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It is clear
that in his meticulously researched Under
the Eagle’s Claw, Kofas intends not only to present the story of
U.S. political and economic interventionism in modern Greece, but also
to argue the Greek-American relationship as “a microcosm of
Washington’s mode of operation in the global arena”(10).
Kofas’s archival research yields a view of the U.S. which
many who adhere to the notion of U.S.
exceptionalism will experience as troubling, to say the least:
“having sacrificed values based on human compassion for the culture
of individualism, materialism, and militarism, the U.S. government’s
ultimate goal is to safeguard power in all its forms, and that
necessarily entails global conformity to the law of empire”(245).
Still, Under the
Eagle’s Claw is so fastidiously researched that it cannot fail
to make a convincing case of U.S. foreign policy as being dictated by
a hegemonic will to power.
Kofas’s study is less successful is in capturing the psychological,
social, and economic climate in Greece in the aftermath of the Nazi
occupation and of the civil war which ensued.
The complex factors that contributed to the eruption of the
Greek civil war, as well as the war’s socio-economic repercussions
are not given the balanced treatment they deserve; moreover, while
emphasizing the imperialist ideology that motivated U.S. presence in
post-war Greece, Kofas does not account for the Soviet Union’s role
as a major player in the Balkan region.
Kofas’s rather schematic sense of the internal political and
social dynamics in a Greece devastated by war also colours his
assessment of leading political figures (such as Konstantine
Karamanlis and George Papandreou) whom Kofas alternately depicts as
either mechanical puppets or self-serving manipulators.
Finally, Kofas’s interest in demonstrating U.S. imperialist
involvement compromises his final evaluation of Greek domestic policy:
while on the one hand he emphasizes that being “under the eagle’s
claw” Greek governments had “no credible alternative to full
integration and policy cooperation”(11), on the other he promotes a
neutralist stance as not only desirable but also feasible: “the best
solution…in a bipolar world would have been a regime pursuing a more
independent path…when necessary, cooperating with either or both
Washington and Moscow”(246).
Overall, Jon Kofas’s Under the Eagle’s Claw provides the reader with a well-researched record of U.S. interventionist policies in post-World War II Greece and in the broader Balkan and Middle-Eastern region. Despite occasional oversimplification in its treatment of Greek society and politics, it is a good read for anyone who possesses some knowledge of modern Greek history and is interested in acquiring a new perspective on U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War era.