and (two) we published a book. We’ve also just published a book on Greece’s pivotal role in WWII, another extraordinary event, tying in US (History) and Greek History. And that’s the purpose of the AHI, to strengthen the ties between the US and Greece to the mutual interest of both nations.”
Eugene Rossides believes that the new generations on both sides of the Atlantic need to fully understand all the aspects of their bilateral relationship and to correct some of what he considers as misperceptions in connection with the relative importance of Greece and Turkey to the United States. In response to a query Mr. Rossides said: “It is so important, not just for the new generation of Greeks, but also for the new generation of Americans as well, to understand the importance of History, which did not start yesterday, it started much earlier. (It is important to understand) Greece’s role in the 20th century, regarding its relationship with the US in WWI, WWII, the Truman Doctrine of aid regarding the communist insurgency, which is now called the Civil War. But also (they need to understand) Greece’s role in the Persian Gulf war. We did a Conference on the important role played by Greece in the Persian Gulf war because of Suda Bay. Suda Bay (on the island of Crete) is the Headquarters of the 6th Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece provided (through this installation) overflight support. That is the purpose of our organization and unfortunately, although we are fighting a difficult struggle, sometimes we get in (the advocacy of) the so-called importance of Turkey, which we think is minimal compared to the great importance to the United States of the US-Greece relationship.”
Next on the calendar of the American Hellenic Institute is “A Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” to be presented on Capitol Hill next Tuesday, March 19, 2002. The event is organized in cooperation with U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) who are the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus.