- Kissinger and Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness by Gene Rossides
This is a difficult book to review for anyone with some knowledge of the Cyprus issue. The author makes valid points, some indisputable. Henry Kissinger’s entire public career was a study in lawlessness. From wiretapping his subordinates to carrying out secret warfare, to toppling regimes in Latin America, to covering up his mismanagement of the Cyprus coup of 1974, America’s so-called Doctor of Diplomacy was normally on the wrong side of international agreements and custom. Rossides is certainly right that Kissinger terribly mismanaged the July–August 1974 crisis in Cyprus; that Turkey carried out a military invasion and ethnic cleansing; that Cyprus is largely an afterthought for international diplomacy; and that the rule of international law is preferable to the present system of prioritizing national interest over international agreements.
Regrettably, this poorly organized, badly written, weakly sourced, repetitive, self-adulating, pseudo-legal brief should not be confused with a historical or legal study. Kissinger and Cyprus is factually unreliable. Anyone who invests a few hours reading it would be well advised to have a copy of Facts on File handy (for example, Kosut 1970; see also Keesing’s Contemporary Archive 1960–1976). Rossides frequently gets his facts wrong or omits important data, as he pursues his indictment of Kissinger and Turkey for war crimes. His outrage over post facto toleration on the part of the international community and press does not extend to his and Kissinger’s former boss, Richard Nixon, who was the directing hand in all the major decisions affecting Cyprus, Greece, and the US response to the 1974 coup.
Rossides initially embraces Henry Ford’s well-known viewpoint that “history is bunk.” Fittingly, Kissinger and Cyprus offers instead a simplistic conspiracy theory as a substitute for research and reasoned analysis, whereby Henry Kissinger, in the midst of one of the major constitutional crises in US history, decided on an apparent whim [End Page 206] to overthrow the government of Cyprus and to unleash the Greek dictatorship to carry out the deed. The author never provides any reason, much less evidence, to support this fantasy. Kissinger was racking up frequent flyer miles journeying between Washington, D.C., and San Clemente, California, trying to nudge an alcohol-dependent Richard Nixon toward resignation and to save his own job. Why would he arrange a messy foreign intervention to present to his new boss, Gerald Ford? Moreover, Rossides claims that a few days after he had overthrown the legitimate government of Cyprus, Kissinger agreed to a Turkish military invasion in order to overthrow the Greek dictatorship-backed regime that he had just installed in Nicosia. However, the author provides no explanation for this strange behavior.
Since the author’s charges appear farfetched, he should provide solid proof to support them. The bibliography is threadbare, consisting heavily of books and articles that seem to partially support either Rossides’s conspiracy theory or his views about Kissinger. Over the last 20 years, the American archival record of the events of 1974 has been released, as have Kissinger’s papers and telephone conversations. The Foreign Relations of the United States series has printed thousands of pages of National Security Council, Nixon and Kissinger papers, State and Defense Department records, along with CIA reports, relating to Cyprus 1969–1976 (Miller, Selvage, and Van Hook 2008). In support of his theory, Rossides cites one of Kissinger’s phone conversations and one NSC (National Security Council) subcommittee meeting. A credible study of Kissinger’s Cyprus diplomacy would at a minimum review and incorporate extensive US archival material into an analysis and would need to make extensive use of the massive British record. (Rossides cites a few British cabinet documents, but there is no evidence that he has mined British archives.) His research can charitably be described as cherry picking. The only contrary view that Rossides cites is that of Henry Kissinger, setting up a straw man whom he can refute. He...