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  • Editor’s Note

This issue of the journal begins with an article by John Iatrides on the goals and methods of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during the civil war in Greece from 1945 to 1949. The Fall 2001 issue of the journal featured an article by Thanasis Sfikas on a related aspect of this subject, but Iatrides presents a fuller and more convincing assessment. He shows that the KKE, despite professing a desire to work with other political parties in postwar Greece, moved at an early stage to seize power by force and to eliminate all of its rivals. The civil war that ensued exacted an appalling death toll, with atrocities committed by both sides, particularly by the Communists. KKE officials had realized from the start that they could not achieve their goals unless they received large-scale military and financial support from the Soviet Union and other East-bloc countries. The head of the Greek Communists, Nikos Zahariadis, urged Soviet leaders to provide weapons, support equipment, and funding. Although Josif Stalin was not fully optimistic about the KKE's prospects for success, he approved major clandestine shipments of materiel and financing to the party and its military arm, the National Liberation Front (EAM). This support enabled the EAM guerrillas to continue fighting for much longer than they could have otherwise, but in the end it was not enough to keep the Communists from defeat. Iatrides situates his article within the existing historiography and highlights the changes needed as a result of the newly available documentation. Among other things, the materials leave little doubt that if the KKE had won, Greece would have been incorporated into the Soviet bloc.

The second article, by William Burr, focuses on the the Nixon administration's initial attempts to develop limited nuclear options. The emergence of strategic nuclear parity by the late 1960s and early 1970s merely underscored a reality that had existed even earlier—namely that, as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara declared in the early 1960s, the U.S.-Soviet nuclear relationship was one of mutual assured destruction. President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, were concerned that threats of massive nuclear strikes lacked credibility and might embolden Soviet leaders to believe that they could act aggressively during a crisis without fear of provoking a U.S. nuclear response. Nixon and Kissinger therefore sought to ensure that a greater variety of nuclear options would be available. But they soon discovered, to their dismay, that the U.S. nuclear warfighting plan, known formally as the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), was overwhelmingly geared toward all-out nuclear war. They also found that military planners and many civilians at the Department of Defense were reluctant to tinker with the SIOP, fearing that changes might degrade its effectiveness. Despite these obstacles, Kissinger persisted in his quest to prod the nuclear targeting agencies to consider and, ultimately, devise options short [End Page 1] of large-scale strikes. Continued resistance delayed serious consideration of the matter for a considerable while, but in 1972 a panel chaired by John Foster recommended the development of limited, selective, and regional options for the SIOP. The considerations that shaped the Foster panel's report paved the way for the enunciation in 1974 of the "Schlesinger Doctrine" of limited nuclear options.

The third article, by Steve Marsh, analyzes the Truman and Eisenhower administrations' policies toward Iran during the oil crisis of 1950–1954. The traditional interpretation of these events has been that the change of administrations in early 1953 caused U.S. policy to shift to a more aggressive stance, culminating in the August 1953 coup that overthrew the government of Mohammed Mossadegh. In an article in the first issue of the Journal of Cold War Studies, Francis Gavin challenged this view, arguing that the decision to proceed with the coup was spurred not by the change of administration but by the rapid U.S. military buildup that followed the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. This buildup, Gavin argued, gave U.S. officials greater confidence of staving off the Soviet Union and of being able to respond more forcefully to regional crises. Like...